U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Prop 8: The Probable Impact on the Work Environment
The recent U.S. Supreme Court Case regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. Schlain, No. 12-307 (U.S. 2013)) has numerous immigration consequences for certain same-sex spouses that are married. The June 26, 2013 decision opens the door for many immigration benefits for certain qualifying spouses.
If the marriage takes place in a state that recognizes a same-sex marriage, then U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (US CIS) will allow the U.S. Citizen or permanent resident partner to sponsor their foreign national spouse for permanent residency in the U.S. Currently, there are 14 states where the marriage will be recognized as valid for immigration purposes, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Washington DC.
And the U.S. Citizen spouse could even sponsor the foreign national partner on a fiancé visa if they are overseas and plan to marry within 90 days of entry to the U.S.
In addition, it will allow non-immigrants who are applying for a temporary visa (such as H-1B, L-1, TN, etc.) to have their spouses join them on a derivative visa if their same-sex marriage is recognized as valid in the overseas country where the marriage took place. Currently, there are 15 countries that recognize same sex-marriages including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Uruguay.
US CIS has indicated that the place of marriage (celebration) will dictate eligibility as opposed to the current place of residency. For example, if a couple marries in California and then moves to Wyoming, then they will still be able to petition for permanent residency since the location of the ‘place of celebration” of the marriage controls.
Spouses may also marry overseas in a country that recognizes same-sex marriages and US CIS will recognize that marriage for visa purposes.
Employers may be faced with challenges regarding time off requests and benefits that may or may not be offered by the employer. You must understand that personal sentiments must be left outside of the workplace. This is an area that will probably begin a new series of litigation if employers are not careful. Furthermore, keep in mind, this is an emotional issue for many and when emotions enter into the picture, it usually ends up spelling disaster for employers. Be patient, and understanding, as we move along this trail.