Same Sex Marriages and immigration
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court DOMA decision in June, President Obama directed the federal department to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.

For immigration purposes the Supreme court decision will impact
a) Same sex couples married in the United States, one spouse being a U.S. citizen the other spouse a non-U.S. citizen living in the U.S.
b) U.S. and non U.S. spouses living outside the United States and married in a country where same sex marriages are legal, for example France, Sweden or the U.K.
c) Same sex non-U.S. couples living outside the United States married legally in countries where same sex marriages are legal., applying for certain work visas like the H and L classifications.


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released some frequently asked question and answers pertaining to these issues:

Petitioning for my Spouse
Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can IO now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigration visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.
Q2: I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex. Can I file a fiancé petition for him or her?
A2: Yes. You may file a form I-129F. As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage.
Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes. You can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether is valid for immigration purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

Judging from these comments and the decision itself by the Supreme Court, it is my opinion as initially mentioned: Same sex foreign couples who were married in a country that recognize same sex marriages now will be able to apply for work visas such as the H and L classifications where the spouse is allowed to join the other spouse in the work visa petition.
Mind you; There will be situations were the immigration service and quite possibly the courts will have to decide on various situations for example: Two Russian nationals getting married in Sweden and living in Sweden; Can they “jointly” apply for a work visa to the U.S. as spouses? Probably, but what if they move back to Russia? What if they married in Sweden while only visiting Sweden as tourists? This just to give you an insight into the problems that undoubtedly will surface along the way implementing these new rules.
In my next article I will explain in detail the various benefits same sex couples now are entitled to apply for, residency requirements etc. However, if you have any question to the above, please contact me at and I will try to address those questions in another forthcoming article on the subject.
Jan G Johansson. Esq.
Attorney & Counselor at Law