New York: “I do!” — USCIS: “Not yet, pal!”
Congratulations to the citizens of New York for the practical and humane approach taken by their Legislature and Governor in the approval of same-sex marriage last week! As leading advocates for immigrants in the gay and lesbian community, the attorneys at Los Angeles’ Fong & Aquino have counseled thousands of clients from all over the nation and the world about uniting families which are not traditionally shaped.
Beware! It is still NOT possible for same-sex couples to marry and to have the US citizen spouse petition for legal permanent resident status (the so-called green card) for the foreign spouse. This prohibition applies even when the couple both marries and resides in New York.
A same-sex marriage in New York (or from any other state or country, for that matter) will not be recognized for purposes of Federal immigration benefits. This includes Family Petitions for alien spouses, and also includes spouse-as-dependent on any other residency application. The culprit here is the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would remedy this, permitting the recognition for immigration purposes of domestic partners who are in a committed same-sex relationship. This bill is regularly introduced in Congress. It is not yet law, however.
So, New Yorkers, raise a glass to your friends, families, and loved ones. And stay patient on the repeal of DOMA or the passage of UAFA. –jcf