Congress passes rare bill to allow Marine widow’s immigration

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — The House of Representatives, on Dec. 15, passed a private immigration bill that will pave the way for a Japanese widow of a U.S. Marine to live permanently in the United States.

The bill grants permanent resident status to the woman, who now lives in the Japanese southernmost prefecture of Okinawa. As the Senate has already approved the bill, the relief measure will come into effect after President Barack Obama signs it.

The woman and a Marine sergeant married by telephone in July 2008, while she was in Japan and he was in Iraq, but he died next month in combat in the country.

U.S. authorities did not consider their marriage valid on the grounds that the couple lived separately and did not consummate the marriage.

According to U.S. media reports, U.S. immigration law stipulates that an international marriage is not consummated until the couple actually live together and have conjugal relations to prevent fake marriages by foreigners seeking to attain permanent residency through such marriages.

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