Immigration Update: “Widow’s Penalty”

Posted on

IPU continues to be dedicated to improving the immigration outcome for spouses of deceased United States citizens. Currently, the USCIS denies adjustment of status to aliens whose spouses have died before the couple’s second anniversary. This law is known as the “Widow’s Penalty” because the beneficiaries of these immigration petitions will not be able to obtain permanent residence even though they were married to United States citizens.

In response to this injustice, NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit and Immigrant Protection Unit filed a lawsuit against USCIS. The lawsuit is still pending and immigrant advocates remain hopeful that USCIS will be forced to revise this law. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced on June 9th, that CIS will be suspending the adjudication of these individuals’ applications and granting them deferred action status. This will allow widows and widowers to obtain employment authorization and reside in the United States without fear of deportation for the next two years. Although this falls short of the law change needed, IPU is grateful that USCIS and DHS are taking steps to lessen the suffering of immigrant families while this law is being revised.