Foreign nationals who are married to U.S. citizens of the same sex may apply for spousal green cards and other benefits, immigration authorities announced Monday, but it remains to be seen whether the government will issue them.
In the past, foreign same-sex spouses who sought the immigration benefits granted to heterosexual married couples were automatically rejected by the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services because of a law that barred the federal recognition of gay marriage.
But the agency has stopped that practice, at least temporarily, in light of last month’s decision by the Obama administration to no longer defend the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in court. Any such applications will now be put on hold until the agency receives guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s general counsel, spokesman Christopher S. Bentley said.
“USCIS has not implemented any change in policy and intends to follow the president’s directive to continue enforcing the law,” Bentley said in a statement. “USCIS has issued guidance to the field, asking that related cases be held in abeyance, while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues.”