DHS to Reconsider Immigration Petitions for Gay Couples

Published by: USA Today

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is beginning a system-wide review of cases where U.S. citizens were denied green cards for their same-sex couples.

Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that gay and lesbian couples would for the first time be able to secure green cards for their foreign spouses as other couples can.

In new guidelines issued Friday morning, the department said it would initiate a "concerted effort" to review all applications that were filed, and denied, by same-sex couples after Feb. 23, 2011. The department said it has tried to keep track of all denials based on the Defense of Marriage Act after that date, which is when President Obama decided his administration would not defend the act in court.

Gay and lesbian couples could also request a review of their denied case, whether the decision was handed down before or after that date.

The new guidelines also allow U.S. citizens to bring those they're engaged to into the country ahead of scheduled marriages.

"As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage," the guidelines state.

Immigration Equality, a group that has pushed for changes in immigration laws for gays and lesbians, says as many as 36,000 couple stand to benefit from the court's ruling.

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