Posted on June 14, 2009 by Robert A. Kraft

On June 9, 2009, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano granted deferred action for two years to widows and widowers of U.S. citizens (and their unmarried children under 18 years old) who reside in the United States, and who were married for less than two years before their spouse’s death. Deferred action is a short-term act of prosecutorial discretion that suspends removal proceedings against an individual or group of individuals for a specific timeframe. The action is temporary and it will not resolve an individual’s underlying immigration status.   In addition to the deferred action, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will suspend all adjudications of visa petitions and adjustment applications filed by widow(er)s where the only reason for reassessment of immigration status was the death of a U.S. citizen spouse before the second anniversary of the marriage. Further, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will now defer initiating or continuing removal proceedings, or executing final orders of removal against qualified widow(er)s and their eligible children.   Secretary Napolitano states that the deferred action is a “common-sense and practical” solution that will grant “these individuals and their children an opportunity to stay in the country that has become their home while their legal status is resolved.”  

Additional information may be found at: www.dhs.gov.

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