Today Minnesota and Rhode Island became the 12th and 13th U.S. states to recognize same-sex marriage.
And dozens of gay couples exchanged vows celebrating the new laws legalizing same-sex marriage in these states.
This comes at a great time for gay rights. In June, a Supreme Court decision altered the Defense of Marriage Act by striking down a section that was unconstitutional: Section 3 denied same-sex couples due process, a right guaranteed to all Americans under the Fifth Amendment.
Same-sex couples married in Minnesota and Rhode Island will be able to receive federal benefits previously denied. This includes petitioning for same-sex marriage green cards.
Rhode Island and Minnesota join California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C. The national gay rights group Freedom to Marry estimates that 30 percent of the U.S. population lives in states where same-sex marriage is legalized.
The new rules for same-sex green card petitions do clarify that as long as you were legally married in a place that recognizes gay marriage you can petition your spouse for a Green Card. This means that the same-sex green card application is available to you even if you no longer live in a state where gay marriage is legal.
When reviewing the green card petitions, USCIS will check the law of the place where you married and determine if you will be eligible to file a green card application. Nevertheless, USCIS will still review applications on a case-by-case basis, which means the state of residence may be taken into consideration depending on the individual’s situation.