Houston

Immigration Attorney

Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

Widows or widowers who were married to U.S. citizens at the time of the citizen’s death may apply for a green card. For further information, see sections 201(b)(2)(A)(i) and 204(a)(1)(A) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) and 8 CFR 204.2(i)(1)(iv) and 245.

Until October 28, 2009, you had to have been married to the deceased citizen for at least two years at the time of the deceased citizen’s death, in order to immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen. Congress removed this requirement, effective October 28, 2009.

To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen, and that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.

Widow(er) With Pending or Approved Immigrant Petition

If you were married to a U.S. citizen who had filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for you before he or she died, you do not need to file anything. The Form I-130 will be automatically converted to a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. If you have children (unmarried and under age 21), they may be included on the Form I-360 regardless of whether your deceased spouse had filed a petition for them.

To qualify, you must not have have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death. Your eligibility to immigrate as a widow(er) ends if you have remarried.

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Widow(er) Without a Pending or Approved Immigrant Petition

If you were married to U.S. citizen before the citizen’s death, but had no I-130 petition filed on your behalf, you can self-petition as an “immediate relative” on Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

To qualify, you must not have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death. Your eligibility to immigrate as a widow(er) ends if yout have remarried. You must file within 2 years of the citizen’s death.

If your citizen spouse did not have a Form I-130 pending at the time of death, you must file the Form I-360 no more than 2 years after the death of your citizen spouse.

If, however, you were married less than 2 years, and your citizen spouse died before October 28, 2009, you must file your Form I-360 no later than October 28, 2011.

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

Your unmarried children under the age of 21 (known as “derivatives”) may be included on your immigration petition.

As “immediate relatives,” your derivative children are granted benefits of the Child Status Protection Act, which “freezes” their ages as of the date of the principal’s filing of Form I-130 or I-360, whichever is applicable. This provision prevents them from aging-out if they turn 21 prior to adjudication of their adjustment-of-status or visa application. They must, however, continue to meet any other additional filing requirements.

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