Orange residents who are interested in family immigration issues may wish to know more about the options that a noncitizen spouse has for gaining permanent residency when they are widowed. If certain requirements are fulfilled, this may be possible to gain such status by filing the correct forms.
When a noncitizen was married to a U.S. citizen at the time that the citizen passes away, they may be eligible for permanent residency based on their marriage. In the past, there was a requirement that the marriage had to have lasted longer than two years. However, this requirement was removed in 2009.
There are still a few requirements that must be met in order for the green card application to be approved. The marriage must have been legal and in good faith. The couple could not have been married simply for gaining residency.
If these requirements are met, the next action can differ depending on the situation. If there had already been an application filed on behalf of the noncitizen spouse when their citizen spouse died, they do not have to do any additional work to seek residency status. The prior application will be converted without any further action. However, if there was no existing petition, a specific form needs to be filed to begin the process. This must be filed within the 2 years after the spouse’s death. In either case, if the couple was either separated or divorced at the time of death, they will no longer be eligible for residency based on their marriage.
Understanding the complex issues involved in family-based immigration applications can be difficult without the help of an attorney. The attorney may be useful in filing the necessary applications within the correct periods and assisting in other immigration issues.