Can a Foreigner Obtain U.S. Citizenship After their U.S. Citizen Spouse Passed Away

There have been instances where foreigners have travelled to the U.S. and married a U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for five or more years with their U.S. citizen spouse, but unfortunately their U.S. citizen spouse passed away. The foreign spouse will likely want to pursue naturalization thereafter. Are there any exceptions to obtaining U.S. citizenship after an American spouse dies?

General Answer to the Question

Regrettably, there is a section of the U.S. immigration law that permits a permanent (or conditional) resident that is married to, as well as living with, a U.S. citizen for as long as five years before he or she can apply for U.S citizenship at the end of that time is no longer applicable if the U.S. citizen passes away. (See the Immigration and Nationality Act at I.N.A. Section 319(a) or 8 U.S.C. Section 1430(a)).

Although the I.N.A. does not say this, it is referenced in the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR 319.1(b)(2)(i).), which states: a person is not eligible for U.S. citizenship under section 319(a) of the Act, before or after the filing of the Naturalization application; the marital union ceases to exist based on death or divorce, or the citizen spouse has moved out of country and has established a life overseas. Therefore, the foreigner will need to wait the full period stipulated to most applicants before they can file their N-400 application for naturalization. Ask an expert legal representative for recommendations on eligibility for U.S. Citizenship.

As a matter of fact, even if you had already submitted your Naturalization application before your U.S. spouse died, you might not be allowed to proceed with the oath ceremony if you were dependent on citizenship through your American spouse. This is expressed by the C.F.R., which says "before or after the filing of the application." It has also even been clarified in a policy manual published by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which declares, “An applicant is ineligible to naturalize as the spouse of a U.S. citizen if the U.S. citizen dies any time prior to the applicant taking the Oath of Allegiance.”

Consult with An Experienced Immigration Lawyer

If you find yourself in a situation like this do not delay in calling your nearest immigration attorney. Contact Gambacorta Law Office today at 847 433 9303 to further discuss your options for U.S. citizenship.