Green Cards for Foreign Widows of American Citizens?

by admin on October 22, 2009

For a few hundred foreign spouses of deceased American citizens, their chances of getting US green cards were next to none.  Due to a 71 year old federal law, a couple must be married for at least two years in order for a foreign spouse to be able to gain US legal residency status after their American citizen spouse had died. 

On Tuesday 21 October, however, Congress passed a bill removing the two year marriage requirement, which will allow widows and widowers to apply for a US green card for both themselves as well as for their children born abroad. 

The provision is part of a Homeland Security Appropriations bill that will now head to the White House for review. 

The two year marriage requirement has several implications.  One of the most overlooked is that married couples seeking a US K3 visa may be eligible for immediate adjustment of status to permanent residence based on a two year marriage.  Many persons mistakenly assume that the two year period begins running upon arrival in the US.  In actuality, the two year period runs from the date of the marriage. 

Hundreds of foreign spouses are believed to be facing deportation under this “widow penalty”, and thousands are believed to have been deported in the past. 

See US K3 Marriage Visas Thailand and US Adjustment of Status Thailand for more information

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