U.S. to begin processing visa applications for married gay couples

"Every married couple will be treated exactly the same," Kerry announced Friday from the U.S. Embassy in London

By Katie McDonough
August 3, 2013 12:27AM (UTC)
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Secretary of State John Kerry gives policy address on same-sex spouses applying for U.S. visas, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, at the U.S. Embassy in London. The U.S. will immediately begin considering visa applications of gay and lesbian spouses in the same manner as heterosexual couples, Kerry said on Friday. (AP Photo/Jason Reed. Pool) (AP)

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the United States will begin processing visa applications from same-sex spouses in the same preferential manner as applications from opposite-sex spouses, effective immediately.

Kerry announced the news from the U.S. Embassy in London, saying, "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."


“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," he continued.

More on the change from the Washington Post:

Previously, all applications from adults seeking to enter the United States were considered individually unless the adults were an opposite-sex married couple. That was not the case for U.S. citizens who married their foreign partners in states or countries where same-sex marriage is legal and then sought to bring their spouses to the United States to work or live.

Married same-sex couples from the 15 countries with national laws in force legalizing same-sex marriage will be evaluated for visas together, as will same-sex applicants from states in Mexico that have legalized same-sex marriage. Mexico, like the United States, has legalized same-sex marriage only in some states.

The change also applies to couples applying in countries that do not legally recognize gay unions, Kerry explained: "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.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Bi-national Couples Gay Marriage Immigration Immigration Reform Marriage Equality Visas