Permanent Residency for Widows

Green Card for Widow(er)s of a U.S. Citizen

Previously, surviving spouses of a deceased U.S. citizen had no relief available if the spouse and the U.S. citizen were married for less than two years at the time of death.

Since 2009, it is possible for the surviving spouse to obtain a Green Card through a self-petition. The petition is time-sensitive because it must be filed within two years of the U.S. citizen’s death.

In time-sensitive cases it is recommended that you contact the Law Offices of Murad & Murad to file the application on your behalf.

To be able to immigrate as the widow(er) of a deceased U.S. citizen, the spouse must prove that he or she was legally married to the citizen, that the marriage was entered in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.

Widow(er) With Pending or Approved Immigrant Petition

If the U.S. citizen had filed a form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for his spouse before he or she died, the application will be automatically converted to a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

Any unmarried children under age 21 may be included on the Form I-360 regardless of whether the deceased spouse had filed a petition for them.

Widow(er) Without a Pending or Approved Immigrant Petition

If no I-130 petition was filed before the U.S. citizen’s death, the surviving spouse can file a petition as an “immediate relative” on Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

The Form I-360 must be filed within 2 years after the death of the U.S. citizen spouse.

Eligibility Criteria

A person may be eligible to receive Legal Permanent Residency status through widow/widower status if he or she:

  • Was married to a U.S. citizen at the time the citizen spouse passed away
  • Either has a pending or approved Form I-130 or has filed a Form

I-360 within 2 years of the U.S. citizen spouse’s death (or no later than Oct. 28, 2011, if the U.S. citizen died before Oct. 28, 2009, and both were married less than 2 years).

  • Has not remarried
  • Was not divorced or legally separated from the spouse at the time he or she died
  • Is able to prove that both were in a bona fide marital relationship until the  time of the spouse’s death
  • Is admissible to the United States

Children of Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

Unmarried children under the age of 21 may be included on the immigration petition.

As “immediate relatives,” the children are granted benefits of the Child Status Protection Act, which “freezes” their ages as of the date of filing of Form I-130 or I-360. 

This prevents them from aging-out if they turn 21 prior to processing their adjustment-of-status or visa application. They must, however, continue to meet any other additional filing requirements.

Make sure you contact the Law Offices of Murad & Murad immediately if you believe you have a case.