Today’s Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is significant in immigration law. DOMA prevented same-sex marriages from enjoying the same immigration benefits as heterosexual married couples. Although it may take some time for implementation, USCIS will almost certainly begin to accept immigration petitions on behalf of same-sex couples legally married in jurisdictions that allow gay marriage. I expect USCIS will issue a statement in the near future regarding the DOMA decision and its plans to adjust to the ruling. Today’s decision also removes a potential roadblock for comprehensive immigration reform in which same-sex benefits was a significant point of contention. With the Court’s ruling, no special language will have to be included in the immigration reform bill to accommodate same-sex marriages.
UPDATE: Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a press release this afternoon stating, “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.”