Bob is a US citizen married to Lily a non-US resident. They live together in Europe with their US citizen daughter (born abroad). If Bob was to pass away, would his wife Lily be eligible to live in the US with their minor daughter?

2 Answers 2


If Bob were to pass away, Lily can self-petition to immigrate to the US as a widow(er) of a US citizen within 2 years of Bob's death. (If Bob had filed a petition for Lily before his death, but she had not immigrated yet, it would automatically convert to a widow(er) petition; if no petition had been filed yet, then she has to file a new petition within 2 years of his death.)

If she misses the 2 years, then she can no longer has any path to immigrate to the US through Bob; she could see if her daughter will petition her when the daughter turns 21.


No. He would have to sponsor her green card before passing away. He can do this now even if they are not currently residing in the U.S. Otherwise she will not have any special entitlement to reside in the U.S. with their daughter until the daughter is able to sponsor the parent upon reaching the age of 21.

  • Filing a sponsorship application wouldn't be sufficient, would it? Wouldn't the wife also need to immigrate to the US before the husband dies?
    – phoog
    Jun 10, 2017 at 16:17
  • 1
    Not unless the rules have changed (which they might have). My wife was able to get a green card despite us not living in the U.S. We explained that we had plans to move (which at the time, we did). We never made that move, and she held that green card for two years before finally relinquishing it. I think it depends on your intentions. If I remember correctly, once you are approved, you have to enter the country within a certain time period, and must reside in the country atleast six months of the year afterwords.
    – ouflak
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:03
  • Right, but for the purpose of immigration law, entering the country within a certain time period after the approval of the immigrant visa constitutes immigrating, and residing in the country at least six months of the year constitutes maintaining residence there. Regardless of the label applied to these requirements, however, they are certainly additional requirements beyond simply "sponsoring her green card before passing away."
    – phoog
    Jun 10, 2017 at 19:17
  • I'm assuming the OP's intention are to actually move permanently to the United States. Obviously if that is not the OP's intention, then my answer is not relevant. Also, I do believe that the immigration officers will have to be convinced of the OP's intentions. For my wife's that wasn't so difficult as I was worked for a U.S. employer. The OP's circumstances may not support her application.
    – ouflak
    Jun 10, 2017 at 21:09
  • I on the other hand assume that the couple plan to move the child to the US at some point in the future and are concerned about the effect on those plans of the US citizen parent's death.
    – phoog
    Jun 10, 2017 at 23:42

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