Metro Weekly

Immigration Official: “The Hold Is Over”

The “hold” on same-sex married bi-national couples’ green card applications — celebrated by immigration and LGBT advocates — is over, according to the spokesman for the agency that processes those requests.

“The guidance we were awaiting … was received last night, so the hold is over, so we’re back to adjudicating cases as we always have,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services press secretary Christopher Bentley told Metro Weekly this morning.

The agency will continue to “enforce the law,” he says, which means that the Defense of Marriage Act — which prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex marriages — prevents those green card applications from being approved. 

In the past, they had been denied because of DOMA, but the administration’s Feb. 23 decision to stop defending Section 3 of DOMA raised hopes for some that the USCIS and other immigration agencies would at least put such cases on hold while the constitutionality of DOMA was resolved.

The USCIS raised those hopes further when Bentley told Metro Weekly and, later, other news outlets on Monday, March 28, “USCIS has issued guidance to the field asking that related cases be held in abeyance while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues.”

That night, however, an official from the Department of Homeland Security told Metro Weekly, “[P]ursuant to CIS’s routine practice when there’s a new law or regulation that will potentially affect their resolution of certain cases, they hold [the cases] in abeyance until they get the final guidance from the general counsel’s office,” the official said.

That final guidance, USCIS’s Bentley tells Metro Weekly, was received last night, March 29.

Asked if districts would be able to put cases on hold while awaiting a final court determination about the constitutionality of DOMA, Bentley said, “No. The guidance is the same policy that has always been in place,” which he said is to “enforce the law.”

Asked if that means applications of same-sex bi-national couples would continue to be denied now as they had in the past, Bentley said, “Correct, based on the enforcement of DOMA.”

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!