Congress Ends the Widow Penalty

Posted on October 21st, 2009, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. Comments Off on Congress Ends the Widow Penalty

Today, the U.S. Senate voted to end what is commonly referred to as the “widow penalty.” Under this penalty, if a U.S. Citizen spouse died before being married to his/her spouse for 2 years, any pending green card application for the non-U.S. Citizen would no longer be considered by USCIS. The most dire consequence of such a harsh rule is that it often led to deportation proceedings for the non-U.S. Citizen.

The Senate’s action, which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama, will allow the foreign national to file a self-petition for the green card within 2 years of the spouse’s death, as long as the individual has not remarried and can prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith. In addition, the law is retroactive and allows any foreign national whose U.S. Citizen spouse died less than two years after the marriage to self-petition, no matter how long ago the spouse died.

The law firm of Livesay & Myers, P.C. handles a large number of marriage-based green card cases. If you think you may benefit from the Senate’s action today, contact us to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer. Our immigration attorneys represent clients throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

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Jennifer S. Varughese is the lead immigration attorney at Livesay & Myers, P.C. Her immigration law practice covers both family-based and employment-based green cards, temporary visas, adjustment of status for those already present in the country, citizenship, and deportation cases. Ms. Varughese has been recognized for her work in the area of the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

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