Question: My husband died years ago (right in the middle of our petition.) After 2 years, I found out that I could have filed the Widow Petition but did not. Is there anything I can do at this time?
Answer: Yes, on October 20, 2009, the Senate voted to pass the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Conference Report that contained a provision to end the widow penalties. The House previously voted to pass the bill. The bill became Public Law Number 111-83 upon President Obama’s signature on October 28, 2009.
Question: What is in the bill?
Answer: The bill contains two measures to address survivors’ issues: 1) self-petitioning rights for all widow(er)s of American citizens and their children; and 2) certain survivors’ rights for other immigrants. If the widow(er) is outside the United States, they can apply for an immigrant visa following the I-360 approval. Current regulations already allow such auto-conversion for self-petitions.
Question: Does the law require me to obtain an Affidavit of Support Sponsor?
Answer: No. The law allows the widow(er) to self-petition, which removes the requirement that another person file an affidavit of support on behalf of the immigrant. Widow(er)s must still prove they are not likely to become a public charge, based on a totality of factors.
Question: Does the law allow my children to be included?
Answer: Yes. The Child Citizenship Protection Act (CSPA) may apply.
Question: Can I receive benefits if I have remarried?
Answer: While the self-petition provision in the new law specifically requires that the widow(er) not have remarried, the provision dealing with “Surviving Relative Consideration” does not.
Question: Are there deadlines?
Answer: Yes. The deadline is October 28, 2011. This new law does not change that deadline.