The death of a spouse is always a wrenching experience, particularly when it throws a non-citizen’s pre-existing immigration plans into question. New Jersey residents who have gone through precisely this type of situation can attest to the fact that while there are a number of bureaucratic steps required, it is indeed possible for the surviving widow or widower to obtain a Green Card.
Securing a Green Card after citizen spouse’s death
The exact manner in which the surviving non-citizen spouse of a deceased citizen may obtain a Green Card depends in large part on his or her status at the time of the partner’s death. If no steps toward securing the document were started prior to that event, the widow or widower can seek a Green Card, but will need to initiate the process of demonstrating legal marriage to the late U.S. citizen and establish that it was a good faith marriage not made solely for the purpose of immigration.
Paperwork requirements for those seeking a Green Card following the death of a citizen spouse will turn on whether an application was already in process at the time of passing, and general eligibility criteria to keep in mind include:
- Valid marriage at time of citizen’s death
- No remarriage since citizen’s death
- No divorce or legal separation at time of spouse’s death
- Proof of legitimate marriage at time of spouse’s death
- General admissibility to U.S.
Those struggling with the recent death of a spouse who are also concerned about their own immigration status should also know that their unmarried minor children may also be folded into the Green Card petition, a fact which may offer real comfort at a time of distress.
By heeding all applicable regulations and proving compliance with all eligibility requirements, it is still possible for the bereaved spouses of recently deceased American citizens to fulfill the immigration plans that may have assumed were lost forever.