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Are widows and widowers eligible for a green card?

The loss of your spouse can be a devastating event in your life. If you are a resident of another country and your husband or wife was a U.S. citizen, you may at least find solace that the U.S. government might allow you to immigrate to the United States as a widow or widower of an American citizen.

Keep in mind that receiving a green card from the U.S. government may not be set in stone. There are certain criteria you must meet in order to receive a green card because of your marriage to your loved one.

Having a genuine marital relationship

The USCIS explains that your qualifications for a green card depend on the fact of your marriage to a U.S. citizen at the time of the death of your spouse. This means you cannot have divorced your spouse or have been legally separated from your wife or husband.

The U.S. government is on the lookout for possible immigration fraud, so it is important to show that your marriage was authentic. Moreover, your marriage must have been for legitimate relationship purposes and not only to benefit from U.S. immigration law.

You have not remarried

It is possible you may have found love again, but be careful about entering into a new marriage if you intend to immigrate on the basis of being a widow or widower. U.S. immigration law disqualifies remarried individuals for this kind of immigration, though you may explore other options if you have remarried a U.S. citizen.

You are eligible for U.S. admission

Like any prospective immigrant, the U.S. government must consider you admissible to the United States. This means different factors like criminal activity, national security, fraud or your state of health cannot disqualify you from entering the country.

Other criteria may apply. You should have a Form I-130 pending or approved or have filed a Form I-360 no later than two years after your spouse has died. Different conditions might also apply depending on whether your spouse had filed an I-130 on your behalf. There are various ways the U.S. government may admit you depending on your circumstances.