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DHS Establishes Relief for Widows of U.S. Citizens

Finally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is making smart decisions in favor of helping immigrant families and recognizing the emotional aspect of ensuring family unity here in the United States! The Secretary of the DHS, Janet Napolitano, issued a decision on June 9, 2009, granting deferred action for two years to widows and widowers of U.S. citizens, as well as their unmarried children under 18 years old, who reside in the United States and who were married for less than two years prior to their spouse’s death. Although there is not yet any legislation amending the definition of “immediate relatives”, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Furthermore, the Secretary also confirmed that she will halt all reassessments of adjudications of immediate relative petitions and adjustment applications where the sole purpose is to issue a denial based on the death of the USC petitioner. She has also advised that DHS will not be initiating removal procedures or executing final orders of removal for the same category of individuals.

Even more encouraging is the fact that this advisory applies to both those who had a petition filed on their behalf, as well as those who never had anything filed before the death of their immediate relative.

This is wonderful news and a huge step in the direction of making sensible changes to the existing laws. It is only a matter of time until the Immigration and Nationality Act is amended to statutorily allow widows of deceased U.S. citizens to apply for permanent residence status here in the United Status.