Serving Individuals, Families and Businesses in The San Gabriel Valley
Sound Legal Advice from Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law Get All Caught Up on Our Newest Posts.

Same Sex Immigration Qualifications in the United States

The recent decision by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges put same sex marriage in the news by making it legal in all 50 states. In June 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage is recognized as valid by the federal government.

Same Sex Immigration Benefits Are Available

Upon the issuance of the Windsor decision, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano immediately directed United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to “review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.” This was effective as of July 1, 2013.

What this means is that any immigration benefits that result from becoming a spouse of an opposite-sex individual are now available to those who have same sex spouses.

Sample Qualifications for a Same Sex Spouse of a U.S. Citizen

One common immigration benefit that leads to lawful permanent resident status (LPR) results from an immigrant’s marriage to a U.S. Citizen. There are generally two ways to obtain LPR status through marriage to a U.S. Citizen, and it depends on whether the immigrant lives in the U.S. and was inspected by the Border Patrol or paroled when they last entered the U.S.

To qualify for LPR status through a same sex marriage, you first need to show that your marriage is recognized as valid under the jurisdiction where you were married. If you were married in California, for instance, same sex marriages were valid for only a short window of time a few years ago; now, of course, same sex marriages are valid in all 50 states. However, if you were “married” in a country that does not recognize same sex marriage, such as India, your marriage would not be considered valid under immigration laws.

Therefore, it is important to obtain an assessment of whether you are eligible for immigration benefits even though the U.S. immigration laws now recognize same sex marriages as valid.

Children and Other Potential Beneficiaries of Same Sex Immigration

Immigration law allows for the granting of green cards or other immigration statuses. For instance, in the example above, if the same sex spouse has a child that is not yet an adult, that child may be able to obtain lawful permanent residency at the same time as the same sex spouse.

Another example where the same sex immigration can benefit others is when an individual is granted asylum status, but their same sex spouse still resides in another home country. Under the changes in immigration law, that marriage is considered a valid marriage, and that same sex spouse can immigrate to the U.S. under “follow to join” benefits.


Recent changes in law make benefits that have been available only to opposite sex spouses available to same sex spouses. Those who are part of a same sex marriage should not be afraid of applying for immigration benefits that might be available to you. The lawyers at Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law can help you assess and apply for those benefits.