which is usually very helpful when it comes to filling out and submitting the mandatory paperwork (one misstep and you could be sent back to the beginning of the process).
But what happens if you’re married to a U.S. citizen and you haven’t yet qualified for permanent residency?
The Immigration and Nationality Act
Before 2009, a non-citizen had to be married to a U.S. citizen for two full years before he or she could qualify for permanent resident status. However, the president signed the FY2010 DHS Appropriations Act into law in 2009, which amended the Immigration and Nationality Act and got rid of the two-year requirement. That means if your U.S. citizen spouse passed away before you were married for two years, you can still qualify for permanent residency.
If you qualify, your unmarried minor children also qualify. It doesn’t matter whether you’re living here, in the U.S., or if you’re living abroad – the law applies to you because you were married to a U.S. citizen.
What You Still Need to Do
Even if you qualify as an immediate family member as a widow or widower, you’ll still need to prove that:
- You were the U.S. citizen’s legal spouse
- You didn’t only get married to get immigration benefits
Your immigration attorney will walk you through the entire process, ensuring that you’re taking the right steps and that all of your paperwork is filed with the appropriate authorities.