Secretary of State John Kerry announced on August 2 that the United States will begin issuing immigrant visas to same-sex couples and that their applications will receive equal consideration. As reported by Politico, the announcement by Kerry is welcoming news for same-sex couples where one spouse is not a U.S. citizen.
If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be equally. If you are in a country that doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centers around the world.”
The key requirement in Kerry’s breakdown is validity of the marriage within the jurisdiction, either U.S. or the country where the marriage actually took place. This also means that an engaged couple where the fiancée is from a country that does not recognized same-sex marriage can still apply for a visa.
The change can be attributed to the Supreme Court ruling in June, which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and deemed it unconstitutional. In the process, same-sex couples became eligible for many of the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
Rep. Eliot Engel, ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs committee believes the change is simple the “right thing to do” and no one who is legally married should be denied a visa “simply because of the gender of their spouse.”
The decision is reflecting the effects of the DOMA repeal and showing same-sex couples who are legally married that they do stand on a ground of equal benefits.