Surviving Spouse Green Card Applications After the Death of the U.S. Citizen Spouse
Occasionally, a US citizen spouse will die before, or during the process of their foreign spouse’s green card application. In such cases, it may be possible for the surviving spouse to complete the green card application process as a widower. To be eligible to apply for a green card as a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse must be admissible to the United States; must not be remarried; and must not have been divorced or legally separated from the US citizen spouse at the time of their death.
If the US citizen spouse filed a Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of the surviving spouse, prior to their death, then the Petition will automatically be converted to a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. The surviving spouse need not file a new petition. If the surviving spouse has also already filed for their green card, then they do not need to file a new one. If they have not already filed the green card application, and they are within the United States, they will need to file the green card application. If, instead, the surviving spouse lives abroad, then they should wait for the approval of their converted petition, which will be forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad for consular processing after approval.
If the US citizen spouse did not file a Petition for the surviving spouse prior to their death, the surviving spouse must a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant no more than two years after their spouse’s death. The surviving spouse will also need to file a green card application if they are within the United States, or await the approval of their converted petition and consular processing abroad.
If you are interested in learning more about completing the green card application process as a surviving spouse, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.