The Board of Immigration Appeals Refuses to Agree with CIS Decisions Denying Green Cards to Gay Partners who were Legally Married in their States, Despite the Federal Defense of Marriage Act
In June 2012, in four separate cases of CIS decisions in states where gay marriage was considered legal under state law, the BIA ordered the USCIS to complete full fact-finding to determine whether the marriages are legally valid and whether the spouse would qualify for a green card under the Immigration & Nationality Act if the Defense of Marriage Act did not exist. In one case, the ruling re-opened removal proceedings for the spouse of a gay American who had an outstanding deportation order. The Board of Immigration Appeals has never before re-opened removal proceedings or remanded green card petitions back to USCIS after denials based solely on DOMA Section 3. Currently, the Defense of Marriage Act serves as CIS’s basis for refusing to grant green cards to gay spouses of US citizens because DOMA defines marriage as between heterosexuals only for purposes of federal benefits. DOMA has not been overturned by the US Supreme Court to date.
Attorney Heather L. Poole practices exclusively in the area of U.S. family-based immigration law and citizenship law. Heather is a nationally-published immigration author, frequent lecturer on immigration issues, and member & officer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Southern California Chapter. For more information about Heather and the services offered, visit www.humanrightsattorney.com
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