In addition to USCIS’s implementation of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), an appellate judicial board has further confirmed that Section 3 of DOMA is no longer a barrier to receiving federal immigration benefits. In Matter of Zeleniak, 26 I&N Dec. 158 (BIA 2013), the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) ruled that in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, same sex marriages conducted in states where legally recognized, are recognized as marriages under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Of course, just as in any other type of marriage case, the couple must prove the bona-fide nature of the marital relationship, so in this particular case, the Board remanded the case back to USCIS to allow the Petitioner the opportunity to prove that his marriage relationship with Mr. Zeleniak was legitimate and not entered into for immigration purposes. This case is important for not only confirming and establishing that gay marriages are legally recognized under the Immigration and Nationality Act but they may also serve as bases for other types of petitions and forms of relief, including fiancé petitions, waivers of removability and inadmissibility, and cancellation of removal.
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