IMMIGRATION

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Cynthia R. Exner, LLC

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                 203-830-4045

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LGBT Issues:

On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), holding it as unconstitutional. DOMA was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, and defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

When DOMA was overturned, President Obama directed the federal departments to ensure that the decision was implemented swiftly and smoothly throughout our federal agencies. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on July 1, 2013 immediately directed the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to accept and “review visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.” Statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on July 1, 2013.

Our firm is proud to be handling many petitions for permanent resident status, fiancé visas, and petitions for children of same-sex marriages on behalf of our clients. It is important to note, however, that the same-sex marriage celebration must occur, or have occurred in a state or foreign country which allows same-sex marriage. A Domestic Partnership or a Civil Union will not be accepted by USCIS. Only a full legal marriage will be accepted. “The law of the place where the marriage was celebrated determines whether the marriage is legally valid for immigration purposes.” USCIS Same-Sex Marriages

Some clients are in removal/deportation proceedings before the immigration court. Previously, there was no relief available to them. On June 26, 2013 law clerks from private immigration law firms were running down the street waiving the Supreme Court decision in the air, in an effort to stop their removal/deportation proceeding and allow the same-sex marriage petition to proceed. Clients can now stop them removal/deportation proceedings, marry their same-sex spouse, file their permanent resident petition and proceed to permanent resident status.

Same-Sex marriage now also permits a variety of other immigration benefits such as following to join family-sponsored cases and employer-sponsored cases ; included nonimmigrant family members for Student Visas/H-1B visas/L-1 visas, etc; included family members in refugee and asylum cases; and immediate relative children, amongst others.