Survivor Benefits Deadline of October 28, 2011 Approaches for Some Widows and Widowers of U.S. Citizens
This update concerns an approaching deadline for certain eligible widows and widowers of U.S. citizens to file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (PDF, 12 pages - 230 KB), (I-360 petition), if seeking immigration benefits on the basis of their marriage to the deceased.
On October 28, 2009, Congress amended the law governing immigration benefits for widows and widowers of U.S. citizens. The previous law required a widow(er) to be married to the U.S. citizen spouse for two years before being eligible to seek survivor benefits in the event of the citizen spouse's death.
The new law eliminates this two-year requirement, allowing the surviving spouse to apply for lawful permanent residence even if married for less than two years prior to the spouse's death and regardless of whether the spouse had ever filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (I-130 petition).
Deadlines for Filing
This update is intended to bring attention to deadlines for those who may be affected. USCIS provides information for your review on the various factors involved with eligibility for Widow(er)s and unmarried minor children of deceased U.S. Citizens. Additional guidance is also available in the December 12, 2009 USCIS memo (PDF, 11 pages - 627 KB) that implemented these changes for surviving spouses of U.S. citizens.