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LGBT Couples Now Equally Eligible For Marriage Based Visas

The state department says it will view all marriage licenses as equal when considering spousal-based visas.

Even bi-national same-sex couples residing in states that don't recognize gay marriage are eligible for spousal based visas

Photo: Lee Haywood (Flickr)

Even bi-national same-sex couples residing in states that don't recognize gay marriage are eligible for spousal based visas

Even though Indiana doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, bi-national same-sex couples living in the Hoosier state can now get spousal-based visas.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday  the U.S. Department of State will equally consider same-sex couples’ and opposite-sex couples’ visa applications.

To understand the implications of Friday’s announcement, meet Daniel Soto and his husband Gary Pool.

Daniel came to America from Costa Rica 35 years ago. He met Gary in New York 31 years ago, the two were finally married in December last year. They live in Bloomington now. Twelve years and three visas later, Daniel is finally a U.S. citizen.

“Before now I knew people whose visas were cancelled and not allowed to re-enter the country to be with their partner and that’s why this is a very big step in a very positive way” Gary says.

The process will get easier now.

Typically foreign nationals married to U.S. citizens get priority in U.S. immigration. Now the same status will be given to same-sex couples applying for spousal visas.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Steve Sanders says because immigration is dealt with on the federal level, same-sex couples living in states like Indiana that don’t recognize same sex marriages, will still be able to to get spousal based visas.

“That does seem to be the upshot. The federal government can’t force Indiana for Indiana law purposes or anything that Indiana controls to recognize your marriage, but you know people will leave their state to go get married somewhere else” he says.

Only couples who are legally married will get the visa benefit which means same-sex couples living in Indiana will still have to go to another state to get married before being eligible for a spousal based visa.

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