BREAKING NEWS: Utah Same-Sex Marriages Recognized by USCIS for Immigration Benefits

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January 10, 2014

By Julie Oliver-Zhang, Esq.

Not so fast, Utah!  In response to Utah governor’s invalidation of over one thousand same-sex marriages earlier this week, Attorney General Holder published a video statement today that vindicated the federal rights of married same-sex couples in Utah.  He stated that:

“Last June, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, holding Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.  This ruling marked a historic step towards equality for all American families . . . .   I am confirming today, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.  These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds . . .  In days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled regardless if they are in same-sex or opposite sex marriages.”

In our last post that briefed the freezing of Utah same-sex marriages, we had discussed a potential solution for already married Utah same-sex couples to seek new marriage licenses in states that have legalized gay marriage.  This is no longer necessary.  Attorney General Holder’s new statement means that same-sex couples in Utah whom were married since last December will be eligible to submit their I-130 and other applications for spousal green card and other family immigration benefits to the USCIS.  However, other unwed same-sex couples with urgent immigration needs must now travel to a state or country that has legalized gay marriage in order to obtain new marriage licenses in order to apply for green cards or visas (with the exception of fiance visa, you can apply prior to marriage from anywhere in the U.S.).  Utah has for now halted further same-sex marriages.

Additionally, Attorney General Holder’s unequivocal tone and clear support affirming same-sex equal rights cannot be missed.  As a matter of policy, he is assuring the LGBT community and their families that their immigration and other federal benefits will be guarded and processed swiftly and smoothly.

You can contact our LGBT immigration attorneys to find out more about how the new changes in the law impact you and your family in terms of LGBT immigration to the United States.

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