Same-sex spouses to get U.S. visa benefit

Published: August 2, 2013

LONDON — The United States will immediately begin giving visa applications from same-sex spouses the same preferential consideration typically granted to opposite-sex spouses, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Friday.

The policy change means that a foreign national in a legal same-sex marriage with an American citizen can more easily acquire a U.S. entry visa and that applications from legally wed foreign gay couples will be considered jointly.

“If you’re the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you’re the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally,” Kerry said.

Kerry made the announcement in the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in London, one of the largest in the world. England and Wales approved gay marriage in July, but the law will not take effect until next year.

“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.

The secretary said the change results from a review of State Department regulations after the Supreme Court’s ruling in June overturning a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

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