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Survivor Benefits for Relatives of U.S. Citizen Military Members

If you are the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen who died as a result of combat while serving in active duty status in the U.S. armed forces, you may be eligible for immigration benefits as an “immediate relative” for up to 2 years after your service member relative’s death.

Additionally, a surviving spouse, child, or parent of such service members may be eligible for naturalization as the surviving relative of the service member under Section 319(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Family Petitions or Adjustment of Status

If You are the Spouse of a Deceased Service Member

You will be considered an immediate relative for immigration purposes provided:

  • Your service member spouse served honorably in active-duty status in the U.S. armed forces
  • Your service member spouse died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat
  • You were not legally separated from your service member spouse at the time of his or her death
  • You file a petition for an immigration benefit (Form I-360) within two years of your service member spouse’s death
  • You do not remarry prior to obtaining permanent residence based on your relationship to your U.S. Citizen spouse.

Note: When filing the Form I-360, it is important to check box M in Part 2 of the form and write “Public Law 108-136.”

If You are the Child or Parent of a Deceased Service Member

You will be considered an immediate relative for immigration purposes provided:

  • Your service member relative served honorably in active-duty status in the U.S. armed forces
  • Your service member relative died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat
  • You file a petition for an immigration benefit (Form I-360) within 2 years of your service member relative’s death. 

Note: When filing the Form I-360, it is important to check box M in Part 2 of the form and write “Public Law 108-136.” 

Citizenship for Surviving Spouse, Child, or Parent  

The spouse, child, or parent of a deceased U.S. citizen member of the U.S. armed forces (service member) who died as the result of his or her honorable service, including a service member granted posthumous citizenship, and who, in the case of a surviving spouse, was living in marital union with the citizen service member spouse at the time of his or her death, may be eligible for naturalization as the surviving relative of the service member under Section 319(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

The surviving spouse, child, or parent must meet the general naturalization requirements, except for the residence or physical presence requirements in the United States (It is important to check box D of Part 2 of Form N-400 and write “Section 319(d) of the INA” in the space provided.) 

Note: If you were the spouse of the deceased service member, you must not have been legally separated at the time of his or her death.  However, you remain eligible for naturalization under this provision even if you have remarried since the service member’s death.

For more information on the general requirements for naturalization, see the “Citizenship” link to the left.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/03/2009
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