US immigration officials have confirmed that the Defense of Marriage Act still applies to gay spouses seeking a green card.

The US Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS) briefly put gay spouses’ applications on hold while it took legal advice but has now returned to processing them.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced that it would not longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The 1993 act prohibits federal government from recognising the marriages of gay couples and foreign same-sex spouses who apply for spousal green cards are automatically rejected.

A USCIS spokesman, Christopher S Bentley, confirmed last Wednesday that the hold had ended.

He said: “USCIS has not implemented any change in policy and intends to follow the president’s directive to continue enforcing the law.”