• DOMA and Immigration: Practical Implications of the Supreme Court’s Decision
  • July 17, 2013 | Authors: Andrew W. Merrills; Stephen H. Smalley
  • Law Firms: Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. - Atlanta Office ; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. - Raleigh Office
  • On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in United States v. Windsor. The Court ruled that a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had denied federal benefits to same-sex partners, is unconstitutional.

    The legal impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling means that same-sex spouses are now entitled to the same treatment under federal law as opposite-sex spouses. In the immigration context, same-sex spouses will now have access to immigration benefits. In our blog post of July 8, 2013, we discussed the practical effect of this ruling on those individuals who may potentially benefit from its consequences.

    Though federal agencies have been instructed to accept same-sex filings immediately, individuals who may benefit from this ruling should anticipate that confusion on the part of federal authorities over the new directive, and the lack of practical guidance in the administration of same-sex immigration benefits, will lead to delays and possible rejections and denials of visa applications as the government reviews the impact of the decision on existing law and develops guidance.