Green Card for a widow or widower – If you were married to a U.S. citizen at the time of their death, you may still be considered eligible to apply for a green card. This entry will focus on eligibility, the application process, and special circumstances which might affect the steps taken by an applicant widow(er).
Who is Eligible?
You may be eligible to receive a green card through widow/widower status if you:
- Were married to a U.S. citizen at the time they passed away;
- Either have a pending or approved Form I-130 or you have filed a Form I-360 within 2 years of your spouse’s death (or no later than October 28, 2011, if your citizen spouse died before October 28, 2009, and you were married less than 2 years);
- Are not remarried;
- Were not divorced or legally separated from your spouse at the time he or she died;
- Are able to prove that you were in a bona fide marital relationship until the time of your spouse’s death;
- Are admissible to the United States.
What is the Application Process?
The process for receiving your green card can be initiated by completing and filing Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, along with all supporting documentation and any applicable filing fees to the USCIS. If a Form I-360 was filed by your spouse before they passed away, the petition will be considered by USCIS as if you had filed it yourself, so there would be no need to reapply under these circumstances.
If you Live Inside or Outside the U.S.
Similar to a family-based petition, once Form I-360 is approved, the next step is determined by where the beneficiary spouse of the petition is physically located. If the beneficiary is physically present in the United States, they may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This would allow the beneficiary to stay in the U.S. while their application is pending.
Alternatively, if the beneficiary of the petition is in another country, their approved petition would be forwarded overseas to their closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, where they would undergo a process known as consular processing.
Children of a Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
Unmarried children under the age of twenty-one may be included on the Form I-360 petition as derivatives.
These applications can involve a tremendous amount of forms, supporting documentation, and other case-specific evidence. It is important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before considering this option. The attorneys at Gilles Law, PLLC are here to assist you with your immigration inquiries.
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