Deadline Approaches for Widow(er) of Deceased U.S. Citizens

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October 28, 2011,Deadline Approaches for Widow(er) of Deceased U.S. Citizens Whose Spouses Died before October 28, 2009 to Apply For Immigration

On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed into law new provisions which allow widows or widowers of U.S. Citizens to apply for immigration even if they were married for less than two years.  However, the deadline for these petitions if the spouse died before October 28, 2009 expires on October 28, 2011.  Prior to October 28, 2009, the widow(er) had to have been married to their U.S. citizen spouse for at least two (2) years.

Changes in the Law Broadened the Number of Eligible Widows and Widowers

Petitions normally must be filed within two (2) years after the citizen-spouse’s death.  However, when President Obama broadened the persons eligible to include those who were married for less than two years, the law also afforded two years from the date of enactment for persons who then qualified under the new provisions.  In other words, if an applicant’s spouse died more than two years ago the application deadline is October 28, 2011.

Requirements for Widow(er) Special Immigrant Classification

Applicants whose spouses died before October 28, 2009, and who were married for less than two years, must file Form I-360 in which they attest that (a) they were married to a U.S. Citizen for less than two years, (b) who died before October 28, 2009, (c) the parties were not legally separated or divorced, and (d) the applicant has not remarried in the meantime.  Applicants also will need to supply a copy of the marriage certificate, proof of their spouse’s U.S. citizenship, and a copy of their spouses’ death certificate.  The application also requires a fee in the amount of $405.

A Widow(er) Whose Spouse Dies After October 28, 2009 Must File Within Two Years After Their Spouse’s Death.

With regard to any person whose spouse died after October 28, 2009 – whether they were married for more or less than two years – such widow(er) must still apply within two years of their spouse’s death.  In other words, the special cut-off date applies only to cases where the U.S. citizen’s spouse passed away before October 28, 2009.


Failure to file the proper form(s), include the necessary information and documentation, or pay the required fee(s) will result in rejection of you application.  As a result, and because the instructions can be confusing, it can be helpful to retain legal counsel experienced in handling immigration applications.

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    Marc A Wites
    Marc A. Wites is the founding shareholder of Wites & Rogers. He directs the firm’s litigation practice groups for personal injury and wrongful death cases, class actions, property insurance claims, sexual assault, and investment fraud.

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