What’s Inside Obama’s New Immigration Law?

FamilyYesterday, President Barack Obama introduced a new immigration policy through executive action. Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided us with some more detail about who might be eligible for deferred action and work permits. (The new policy does not grant permanent residence, green cards, or U.S. Citizenship).

***As of 11/21 /14 You can not yet apply for any of the new benefits under Obama’s New Immigration Policy. You may need to wait 90 or 180 days.***

There are two main aspects to the new policy. The first is an expansion of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ) Program.  This program has been in place for over two years already and has allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented students who entered the country as children to register and obtain work permits. Unfortunately, the original policy only applied to people who were under the age of 30. That requirement will be removed!! Which means that no matter how old you are, if you entered the U.S. before you were age 16 and were continuously present in the U.S.  from January 2010 until now you might be eligible for a work permit! USCIS says they are likely to begin accepting requests for this expanded DACA program in about three months so stay tuned to the USCIS.gov website or speak with an immigration attorney or a trusted non-profit organization such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, http://www.nwirp.org/.

From USCIS Webpage on 11/21/2014 http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

Who
  • Current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, who meet all other DACA guidelines.
What
  • Allows individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA (removing the upper age restriction) provided they meet all other guidelines.
  • Requires continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.
  • Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.
When
  • Approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

 

The second and largest aspect of the new policy will be the granting of deferred action to undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who have been in the country for 5 years or more.  There is a potential for this to affect millions of individuals. Please note that not everyone will be eligible, but millions will. USCIS estimates that it will be another six months before anyone can start applying for this deferred action but if you think you might be eligible start gathering proof of your physical presence in the U.S. and get your U.S. taxes back filed if necessary. Speak with an immigration attorney or trusted non-profit organization to see if you might be eligible.

 

From USCIS Website on 11/21/2014 http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

Who
  • An undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement, is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.
What
  • Allows parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they:
  • Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010;
  • Are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014; and
  • Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States, pursuant to the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.

Notes: USCIS will consider each request for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement priorities include (but are not limited to) national security and public safety threats.

When
  • Approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

There will also be an expansion of our skilled worker immigration policies and naturalization promotion. For more information check out the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.

Andre Olivie is a Seattle-based immigration attorney helping families and individuals apply for asylum, marriage visas, green cards and U.S. citizenship.

Obama’s New Immigration Law

obamaOn November 20th 2014, President Obama spoke to the nation and introduced a new policy which will be enacted through executive order to provide temporary permission to stay for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least 5 years, have U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident children, paid taxes and have no criminal background. This is a HUGE change in immigration policy. This new policy will help millions of undocumented individuals the opportunity to live without fear outside of the shadows and work lawfully.

The policy was just announced this evening and it is not clear what the exact details will be. There is currently no process for registering but stay tuned! Speak with an immigration attorney or respected non-profit organization in the next few weeks about how to sign up for the program and to learn the potential risks. There is potential that the program could be reversed if a new president comes into power, but we are hopeful that, like the recent deferred action granted to young children, that this will program will continue in the near future and eventually lead to something more permanent.

“If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”

“Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?” – President Barack Obama  – November 20th, 2014.

 

A Dozen States Making Marriage Equality Progress

Dozen States for Same-sex Marriage

2014 has seen great progress for the LGBT  community, positive news for bi-national couples.

Those interested in sponsoring their same-sex partners for green cards might soon have more places to marry. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will recognize marriages as long as they are legal where they take place (including in foreign nations such as Canada and Spain).

Guest Post by Daniel Bean, Paralegal.

Utah

The good news about the state of marriage equality here is that last month, the U.S. court of Appeals for the 10th circuit announced their in favor; the bad news is that that ruling is on hold and will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then they will decide whether or not to take up the case. But there is a silver lining: a Boulder County Judge ruled today that marriage licenses will continue to be granted despite the hold on the ruling. Go Utah!

Indiana

Indiana will be joining Utah in its appeal to the highest court after last month a federal judge there ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. What’s more, yesterday a memo the governor’s office sent a memo to Indiana’s executive branch affirming that the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriage and that the ban would be in “full force and effect.” A reason was not made clear for that decision.

Colorado

Colorado also took a leap toward equality yesterday when a federal judge ruled its own ban of same-sex marriage “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government.” The same judge has placed an immediate hold on the decision pending an anticipating an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Arkansas

On May 9, 2014, Judge Chris Piazza decreed: “Let them eat wedding cake!” and we would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling Attorney General—who won’t be named here. It’s interesting that the number of marriage licenses reportedly given was around 400: they must have acted fast because just 6 days later all same-sex marriages were put on hold.

Kentucky

In May, a county circuit ruled Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Just days later, the Supreme Court did put a sort of hold on issuing marriage licenses to happy couples, citing that the ruling didn’t have implications for that process, but not before over 450 licenses were issued. There is currently a hold on the ruling.

Texas

Texas’ state ban on same-sex marriage was tossed out by a federal judge in late February, and that same judge stayed his own decision in anticipation of an appeal by opponents of dignity and equality for same-sex couples.

Idaho

Saw slightly fewer days of equality when a judge there said “potato, potatto” and decided that same-sex couples deserved the right to get married same as their heterosexual counterparts on May 13th; not before a hold was put on the ruling on May 16th.

Michigan

A judge in Michigan had some powerful words when he struck down their state ban. He had this to say: “”Today’s decision… affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.” As you can guess, there is currently a hold on this ruling pending an anticipated appeal.” But in good news, in response to the hold, US Attorney General put out the word that “these families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”

Oklahoma

It looks like Judge Terrence C. Kern had the good sense to recognize that Oklahoma’s state ban on marriage was “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit;” however, as you may have guessed by now, that decision is on hold, pending an appeal.

Virginia

Virginians almost celebrated a Happy Valentine’s Day when their ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional on February 13th, but that decision was placed on hold, in anticipation of an appeal. Here’s hoping that any couples who decided to get married on a day we celebrate love had a happy holiday with their special someones anyhow; and to those still looking for “the one,” keep your hopes up, because LGBT rights seem to have picked up steam in spite of the temporary stays on these decisions.

Wisconsin

June 6, 2014 was Wisconsin’s day to ring in marriage equality, and it looks like over 400 shiny new marriage licenses were granted to happy couples. This time it took 7 days before an official hold was placed on the ruling—which, after reading about the other cases, seems like a long time.

Florida

The sun shone bright on the Sunshine State on July 17th, 2014 in light of the news that a judge had ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconscionable. An immediate stay was placed on the ruling. I guess our day in the sun will come sooner or later, but that’s okay, Florida, you’re still beautiful.

Information in this post is not guaranteed and may be subject to change. Speak with an attorney for specific immigration advice. As immigration laws can be complicated its best to speak with an immigration attorney even before you marry. Immigration Lawyer, Andre Olivie, helps gay couples throughout the country apply for green cards, marriage and fiancée visas.

Six Countries Leading Gays to Seek Asylum in the U.S.

Gay AsylumWhile gays in the U.S. celebrate the fall of DODT, DOMA and the expansion of marriage equality, much of the global LGBT population continue to suffer under foreign governments that persecute, condemn, criminalize, torture and oppress those who dare to love members of the same sex. Recent news from Russia and Uganda has brought these practices into the limelight and many Americans are asking what the U.S. government can do to help gays and lesbians from these nations.

For those foreign gays who are currently in the U.S. or those who can find their way to the U.S. on non-immigrant visas, asylum might be an option. The U.S. government will grant asylum to gays and lesbians who have suffered persecution, or who have a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of their sexual orientation.  The following are 6 countries, whose treatment of gays, as reported by our own Department of State, would likely support an asylum claim in the U.S.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signs an anti-homosexual bill into law at the state house in EntebbeUganda

On February 24th, 2014, President Museveni signed into a law an anti-gay bill which toughened penalties for gays and could lead to life in prison for homosexual acts which had already been criminalized. According to the U.S. State Department, “LGBT persons faced discrimination and legal restrictions…LGBT persons were subject to societal harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and threats to their well-being, and were denied access to health services. Discriminatory practices also prevented local LBGT NGOs from registering with the NGO Board and obtaining official status.”

Russian Gay RightsRussia

The Sochi Olympics and the actions of punk protest band, Pussy Riot gave recently helped expose the mistreatment of Russian Gays. The Russian parliament recently passed a law banning gay propaganda and Moscow has refused to allow Gay Pride parades. The U.S. State Department reports that openly gay men have been attacked by neo-Nazis with police failing to respond. Gay men and women hide their orientation due to fear of losing their jobs or their homes as well as the threat of violence and medical practitioners reportedly continued to limit or deny LGBT persons health services due to intolerance and prejudice.

Gambian PresidentGambia

Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh has called homosexuality a threat to human existence and “more deadly than all natural disasters put together.” Male homosexual acts are illegal and punishable with five to 14 years in prison. According to the U.S. State Department, “There was strong societal discrimination against LGBT individuals, further enhanced by statements by President Jammeh and the enforcement of a law, nicknamed Operation Bulldozer, designed to enforce harsh penalties for criminals but also directed at gay men. There were no LGBT organizations in the country.”

Ukraine Gay RIghts

Ukraine

This week, President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine stepped down following massive protests. However, it is yet unclear whether any new government would be any kinder to Ukraine’s LGBT population who has suffered under persecution both by the government and the society. The LGBT population has experienced discrimination in education, the workplace and access to medical treatment. Like Russia, Ukraine’s parliament has sought to pass a law against “homosexual propaganda.” Rights organizations have found that LGBT individuals faced “physical violence, abuse, threats, property damage, theft, extortion, bullying, workplace discrimination, discrimination in educational settings, and divulging of personal information.”

Seeking Gay Rights in JamaicaJamaica

In 2006, an article in TIME magazine called Jamaica “The most homophobic place on earth.” Today, Jamaican gays continue to suffer persecution on account of their sexual orientation. Though the government has recently stated that they will be reviewing the law, homosexual acts continue to be illegal in Jamaica punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  A culture of homophobia is perpetuated by popular music and religion and physical violence against gays is widespread. “The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) reported serious human rights abuses, including assault with deadly weapons, “corrective rape” of women accused of being lesbians, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of gay and lesbian patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons. Police often did not investigate such incidents.”

kyrgyz_republicKyrgyz Republic

The Central Asian nation was formerly under the U.S.S.R. and like other countries in the region remains a bastion for gay persecution. Despite decriminalizing homosexual relations in 1998, human rights organizations have found that police officers continue to arrest individuals for homosexuality.  LGBT persons face physical and verbal abuse, possible loss of work, and unwanted attention from police and authorities. Human Rights Watch recently published a 65 page report highlighting the abuse of gay men in Kyrgyz Republic who suffered severe physical violence including punching, kicking, and beating with gun butts, batons, empty beer bottles, or other objects.

The latest State Department Human Rights Reports are available here: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/

Further research can be found at the following organization websites: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

 

 

 

6 Ways To Help Gay Russians Seek Asylum in the U.S.

LGBT Asylum for RussiansIf you’ve been following the news in the last few years you’ve likely heard that the situation for gays and lesbians in Russia has deteriorated significantly. Gay and Lesbian Russians need your help. Anti-gay laws, homophobic protests and anti-gay attacks have increased. For many, it is no longer safe to be gay man or woman in Russia. Fortunately, the United States government may be willing to help gay Russians currently in the U.S. on visitor, student or work visas, including those who have overstayed their visas.  The U.S. may grant asylum to those individuals who have either been persecuted in their home country by their government, people the government is unable or unwilling to control on account of their sexual orientation.

The following are 6 ways that you can help your Russian LGBT friends obtain asylum in the U.S.

1. MAKE GENUINE FRIENDSHIPS

If you meet a gay or lesbian individual from Russia or any other country for that matter, show them some U.S. hospitality. It can be difficult being in a new country with a completely different language and culture. Befriend a Russian. Learn about their culture and share your own. Find out what you have in common. If you’ve met at a gay bar or through an LGBT organization, you already have a starting point!

2. ASK QUESTIONS BUT DON’T INTERROGATE

Your friend may not be willing to provide you with all the details of their lives, and unless you’re great friends or in a relationship, it’s probably none of your business. However, individuals who have suffered persecution in Russia or have a fear of returning because they may be persecuted  might not be comfortable discussing it as it may be to personal or traumatic.  In some cases, they may only have straight Russian friends in the U.S. and prefer to keep their sexuality hidden. When you have a good relationship with your friend, ask questions but don’t interrogate. Talk about what you’ve heard in the news and let them tell you if they are having problems at home or are afraid to return because of their sexual-orientation. Your Russian friend may already be a U.S. Citizen or have a green card but those on temporary visas may need asylum if they fear returning when their stay ends.

3. INFORM THEM ABOUT THE ASYLUM OPTION

Many foreigners and U.S. Citizens alike are unaware about LGBT asylum. Your friend may not know that the U.S. will allow gay and lesbians to seek asylum in the U.S.  Let your friends know that there is a possibility for those who fear persecution because of their sexuality to remain permanently in the U.S.  Being informed about the asylum option is particularly important as, generally, asylum must be applied for within one year of entry into the U.S.

4. CONNECT THEM TO A NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY

Asylum law is complicated and each case is unique. It is generally not a good idea to attempt to apply for asylum without first speaking with an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help your friend decide whether or not they want to apply for asylum and also whether or not they are eligible for LGBT asylum. They will prepare a strong application packet which may need to be hundreds of pages. They will also prepare for and attend an asylum interview with the client or represent them at an asylum trial if the friend is in deportation proceedings. The not for profit organization Immigration Equality helps connect asylum seekers with pro-bono and private immigration attorneys with experience in LGBT asylum law.

5. SUPPORT THEIR ASYLUM CASE WITH WRITTEN STATEMENTS OR IN PERSON TESTIMONY

If your friend is applying for asylum, they will need to prove to the U.S. government that they have suffered persecution or have a reasonable fear of future persecution on account of their sexual orientation. Written statements from friends who can attest that the individual is actually gay will be helpful to their case. An immigration attorney will likely ask their clients’ friends to provide affidavits and guide them as to what is necessary. If your friend is seeking asylum in court, it may be necessary for a friend to testify in person.

6. IF POSSIBLE, SUPPORT THEM FINANCIALLY OR PROVIDE FOOD AND SHELTER

The asylum process can be long, sometimes more than one year. After an asylum application has been pending for 5 months, the asylum seeker may be eligible to apply for a work permit, however before this time, unless they have a work visa, asylum seekers are not permitted to work. They might need help with basic needs in the U.S including help with food and shelter. Emotional support can be just as helpful.

If your friend is fortunate to receive asylum, they will be allowed to remain live and work in the U.S. After one year, they will be eligible to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence). After four more years they may be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.

 

Same-sex Greencards are Here!

Gay Couple

Guest Post by Daniel Z. Bean, Paralegal

Are We Eligible?

We’re overcome with gratitude to those who’ve fought for marriage equality and we’re positively beaming that LGBT bi-national couples are now planning to live their lives together. Couples once separated by restrictions on immigration policy are seeing the green light as foreign partners are approved for residency and visas. Couples who lived in fear of being separated can now breathe a sigh of relief, too. The U.S.C.I.S. and Department of State have fully embraced the defeat of DOMA Section 3 as promised.

There are still a few things to keep in mind for same-sex couples as they apply for immigration benefits:

  • The validity of the marriage still depends on the laws where the marriage took place: whether the country or U.S. state recognizes same-sex marriage is important. If a couple marries in a state or country were same-sex marriage is legal, they are eligible for immigration benefits—even if they no longer live in a state with same-sex marriage laws.
  • For example, a couple married in New York that later moved to Michigan would still be recognized by the U.S.C.I.S. or U.S. Dept. of State.
  • Subsequently, couples living in domestic partnerships or civil unions will need to get married before they can be eligible for these benefits.
  • Derivative benefits will also be extended to spouses and children of same-sex spouses where eligible.

Please be aware that there are many variables to consider before petitioning for loved ones. As always, please consult with an immigration attorney to discuss what options are available.

Source:

USCIS. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=2543215c310af310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=2543215c310af310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD

US Dept of State. http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/frvi_6036.html

Hope for Immigration Reform in 2013

Immigration Reform

Guest Blog by Daniel Z. Bean

Supporters of immigration reform were thrilled when the US Senate passed a bipartisan bill this summer, but House republicans have balked at the idea that they’ll be voting on the Senate bill, insisting that a path to citizenship is out of the question. And now with two time-sensitive political issues topping the agenda—diplomacy regarding Syria and a deadline to approve a new federal budget—it seems that they won’t be introducing legislation any time soon.

However, hope for a vote this fall has not yet faded away. Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, addressed the prospect with his own vow to push forward. He told the New York Times last week, “We’re gearing up for late October — we’re going to push really hard for votes this fall.” Additionally, this week women’s groups staged protest in Washington D.C., which drew national attention and led to more than a hundred arrests.

House republicans have good reason to pass a comprehensive answer to the Senate bill sooner rather than later. Support for legislation which includes a path to citizenship is at an all-time high: according to a July 2013 Gallup Poll, almost 90% of Americans are in favor of providing one. Americans also support increases in border security and the creation of more work-related visas for immigrants. It’s in our best interest to push for action before next year’s election, when some House representatives may begin courting their conservative base with bleaker options for reform.

The Senate has done its part, now it’s up to the House of Representatives and President Obama to serve Americans faithfully and give us the immigration reform we are asking for.

Sources:

Preston, J. and Shear, M. “Immigration Reform Falls to the Back of the Line.” NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/us/politics/immigration-reform-falls-to-the-back-of-the-line.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Immigration. Gallup. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1660/Immigration.aspx

4 Steps the U.S. Government has Taken to Implement Post DOMA Immigration Policies

U.S. FlagFollowing the SCOTUS DOMA ruling and prior to her resignation, Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano made the following statement:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly. To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

Director of USCIS Speaks about Same-sex Marriage Green Cards

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director, Alejandro Mayorkas discussed same-sex bi-national marriages at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in San Francisco. Director Mayorkas stated that USCIS has kept records of all immigrant petitions that were denied because of DOMA and that the cases could be reopened and gay spouses of U.S. Citizens could be granted green cards.

USCIS approves first Green Card application for same-sex spouse of a U.S. Citizen

Traian Popov, a Bulgarian married to a U.S. Citizen, has become the first same-sex spouse to be approved for a permanent resident visa. Mr. Popov, 41, said he had been living legally in the United States for 15 years with a series of student visas. USCIS made their decision on Friday June 28th only a few days after DOMA was struck down as unconstitutional.

Board of Immigration Appeals Recognizes Same-sex Marriages for Immigration Purposes

The BIA issued its first decision in which it supported a same-sex marriage for immigration purposes. On July 17th, 2013, in its decision In Matter of Oleg B. ZELENIAK, the BIA stated, “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor has therefore removed section 3 of the DOMA as an impediment to the recognition of lawful same-sex marriages and spouses if the marriage is valid under the laws of the State where it was celebrated.”

Homeland Security: Working to Implement Greencards and Visas for Gay Couples

Janet-NapolitanoSecretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano issued a statement regarding immigration after the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this morning.

“I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits.  I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

US Citizenship and Immigration Services falls under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. This is an excellent sign that same-sex green cards and visas will be coming soon. I look forward to working with many couples who have been separated for way too long simply because of their sexual orientation.

DOMA STRUCK DOWN : Can I get a Green Card?

gayimmigrationThis morning the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion writing that “the federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity…By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” In addition, the Court dismissed California’s Prop 8 case on jurisdictional grounds, essentially allowing Californians to continue with marriage equality.

These rulings paves the way for thousands of federal benefits to be available to same-sex couples, from California and through other states that allow same-sex marriage. This includes immigration benefits which come under federal law. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security, has routinely denied same-sex couples green cards and other immigration benefits on the grounds that DOMA prevented them from recognizing a same sex marriage as valid and a valid marriage is a requirement for marriage-based immigration applications and petitions.

Today, it is unclear if, how and how soon USCIS will begin processing marriage-based applications for same-sex couples. Most likely the Director of USCIS will issue a statement or policy memo regarding the matter. As that may take several days, weeks or even months, some immigration attorneys, myself included, plan to file same-sex marriage adjustment and fiancée visa cases as soon as possible to force USCIS to either approve these cases or give a new reason or “legitimate purpose” for denial. Now that DOMA is unconstitutional, I see no good reason to differentiate my opposite-sex marriage cases with gay marriage cases as long as the marriage is valid in the jurisdiction in which it took place.

For those same-sex couples interested in applying for immigration benefits for their spouses, I urge them to speak with an immigration attorney, as I would for any opposite-sex couple in the same situation. Immigration law and the green card process are quite complicated and these are uncharted grounds.

If you are a U.S. Citizen and your spouse entered the U.S. lawfully on a non-immigrant visa such as a student visa they may be able to apply for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident. You can find out more information on the adjustment of status process here.