The road to permanent residency in the United States can take some time. Federal laws allow for United States citizens who are related to foreign nationals to apply for family members to become permanent residents in this country and eventually move toward becoming U.S. citizens. Florida family immigration law attorneys know a variety of visas are available for spouses, parents, children, siblings and fiancées of U.S citizens.
Recently, the U. S. government settled with two women who were trapped in a vortex in immigration law related to their spousal visas. In 2009, Congress modified immigration law to eliminate what is known as the “widow or widower” penalty. Two women who were caught up under the “widow penalty” have finally been allowed to reenter the U.S. with legal status.
When a foreign national enters the United States on a spousal visa and the couple has been married for less than two years, the foreign national spouse enters as a conditional resident.
Prior to a change in the law in 2009, is the U.S. citizen spouse died, the government would nullify the legal status of the conditional residency. The result was known as the widow penalty, as the denied legal status could result in deportation. Congress scrapped the provision of the law allowing for the so-called widow penalty in October 29, 2009.
Although the widow penalty was scrapped two years ago by Congress, individuals who suffered under the policy before the law was changed must file a petition for residency by October 28, to preserve their rights under the law change. Some immigration professionals believe there may be hundreds of widows or widowers scattered across the globe who suffered under the widow penalty who may be unaware of their ability to petition for permanent residency.
The two cases that recently settled involved a woman of Mexican descent and a Japanese woman. Both women were married to United States citizens and progressing on their way toward permanent residency. The husband of each woman died before the individual couples were married for two years. Subsequently, the U.S government nullified their applications for permanent residency. Tomorrow, this blog will explore the two women’s stories in more detail.
Source: AP, ‘”‘Widow penalty’ victims finally allowed back in US,” David Crary 15 Jul 2011