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Death of Section 3 of DOMA Opens Immigration Benefits to Same-sex Couples

The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, was a federal law that barred recognition of same-sex couples as spouses for the purpose of federal marriage benefits. Section 3 of the law prevented same-sex couples, even those who had been legally married in their state of residence, from receiving a host of benefits, which included insurance for government employees, social security survivors’ benefits, immigration, bankruptcy and the filing of joint tax returns.  Section 3 of DOMA defined marriage  as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refered only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife”. In the landmark case, United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. This decision essentially marked the death of Section 3 of DOMA and opened federal rights to married same-sex couples.

Although United States v. Windsor dealt with a tax controversy, its ruling eliminated any distinction between heterosexual and same-sex marriage in the area of immigration as well. Prior to the Windsor decision, DOMA prevented a U.S. citizen in a same-sex marriage from petitioning for a foreign national spouse. It also prevented a homosexual citizen from obtaining a K-1 visa for a same-sex fiancé(e). These limitations placed extreme hardships on same-sex couples who wanted to have a life together in the U.S.

Today, gay and lesbian U.S. citizens can sponsor their same-sex partners the same way heterosexual citizens do: by filing a family petition (I-130) for a foreign national spouse or a K-1 visa (I-129F) for a foreign national fiancé(e). This starts the process that leads to legal permanent residence for the foreign national.

Many individuals who are legally married to same-sex partners have received green cards following the Supreme Court decision on DOMA.

If you have questions about immigration rights for same-sex couples, come to Bretz & Coven, LLP for knowledgeable and courteous legal assistance. We can help facilitate the process, saving you time, frustration and expense. Call us today at 212-267-2555 or contact us online to schedule a confidential appointment.

Immigration Consequences of Criminal and Fraudulent Conduct
The immigration consequences of criminal or fraudulent conduct can be harsh and often illogical. Even a very minor offense could have a dramatic immigration consequence, including deportation, detention without bond, being denied naturalization, a visa or re-entry into the United States. Likewise, the use of fake or fraudulent documents, aliases, and other misrepresentations can have similar immigration consequences. Kerry Bretz and Bretz & Coven have been counseling non-citizen criminal defendants, as well as their lawyers, for over 20 years. We have a long history of strategizing deportation and removal defenses, as well as applications for waivers, in very complicated cases.

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"Was trying to get Green Card since about 7 years. Finally when I switched to this law firm I was able to get green card very fast with great confidence. Big thanks to Eileen, Kerry, Manjit and Olga." - Dinesh, Kansas

""With an extensive criminal history: over 14 arrests, 2 State prison bids and several felony convictions no lawyer wanted my case in 2010. Thanks to the experts at Bretz & Coven who worked diligently and with precision, today I am a United States citizen." - E.A. Brooklyn, NY

"Absolutely one the best, if not the best immigration attorneys. They helped from start to finish in my green card process. At no point was I blind-sided by anything. Simply amazing!" - Leon B. Jersey City,

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