22 October 2009

Congress passes law allowing widows to move from American visa to residency

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The US Congress has given the final approval to legislation that allows widows and widowers of US citizens to move from American visas to permanent resident.

The so called “widow’s penalty”, a legal provision for the automatic deportation of widows and widowers of US citizens, was highlighted by the story of a Japanese widow and the baby of a marine killed in Iraq.

Hotaru Ferschke and Sargent Michael H. Ferschke were married by phone during his deployment to Iraq, and Mr Ferschke died a month later. The pair have a child together, but Mrs Ferschke and baby Michael H Ferschke Junior faced being returned to Japan because the law did not recognise their standing to move from an American visa to residency.

Congress gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation that would effectively abolish this provision, and the measure is part of a bigger Homeland Security bill that President Barack Obama is expected to sign.

The new law would allow widows and widowers to submit petitions seeking American permanent residency.

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