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Green Cards for Widowed Immigrants

Although immigration reform in the United States seems as if it may not be approved and enacted anytime soon, there have been a few new laws, rules, and amendments that have improved the path to legal status for many foreigners.

One of the most welcomed amendments to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted in 2009. Public Law 111-83 effectively did away with what was then known as the “widow penalty.” Before 2009, immigrants who married American citizens saw their petitions for legal residence quashed if their spouses passed away within two years of their marriage.

In the past, widowed immigrants sometimes rushed into another marriage with an American citizen just to avoid becoming undocumented. By doing this, the widowed immigrants were sometimes treated suspiciously by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) staff who questioned the validity of back-to-back marriages.

President Barack Obama was quick to approve the amendment of the law. These days, widowed immigrants are eligible to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residents as long as:

– They were legally married to the U.S. citizen when he or she passed away.
– No divorce or separation proceedings were pending at the time of death.
– The widowed immigrants have not remarried.
– Proof that the marriage was legal is available.
– Widows have a pending Form I-130 or are willing to file a Form I-360.

Widowed immigrants with pending I-130 applications should be able to get their green cards easily once the USCIS learns about the demise of the sponsor. In this case, the USCIS will convert the I-130 to an I-360.

Assistance from an experienced San Diego immigration attorney may be required once the USCIS sets up a date for an interview to establish the bona fide status of the marriage during the time the sponsor was alive. If a form I-130 was not submitted prior to the death of the spouse, it is a good idea to retain an immigration lawyer to start the process.

It is important to note that the children of the widowed immigrant can be listed on the I-360 application so that they can also receive immigration benefits if they are under the age of 21.

If you or someone you know requires professional assistance filing the appropriate forms, preparing for a USCIS interview, or would like to know more about how to legally obtain a green card, reach out to KS Visa Law. We specialize in family immigration in San Diego and can help you through each step of the process. Don’t hesitate to call us at (858) 874-0711 and request a free consultation.

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