I-360 Widow Petition: Guidance for Surviving Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Finally some good news coming from USCIS. The Immigration Service today issued guidance on requesting deferred action for surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who died before the second anniversary of their marriage. Surviving spouses qualify for this temporary program if they were married to, but not legally separated from, their U.S. citizen spouse at the time of that spouse’s death; did not remarry; and are currently residing in the United States. Until this Memo there has been a lot of confusion in this area of law.

Until there is a legislative solution to remedy the situation commonly referred to as the “widow penalty,” USCIS is providing interim administrative relief in the form of deferred action to surviving spouses whose U.S. citizen spouses died before the second anniversary of their marriage. The “widow penalty” prevents widow(er)s of deceased U.S. citizens, who were married less than two years at the time of the U.S. citizen’s death, from becoming permanent residents based on the marriage. Under this action USCIS also will consider favorably requests for humanitarian reinstatement where previously approved petitions for widow(er)s had been revoked because of the law.

Surviving spouses qualify for deferred action regardless of whether the U.S. citizen spouse filed a Form I- 130 petition for them. Surviving spouses may ask to have their qualifying children included in their deferred action request. To be considered a “qualifying child” of a surviving spouse, the child must be younger than age 21 or otherwise qualify as a child when the deferred action request is submitted; currently reside in the United States; and be unmarried. Surviving spouses who apply for deferred action will need to file Form I-360 with supporting documentation and the $375 filing fee with the Vermont Service Center. Work authorization will be available to surviving spouses and qualifying children who are granted deferred action and who can establish economic necessity.

We welcome this temporary program, as many spouses of US Citizens who passed away, were left in the cold with respect to their immigration status after the death of their loved one, who was the US petitioner.

Read the entire FAQ here Download file