I-360 Widow’s Visa to the USA for the Filipina Widow

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Special visa available to foreign widows of U.S. citizens. Many foreigners who marry Filipinas to not take them to their home countries to become citizens there.  There are a variety of reasons.  Many have been through costly and painful divorces and they want to remove any possibility of their new wife divorcing them.  There is no divorce in the Philippines.

When the foreigner living in the Philippines with his Filipina wife dies, what happens to the wife and kids?  In too many cases there is little saving, pensions may stop and the wife and kids may end up destitute.

That’s why there are big advantages to the Filipina of becoming a US or European citizen.  When the husband passes away the Filipina has a US or European citizenship and passport.  She and any children can relocate overseas and find employment or receive government benefits.  Even if the widow remains in the Philippines, as a US citizen she can receive US Social Security Survivor’s benefits, immediately if the couple has children, or when she turns 60.  Details at http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/links_survivor.htm The rules can be quite complicated.  You can call the Social Security Services section at the US Embassy in Manila at: (63) (2) 301-2000

There is one too little-known alternative for Filipina widows who were married to US Citizens, the I-360 Widow/Widower immigrant visa.  The widow or widower can self-apply to immigrate to the US after her husband’s death.  Of course their children are already US citizens, if their birth has been registered with the US Embassy in Manila.  The widow will need enough money to survive during the I-360 application process, to pay the application fees ($455.00 as of 10-08), to travel to the US Embassy in Manila for interviews and finally to travel to and get settled in the US. This will amount to several thousands of dollars. For more information, go to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Click on the “immigration forms” tab, scroll down to the I-360 line and download the form and instructions.

The widow or widower may self-file this petition if:

  • You were married for at least two years to a U.S. citizen who is now deceased and who was a U.S. citizen at the time of death;
  • Your citizen spouse’s death was less than two years ago – SO DON’T DELAY;
  • You were not legally separated from your citizen spouse at the time of death; and
  • You have not remarried.

The I-360 petition must be filed with:

  • copy of your marriage certificate to the U.S. citizen and proof of termination of any prior marriages of either of you;
  • Copies of evidence that your spouse was a U.S. citizen, such as a birth certificate if born in the United States, Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship issued by USCIS; Form FS-240, Report of Birth Abroad of Citizen of the United States; or a U.S. passport which was valid at the time of the citizen’s death; and
  • copy of the death certificate of your U.S. citizen spouse.

Unmarried minor children may be included on the same I-360 petition.

Special note to previous married widows: self-petitioning widows of US citizens may be denied visas if it is discovered that there was a prior marriage. When an individual marries more than once, the party applying for immigration benefit must show evidence of the termination of the first marriage as well as the existence and validity of the second marriage. The person seeking the immigration benefit of a marriage has the burden of establishing the validity of the second marriage. Proving that the prior marriage is terminated may either be through court documents granting annulment or dissolution of the marriage. The USCIS generally recognizes annulment granted in a foreign country such as in the Philippines, as a matter of comity, as long as that particular court had jurisdiction to grant the annulment.

The following was posted my Ron McCarthy of the excellent Mag-Anak Yahoo Group: “There have been circumstances where these (I-360) visas have been denied. Needless to say, many lawsuits have been filed against the USCIS regarding this matter. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (which has appellate authority over California, Nevada, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington) was the first circuit court to address this issue. In its precedential case of Freeman v. Gonzalez decided in 2006, the Ninth Circuit held that alien spouses remain immediate relative spouse for the purpose of the immigration law, and that the death of their US citizen spouses prior to the second wedding anniversary does not strip them of the opportunity to obtain permanent residence in the United States.”

——

I have prepared a guidebook for my wife on the steps she should take should I predecease her.  These include:

  • Contact our US attorney
  • Inform American Citizen Services at the US Embassy in Manila
  • Get several copies of my official death certificate. May also need a Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad
  • Notify Social Security Administration of my death.
  • My wishes regarding disposal of my remains.
  • Various instructions on how to handle financial affairs.
  • If your wife qualifies for an I-360, be sure she has a copy of your marriage certificate, divorce papers from any of your prior marriages and knows where to find your US Passport.  It’s much easier for you to obtain such documentation while you are alive than it will be for your widow after you die.

Sorry if this is not so helpful to non-Americans.  I am not knowledgeable about the situation for other nationalities.  If you can add more information, please leave a comment below.

Comments (25) Write a comment

  1. Oh my. My heart goes out to all Filipina widows, both for the loss of their loved ones, and all the financial complications afterward. Bless you for writing these details that could well help women over this bumpy road.

    Reply

  2. Sir Bob and maam Carol,,Married to a u.s citizen for 4 years..my husband spent hundreds of thousands for his hospitalization,doctors fee and his medicines..is there any reinbursement for this matter? Then died last august 1,2016..I am a government employee..I want to apply for my immigrant visa.. How and to whom I will get help….? Thank you and God bless…

    Reply

    • We are sorry to hear of your loss. I know of no reimbursement except possibly deductions on his final tax return. You will have to contact a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Don’t delay. Your right to apply for a “Widow’s Visa” will expire.

      Reply

      • Thank you sir Bob and ma’am Carol for the advice.. Hope my wish in going to u.s be granted… God bless both of you sir and ma’am…

        Reply

  3. Bob & Carol,
    Recently my brother married his long time girlfriend of 4 yrs from Ohio, after the release of his nullification from his previous marriage last February only. They waited for so long ’til my sister-in-law got sick of cancer. They wed and a week later she died in the hospital.
    Can my brother file as a widower? where? and how?

    Reply

    • Dean,

      What a tragic story! Really it’s best to get the answers from a U.S. Consular or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official.

      Bob

      Reply

  4. Hi and South African but I cannot find any available resources like this website pertaining to South Africa. I am sure you can shed some common light on my situation, please 🙂

    I am in the process of collating all my supporting documents and the application fee for my permanent residency application, here in South Africa. I understand this needs to be done within 2 years of my USA spouse passing away, which will be December this year.

    After doing a lot of research I was made aware of 2 things:

    1) if I am granted my PR, I would need to be in the USA within 6 months. Is this true?
    2) I would have to move to the USA almost immediately thereafter in order to maintain residency status.

    The problem I face is that I will not be ready to move to the USA for another 3 years. I would apply at a later date when I am ready to move, but I only have till December. The reasons I need to remain in South Africa for another 3 years (approx) are:

    – I am currently suing a hospital for medical negligence in the way they handled my husband on the night he died. This case could take at least 3 years to finalize. If and when I get reimbursed after this case is wrapped up, I intend to use the money to buy a property (cash offer) in Ohio.

    – I started a new job this year and I need to finalize matters with them. I am in the process of helping them set up a business throughout Africa.

    – I have elderly parents (both 70 years old). My father had a 6-way heart bypass a few years back and my mom had two hip replacements. I would need to see to them and ensure they are taken care of before I leave. I spend a lot of time taking care or them.

    I assure you, I WANT to reside in the USA and I am constantly researching, looking at schools, etc. I have all ready made contact with several real estate agents and banks regarding the future purchase of a home. My daughter is a citizen and I want her to attend school in Ohio, not in South Africa. Her fathers family and friends are there too. Our future is there, not here. Timing is just not working out well for us.

    Please can you look into my case and advise if there is anything I can do to preserve my residency once it is granted? Perhaps allowing more time for the application, or extending the time I have to move there? Is there perhaps a permit that allows me extended time out of the USA?

    Please help.

    Thank you
    Candice Nettle

    Reply

    • We wish we could be of more help, but we can only advise you to seek answers from U.S. consular officials in South Africa. Best wishes. Bob and Carol

      Reply

  5. when a Filipino u.s pensioner is having an affair with other man before and after her husband death and have a children to the other man right after her husband die is there any chance that there eldest child can manage the benifets from there father?

    Reply

    • This is a quite complicated question. Is the wife residing in the Philippines or the U.S.? Is she a U.S. citizen or did she reside in the U.S. for at least five years? Generally the legal spouse will receive the benefits upon the death of his or her spouse. The Social Security Administration does not evaluate the behavior of spouses.

      Reply

  6. I’m a widower of an Amwerican citizen and my husband died in June 2014. I am only now learning about the I -360 visa.. My 2 years expired already ..No one informed me when I report his death at the US embassy.. Is there anything that you can do to help me… 1-360 visa..

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  7. Can i file i-360 petition even if my husband is only a Lawful Resident not a US citizen by the time of his death?

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  8. i will have my visa interview on Feb. 12 what are frequently ask by the consul during the interview?hope to give me any idea. Thanks

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  9. I am a Filipina a US widow for 4yrs now. We have a 5yr old son, a US passport holder and receiving SS benefit. I never been to US, we married in So. Korea. I did no know there is this I-360 widow’s visa. Now, I want my boy to be educated in US. How can I get there to start with..and what visa do I need? Thank you.God bless.

    Reply

  10. Bob and Carol,
    yeah,in addition of your blog,those Philippine citizen they need to prove to the US they can afford to support themselves when they come in US,or they can ask a co sponsor from US relative of the husband or wife who based in united states.a lot of hardship for the spouse if they never been to US,even though your married in Philippines still you need to migrate here for at least 2 years..not only the SS if the husband or your wife has some assets here you cant claim any of those..they always asked SSN here.you knew it.before i don’t want to come, I realized my hubby was right. was trying to protect me in the future.

    Reply

    • Gie,

      All good points. The I-360 “Window’s Visa” is no panacea. It works best for a widow with some skills and financial resources. Still, it is a very important option for the Filipina who is not an American citizen. Carol and I stayed in the U.S. until she got her citizenship. At the time, I was not aware of the I-360 process. For some American retirees, staying in the U.S. with their Filipina wife for the four or five years necessary to obtain citizenship is a financial and existential hardship. As a practical matter, the I-360 could be nearly as good as citizenship for some couples, as long as the non-citizen wife was left with the education and financial resources to take advantage of the I-360. Is it possible that it would be better for the Filipina (and her retired husband) to stay in the Philippines and go to college to obtain skills which could prove valuable when she goes to the U.S.? Every couple will have to evaluate their own situation and the plusses and minuses. Thanks for raising this point!

      Bob

      Reply

  11. Why would an American care that the phillippines has no divorce? There is no divorce in the USA also.

    Reply

    • Divorce is highly available in every U.S. state. As we noted, many foreigners who marry Filipinas have previously been involved in a divorce in their home country, often financially painful divorces. They don’t want and possibly can’t afford another divorce. In the Philippines their wife can’t divorce them.

      Reply

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  13. Mike,

    If you are not a member of the Mag-Anak Yahoo group, I suggest you join and post your inquiry there. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MAG-ANAK/

    There are over 3000 members, many of whom have been through divorces. You don’t mention if you were married in the US or in the Philippines and whether your wife is a U.S. citizen. If she’s a U.S. citizen, I’m sure she could go there and file for divorce. Depending on which state she goes to, she may have to meet a residency requirement. It’s hard to imagine a Filipina married to an American who does not have friends or relatives who would help her.

    Have you considered filing for divorce in another jurisdiction? Anyway, sorry things did not work out for the two of you.

    Reply

  14. Hi Bob.

    I just read your paragraphs on the I360 Widow’s visa. You mentioned the instance where the foreign spouse (husband, most likely) has been through a costly USA-divorce from his USA-citizen wife in previous years. In a “long term marriage” in the USA this may have involved 50% of his assets that he owned prior to entering the marriage contract.

    Is there any person or website that I can consult regarding the legal issues involved where a married USA/Philippino couple living in the Philippines separate? Specifically, can the Philippino spouse drag the USA spouse through a USA court in an attempt to take capitol assets or cash? Assume that the Philippino spouse has secluded away enough cash over the years to fund her solo trip to the USA and to hire a hungry lawyer … and perhaps she has relatives in the USA who will house her and help her in her quest.

    Note that the Philippine Consulate’s website has a service called “solemnization of marriage” where the Phil wife registers her marriage in the USA.

    Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

    Reply

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