Green Card for Widow(er)s of Deceased U.S. Citizens


Until October 28, 2009, the marriage to the deceased citizen had to have happened at least two years of the deceased citizen’s death, in order to immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen. U.S. government did away with the “widow penalty” and now it does not matter if you were married for less than two years.

All widows or widowers who were married to U.S. citizens at the time of the citizen’s death may apply for a green card.

To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen,

If an immigration application was previously filed but had not been adjudicated at the time of the death, the widow or widower will be able to automatically transfer the application into a widow/widower visa application.

General Survivors’ Rights

The new law also permits individuals to apply for permanent residency if petitions were filed prior to the death of the petitioner or principal immigrant if the beneficiary or derivative beneficiary resided in the U.S. at the time of the death sponsor’s death and the individuals continue to reside in the U.S. Thus, if you are the child of an individual who filed or was the primary beneficiary of a family based or employment based petition, the law may allow you to file for permanent residency. The law includes you if you are:

  • Immediate relatives
  • Family-Based Preference Beneficiaries
  • Employment-based dependents
  • Refugees and Asylees
  • Nonimmigrants in T or U status.

Widow(er) of a U.S. Military Member

For surviving spouses of deceased U.S. military members who were killed in combat, there are separate immigration benefits under section 1703 of Public Law 108-136. Individuals in these categories may self-petition for “immediate relative” status on Form I-360.

Eligibility Criteria

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 he or she passed away
  • Either has 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

Filing Fee: $405.