Marrying in a State that Recognizes Gay Marriage, then Living in One That Doesn’t

  • map of states

One of the most common questions encountered at our practice is whether a same-sex couple is eligible for immigration benefits if they married in a state that recognizes and permits gay marriage, but now reside in a state that does not recognize gay marriage.

The answer is yes. As long as your marriage was legal and valid in the state in which it occurred, USCIS will recognize your  marriage even if you now live in a state that does not recognize gay marriage. The reason is that immigration laws and rights are entirely federal in nature; states cannot create laws dealing with immigration. As long as the federal government chooses to recognize your marriage, which it does for immigration purposes no matter what state your currently reside in, you can access the same immigration benefits that opposite-sex couples can.

Which states recognize gay marriage?

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota (commencing August 1, 2013)
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Rhode Island (commencing August 1, 2013)
  • Vermont
  • Washington State

As long as one of these states will marry you and your same-sex partner, and your marriage is legal (as in, you’re not currently married to another person), you will be considered married for immigration purposes even if you are, and never were, a resident of that state. Note that USCIS must still make a determination as to the genuineness of your marriage (you married for love, not solely for immigration benefits).

Noorian Law Firm can help with your same-sex marriage based immigration matters no matter where you reside. Please contact us for a free consultation. 


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