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DOMA decision leads to green card for Virginia woman

brock-harmon-croppedA former British citizen has received lawful permanent resident status in the United States based on her same-sex marriage to a Virginia woman. It is one of a recent series of green card approvals based on same-sex marriage in the Norfolk immigration office, reports the lawyer for the couple.

Radlyn Mendoza of Virginia Beach said her clients were overjoyed when an official with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service presented them with the stamped and approved application Thursday morning.

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June Windsor decision mandating federal recognition of same-sex marriages, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in July directed immigration offices to review visa petitions filed on behalf of same-sex spouses in the same manner as those filed on behalf of opposite sex spouses.

Victoria Brock and Amanda Harmon of Lexington have been a couple for 16 years. Harmon even moved to England for 10 years to be with Brock, a British citizen, Mendoza said.

The two were married in Maryland in April.

Mendoza said the couple went through a marriage interview Thursday where they were asked about details of their relationship.

“The officer kind of gets a feel about the couple and rules out marriage fraud,” Mendoza said.

The officer put her stamp of approval on the application before the group left the office, Mendoza said.

“The clients actually left the building knowing they were approved,” she said. “They were just extremely happy.”

It was the first green card approval based on a same-sex marriage for the husband-and-wife law firm of Gardner-Mendoza in Virginia Beach, but Mendoza said the immigration officer said she had processed several others.

Two federal lawsuits in Virginia both seek to overturn the state’s long-standing ban on same-sex marriage. Maryland has allowed it since January following legislative approval and a statewide referendum.

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