March 31, 2014 is the deadline to reopen I-130 visa petitions that were denied by USCIS prior to the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the United States v. Windsor case in June 2013. Specifically, the petition must have been denied based on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that the US Supreme Court held to be unconstitutional. Many of these cases were reopened by USCIS on its own. But, if you haven’t heard directly from them already, it is important to make contact with the agency either directly or through your attorney before March 31, 2014.
USCIS states the following in its FAQs.
Q5. My Form I-130, or other petition or application, was previously denied solely because of DOMA. What should I do?
A5. USCIS will reopen those petitions or applications that were denied solely because of DOMA section 3. If such a case is known to us or brought to our attention, USCIS will reconsider its prior decision, as well as reopen associated applications to the extent they were also denied as a result of the denial of the Form I-130 (such as concurrently filed Forms I-485). USCIS will make a concerted effort to identify denials of I-130 petitions that occurred on the basis of DOMA section 3 after February 23, 2011. USCIS will also make a concerted effort to notify you (the petitioner), at your last known address,
of the reopening and request updated information in support of your petition.
To alert USCIS of an I-130 petition that you believe falls within this category,
USCIS recommends that you send an e-mail from an account that can receive replies to USCIS at USCISemail@example.com stating that you have a pending petition. USCIS will reply to that message with follow-up questions as necessary to update your petition for processing. (DHS has sought to keep track of DOMA denials that occurred after the President determined not to defend Section 3 of DOMA on February 23, 2011, although to ensure that DHS is aware of your denial,
please feel free to alert USCIS if you believe your application falls within this category.)
For denials of I-130 petitions that occurred prior to February 23, 2011, you must notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, in order for USCIS to act on its own to reopen your I-130 petition. Please notify USCIS by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-
firstname.lastname@example.org and noting that you believe that your petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.
Once your I-130 petition is reopened, it will be considered anew–without regard to DOMA section 3–based upon the information previously submitted and any new information provided. USCIS will also concurrently reopen associated applications as may be necessary to the extent they also were denied as a result of the denial of the I-130 petition (such as concurrently filed Form I-485 applications).
Additionally, if your work authorization was denied or revoked based upon the denial of the Form I-485, the denial or revocation will be concurrently reconsidered, and a new Employment Authorization Document issued, to the extent necessary. If a decision cannot be rendered immediately on a reopened adjustment of status application, USCIS will either (1) immediately process any pending or denied application for employment authorization or (2) reopen and approve any previously revoked application for employment authorization. If USCIS has already obtained the applicant’s biometric information at an Application Support Center (ASC), a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be produced and delivered without any further action by the applicant. In cases where USCIS has not yet obtained the required biometric information, the applicant will be scheduled for an ASC appointment.
If another type of petition or application (other than an I-130 petition or associated application) was denied based solely upon DOMA section 3, please notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCISemail@example.com as directed above. USCIS will promptly consider whether reopening of that petition or application is appropriate under the law and the circumstances presented.
No fee will be required to request USCIS to consider reopening your petition or application pursuant to this procedure. In the alternative to this procedure, you may file a new petition or application to the extent provided by law and according to the form instructions including payment of applicable fees as directed.