Message from OIA Director Tamara Felden regarding U.S v. Windsor and the end of DOMA

Tamara FeldenDear Members of our International Community,

Good news in regard to immigration come around rather infrequently.  So I am very pleased at a development that broadens access to international education for a population of international students and scholars who have had extremely limited options in the past: our same sex married couples from around the world.

The recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court in U.S v. Windsor held that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which recognized as legal only a marriage between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.  As a result of this ruling, same-sex spouses are now eligible for the same federal benefits as heterosexual spouses, including immigration benefits.  

Those of you who married your same-sex spouse in a state or country that legally recognizes same-sex marriages can now obtain a dependent status for that spouse and, if applicable, your children.  Same-sex spouses who had to obtain separate statuses to enter the U.S can now change to a dependent status in the U.S., if they are otherwise eligible for the status and desire to make this change.   It is important to note that a civil union or domestic partnership is not considered in the same vein as marriage.  For more detailed information, please see our Spouses and Partners page.  Additional information can be found at the USCIS FAQ and the State Department FAQ and addresses how various government agencies are proceeding.

Advisers at OIA will be happy to meet with you to provide further guidance.  To make an appointment with your OIA adviser, please call (773) 702-7752 or email us at

With best wishes for a successful and happy start into the new academic year,

Tamara Felden