The Obama administration on Thursday announced immigration policy changes that could help gay bi-national couples facing the threat of deportation under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Under the new policy, the administration will prioritize deportation cases based on security risk.

High-priority cases involve people who have been convicted of crimes.

Factors to be considered include whether the immigrant is married to a U.S. Citizen, the length of lawful stay in the United States, and his or her contributions to the community.

“The prosecutorial discretion memo provides for the use of discretion for people with strong community ties, with community contributions and with family relationships,” an unnamed senior administration official told gay weekly the Washington Blade.

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

The marriages of gay and lesbian couples are not recognized by immigration officials because DOMA bars it.

While the policy changes are not tailored to address the inequity bi-national gay couples face, by recognizing gay couples as families they offer real hope.

Steve Ralls, a spokesman for Immigration Equality, said the guidance sounded like “good news.”

“While Immigration Equality has not yet seen the written guidelines that will accompany the changes the agency has announced, our understanding is that the guidance is meant to be LGBT-inclusive,” Ralls told the paper.