Posts Tagged ‘green card’

October 28 is Deadline for Certain Widow(er)s to File for Green Card

Friday, October 21st, 2011

A foreign national widow or widower who was married to an American citizen for less than two years prior to October 28, 2009 is eligible to file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant; however, the deadline for that filing is October 28, 2011.  Widow(er)s with pending  I-130s, Petitions for Alien Relative, filed prior to the death of the spouse will automatically have their cases converted to an I-360 petition.

On October 28, 2009 a new law was enacted that eliminated the requirement that widow(er)s of U.S. citizens to be married for at least two years before becoming eligible to file an I-360. (Immigrants who were married for more than two years are governed by other provisions.) Under the 2009 provisions, a surviving spouse who was married a U.S. citizen for less than two years at any time in the past and who has not remarried can apply for his or her green card but may have to do so during the law’s transitional period, October 28, 2009 to October 28, 2011. In other words, if widow(er)’s spouse passed away prior to October 28, 2009, he or she is still eligible to apply for immigration benefits but is required to file by October 29, 2011. If the U.S. citizen spouse passed away on or after October 28, 2009, the I-360 must be filed within two years of the U.S. citizen’s death. USCIS advises that if a case was denied prior to October 28, 2009 based on evidence of less than two years of marriage, it may be considered a pending case.

Please contact our office if you believe your case would apply or seek related advice.

USCIS Ombudsman Recommends Transparency and Uniformity in I-601 Waiver Application Adjudication Process

Friday, July 16th, 2010

For many individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States, and for others who are already here but want to apply for a green card, oftentimes grounds of inadmissibility stand in their way.  There are dozens of grounds of inadmissibility based on criminal, health, immigration, or security violations that can render a foreign national ineligible from entering the U.S., adjusting status, and obtaining citizenship. Certain foreign nationals are, however, eligible to apply for and obtain waivers of these grounds.  Waivers of inadmissibility are one of the few means of relief available to such individuals, but many applicants are reluctant to file them because of the high risks involved and the length of time it takes for a decision.

In a June 9th report, the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office proposed a new set of rules to revamp how the government adjudicates and decides these waivers. In reviewing the process, the Ombudsman found a number of problems, including the lack of access to case processing information, hugely disparate processing times – ranging from three days to more than a year—and discrepancies in interpretation of the “extreme hardship” standard.  Its recommendations for improving transparency and consistency in the adjudication process include: (1) centralize processing all I-601 applications into one office; (2) provide for the concurrent filling of I-601 applications together with I-130, Petitions for Alien Relative; (3) prioritize the finalization of the overseas case management system in order to allow for posting processing times and tracking; (4) publish clear filing instructions for expedited processing; (5) improve coordination between consular officers and USCIS adjudicators; and (6) permit USCIS employees to request and obtain digitized files upon receipt of interview schedules.

Waivers of inadmissibility remain an avenue of last resort for many foreign nationals including those married to U.S. citizens. We commend the Ombudsman’s Office for reviewing this important form of relief, and encourage USCIS to implement these recommendations as soon as possible.