Mithras Law Group Immigration Blog

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USCIS To Process Applications of Widow(er)s of Deceased U.S. Citizens

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The President recently signed the FY2010 DHS Appropriations Act into law, allowing eligible widows or widowers of U.S. citizens to qualify for permanent resident status regardless of how long the couple was married. The new law amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by removing the two-year marriage requirement previously necessary for a widow(er) to qualify for permanent resident status as an immediate relative of his or her late U.S. citizen spouse. Additionally, when a widow(er) qualifies as an immediate relative under the law, his or her unmarried minor children will also qualify for the same status. The law applies equally to widow(er)s living abroad, who are seeking immigrant visas and widow(er)s in the United States, who want to become permanent residents based on their marriage.

These provisions of the FY2010 DHS Appropriations Act relate only to the impact of the citizen’s death on a widow(er)’s eligibility for classification as an immediate relative.  All other requirements for approval of a visa petition remain in force.  Specifically, the widow(er) must still establish that:

  • He or she was the citizen’s legal spouse.
  • The marriage was bona fide and not an arrangement solely to confer immigration benefits to the beneficiary.
  • He or she has not remarried.
  • He or she is admissible as an immigrant.
  • In an adjustment of status case, that he or she meets all other adjustment eligibility requirements and merits a favorable exercise of discretion. 


For more details see the USCIS Fact Sheet.


Written by MithrasLaw

January 5, 2010 at 5:12 pm

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