Secretary of State John Kerry announces issuance of U.S. immigrant visas to married same-sex couples

On Friday Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States will issue immigrant visas to same-sex couples. The visas will be issued to couples who were married in a jurisdiction that legally recognizes marriages of same-sex couples, even if the visa application is filed in a location that does not recognize those marriages.

"I’m very pleased to be able to announce that 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," he said.  "And here is exactly what this rule means:  If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally.  If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally.  And if you are in a country that doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centers around the world."

The announcement comes following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2013 in which a key section of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) was declared unconstitutional. Prior to the ruling, gay and lesbian American citizens and permanent residents were prevented from sponsoring their spouses for immigrant visas, one of the federal benefits granted by marriage.