As an immigration lawyer in Boston, I’m proud to be an advocate of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Given that same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts and elsewhere, the immigration question that I’m asked is usually this: can a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is legally married to a foreign national of the same sex file an I-130 visa petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have his or her spouse immigrate as an alien relative?
Sadly, for now at least, the answer to this question is a big “no.” The federal government, including USCIS and other federal immigration agencies, doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, even though such marriages are legal in Massachusetts and other states and countries.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) stands as a major obstacle to the recognition of same-sex marriage rights in the immigration context. DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for federal law purposes.
Ultimately, the constitutional argument for same-sex marriage is headed for the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, don’t bother to file an I-130 visa petition based on a same-sex marriage. Instead, contact me to set up a consultation to explore alternative immigration options.