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New York City and Queens Immigration Attorney Helping Same-Sex Couples Sponsor Family Members for Visas

Since the landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2013, same-sex married couples have had the same rights as other married couples to receive federal government benefits, including immigration benefits. A New York immigration attorney at Orbach-Rosenberg Law helps same-sex couples in New York City access immigration benefits, including sponsoring a spouse for a family-based visa.

Supreme Court Ruling Recognizes Validity of Same-Sex Marriages

In June 2013 the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law which had defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, effectively prohibiting same-sex couples from receiving federal government benefits available to opposite-sex married couples. By declaring DOMA unconstitutional, the Supreme Court opened the door for same-sex couples to avail themselves of all types of federal government benefits, including immigration benefits.

The case that went to the Supreme Court, U.S. v. Windsor, actually began in New York state. A same-sex couple in New York had married in Canada, and their marriage was later recognized as valid by the state of New York. When one of the spouses died, the other spouse attempted to claim the exemption from federal estate tax offered to spouses, but was denied because section 3 of DOMA defined terms such as marriage and spouse to only include opposite-sex couples for all purposes under federal law.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that Section Three of DOMA was unconstitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the trial court. Finally, the High Court affirmed the decision as well, calling DOMA an unconstitutional deprivation of equal liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.

What does this mean for U.S. immigration law?

In states which recognize same-sex marriages as valid, such as New York, couples can gain access to all government benefits afforded to spouses, such as tax benefits. For immigration purposes, this means that a same-sex spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) can sponsor his or her spouse for a family-based visa just as any other spouse can. A citizen spouse can sponsor a spouse currently in the U.S. for a visa with an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, as well as apply for permanent residence or adjustment of status to permanent residence with Form I-485. For a resident spouse with a spouse lawfully in the U.S., the process generally involves filing an I-130 and then awaiting a visa number before applying to adjust status with an I-485. A citizen or resident spouse whose spouse is outside the U.S. must wait for approval and processing information after filing an I-130.

Get Help with Your Family Visa Petition from an Experienced New York City Immigration Lawyer

If you are part of a same-sex marriage, you must be able to prove that you were lawfully married in a state or country that recognizes same-sex marriage. In addition, you must meet all the other requirements in order to obtain a spousal visa or other immigration benefits. An experienced immigration attorney can help you through the process of obtaining your immigration benefits quickly and successfully. In New York City, contact Orbach Rosenberg Law for assistance.

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