The Widow penalty debate has been going on for years. This week the problems of widows have come to an end. The Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that would end what has become known as the “widow penalty” — the government’s practice of annulling foreigners’ applications for permanent residency when their American spouses die before the marriage is two years old.
The measure, which passed 79-19, was contained in a conference report that accompanied an appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The House of Representatives passed the conference report last week. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.
While the foreign spouse of a United States citizen may be eligible for residency under American law, the government has argued that the spouse’s death before the two-year mark ends the marriage, canceling the foreigner’s right to be considered for residency and opening the door to deportation.
The law is also retroactive; any immigrant whose citizen spouse died less than two years after they wed, no matter how long ago, would have two years from the law’s enactment to petition for residency.
Congratulations to Mr. Brent Renison, a Lawyer from Oregon who spearheaded the fight for this law to pass.