After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a gay couple in Florida is the first to have their application for immigration benefits approved. Traian Popov is Bulgarian and in the United States on a student visa. According to the Associated Press, the benefits approval means he will be able to apply for a green card and eventually receive U.S. citizenship.
Popov and his husband Julian Marsh were notified by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services on June 28 that their green card petition was approved. The AP said the government began reviewing applications for green cards and immigration benefits for same-sex couples on July 1. Lavi Soloway of The DOMA Project said his organization has filed nearly 100 green card petitions since 2010 and in the wake of the Supreme Court decision expects approvals to increase.
“Now all of those cases can go forward in the way they should with the government respecting the fact that there is a legally recognizable marriage there,” Laura Lichter, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the AP.
Popov and Marsh are just one couple of about 36,000 where one spouse in a same-sex marriage is a U.S. citizen and the other is not. The couple began dating in 2011 and Popov was only allowed to remain in the United States as long as he was enrolled in school studying for his master’s degree in social sciences. However, the AP said that when he graduated he would have been required to leave the country if not for the DOMA ruling – something the couple was willing to do.
“We were willing to do that,” Marsh told New York Magazine. “We were planning on doing that. We were discussing where to move to. Thanks to the Supreme Court we can stay in our home now. We can be in the country that we love.”