As thousands took to the streets of the US yesterday to celebrate the news that the Supreme Court had overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), many were already starting to speculate on the impact this decision could have on US immigration law.
Many believe that now DOMA has been held unconstitutional and overturned, it is probable that the immigration service (USCIS) will begin approving marriage-based petitions for same-sex spouses.
The impact could be significant for so many people.
For example Nepal native Satyam Barakoti, 36, who lives in Atlanta, discovered the sex of her first baby already on Monday. She has been with her partner for five years. They own a house and run a nonprofit consulting agency, but until the Supreme Court’s decision they were forced to discuss the possibility of moving abroad — to Canada or Thailand as Satyam’s partner could not sponsor her for her green card. Although her child would be a US citizen, sponsor must be 21 years of age or older.
There are of course still no guarantees with what will happen moving forward. We need to see how USCIS starts treating such applications in light of the decision. Furthermore, decision will still depend on the facts and details of each specific case, and in particular on the foreign national spouse’s immigration present status and intentions.
However whilst the devil is of course always in the detail, the fact remains this is a positive step in allowing the federal government to treat LGBT families equally by allowing them access to federal benefits and protections.
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