Gay binational couple in the US first to receive confirmation of green card approval after DOMA ruling

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A Bulgarian man in the US, who is married to an American man, has become the first gay spouse to receive confirmation of approval for a permanent resident visa, following the US Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Traian Popov, a Bulgarian man, a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lives with his partner Julian Marsh, an American citizen. He received the news that his green card application had been approved, by email on Friday, reports NewsMax.

“It was just kind of a shock, like winning the lottery,” Marsh said. “The amazing overwhelming fact is that the government said yes, and my husband and I can live in the country we chose and we love and want to stay in.”

The pair were celebrating Marsh’s 55th birthday at a local restaurant when they received the news. Popov, who is 41, had stayed in the US on student visas for 15 years.

The Supreme Court decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has had a significant impact of binational US same-sex couples. Many have faced long immigration battles, with the fear of the non-US citizen in the couple being deported.

Popov and Marsh were married in 2012 in new York, and had filed for Popov’s green card in February, however DOMA, prior to being struck down, had prevented the federal government from recognising their marriage, since it defined marriage as between one man and one woman specifically.

The Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA allows same-sex married couples the same federal benefits as straight couples.

The US Immigration and Citizenship Services, which issues visas, had officially announced that it would start issuing approvals this week, however officials began sending notices on Friday.

The agency had kept a list for the past two years of rejected same-sex couples’ who had applied for green cards, in order to issue reversal notices on the rejected decisions, without having to ask the couples to reapply.

Last week a New York City immigration judge immediately stopped the deportation of a gay Colombian man who is legally married to an American citizen just minutes after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.