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Supreme Court ruling could have impact on immigration

Although the U.S. Supreme Court handled a number of impactful cases this year, few are receiving as much attention as the ruling that struck down much of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. This move will extend many federal rights to married same-sex couples. Even though the state of South Carolina doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, the ruling could still have an impact on immigration status and other legal issues.

One federal right that married couples have is that they can invite their spouse to receive a green card if the spouse is a citizen of another country. In many cases, a "green card holder who has lived in the U.S. and been married to an American for at least three years can apply for naturalization," which is an important issue in terms of family-based immigration. Observers state that this ability will be extended to same-sex couples.

Currently, same-sex partners can't get married in Charleston -- or anywhere else in the state -- so that could complicate immigration issues in light of the high court's ruling. However, if South Carolina residents are married in a state that permits same-sex marriage, then the federal government may also recognize that union. This is likely to be among the questions that federal officials will sort out in the coming months.

When one half of a couple is unable to obtain a green card in the United States, they are likely to face deportation. Over the years, this has split up a number of families headed by a same-sex couple. As such, individuals may look to explore their legal options in order to bring their family together.

Source: Time, "DOMA Ruling’s Impact on Immigration," Miles Graham, June 27, 2013

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