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DHS Establishes Interim Relief for Widows of U.S. Citizens


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted deferred action for two years to widows and widowers of U.S. citizens, and their unmarried children under 21 years old, who reside in the U.S. and were married for less than two years before their spouse’s death.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will suspend adjudication of visa petitions and adjustment applications filed for widow(er)s where the sole reason for reassessment of immigration status was the death of a U.S. citizen spouse before the second anniversary of the marriage. Additionally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will defer initiating or continuing removal proceedings, or executing final orders of removal against qualified widow(er)s and their eligible children.

USCIS will also consider favorably requests for humanitarian reinstatement where previously approved petitions for widow(er)s had been revoked because of the law. DHS said it will soon issue guidance on how to apply for this relief.

While the directive provides a short-term arrangement for widow(er)s of deceased U.S. citizens, the agency noted that legislation is required to amend the definition of “immediate relative” in the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit surviving spouses to remain indefinitely after the U.S. citizen spouse dies, enabling them to seek permanent resident status.

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Ivener & Fullmer LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.

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