The Obama administration has announced changes in immigration policy that could benefit gay couples.

The changes mean that deportation cases will be prioritised according to security risk, such as those with criminal convictions.

“Discretion” will be used in some cases, including those involving bi-national gay couples, it is understood.

Speaking on condition on anonymity, a senior administration official told The Washington Blade: “The prosecutorial discretion memo provides for the use of discretion for people with strong community ties, with community contributions and with family relationships.”

“We consider LGBT families to be families in this context,” the official added.

The White House has announced that it will review many of the 300,000 cases already in the system and drop those which are considered low-priority.

Cecilia Munoz, the administration’s director of Intergovernmental Affairs, said yesterday: “It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes.”

In the US, gay married couples do not have the same rights afforded to heterosexual married couples because of the Defence of Marriage Act. Although the Obama administration recently announced it would no longer defend the law in court, its policies still apply.

Earlier this month, a San Francisco gay couple who have been married for seven years told how one of them must soon leave the country.

Anthony John Makk, an Australian citizen who has no criminal convictions and has never been in the US illegally, has been told he must leave by August 25th.

Mr Makk acts as a carer to his husband Bradford Wells, who has severe AIDS-related health problems.