Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that the United States would give the same treatment to married same-sex couples in the visa process application as married opposite sex-couples. Kerry’s announcement comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June that struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act and opened the way for same-sex marriage across the nation.
“Effective immediately, when same-sex spouses apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it will consider the application of opposite-sex spouses,” Kerry said at the American Embassy in London on Friday.
“If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a noncitizen your visa application will be treated equally,” he continued. “As long as a marriage has been performed in a jurisdiction that recognizes it, so that it is legal, then that marriage is valid under U.S. immigration laws and every married couple will be treated exactly the same.”
Kerry said that the announcement came as a result of President Obama’s request that federal agencies review their policies on same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s June ruling. The policy change was lauded by gay rights groups around the world. Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality and gay rights supporter, said that, until now, same-sex couples applying for visas at American embassies and consulates internationally met resistance in the application process as the agencies waited for the State Department to provide explicit guidance.
“There was a lot of frustration,” Tiven stated. But with Kerry’s announcement, things are looking up.
“We are relieved and pleased,” she said. “It brings a clarity that gay and lesbian couples around the world have been waiting for.”