In 2012, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case U.S. v. Windsor. The Court essentially held that the United States federal government could not deny federal benefits, like immigration, to same sex couples who were legally married. Importantly, the Court said that if the state in which the couple was married recognized their marriage as legal, then the federal government must recognize it as well.
This decision has led to important immigration benefits for international LGBT families. It means that marriage based immigration petitions submitted by same sex couples will be treated exactly the same as those submitted by opposite sex couples. For example, a same sex couple will now be able to submit an I-130 marriage petition in which the U.S. citizen spouse sponsors the foreign spouse for a green card. If the foreign national spouse is otherwise eligible, he or she would then be able to submit an I-485 application to adjust status and receive a green card. An engaged U.S. citizen will now be able to submit a petition for his or her fiancé to come to the United States on a fiancé visa, regardless of the sex of the fiancé. Additionally, a person who is working in the United States on a visa, such as an H1B visa, will now be able to include his or her same sex spouse as a derivative on the visa.
Schwamkrug, Freshwater & Lopez, PLLC, is a proud member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. We are very excited that so many immigration options have opened up for LGBT families, and are pleased to be able to offer excellent legal services to families from all over the world.