Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: What happens to a family immigration petition if the petitioner (also known as the sponsor of the application) suddenly dies? Sadly, this situation comes up more often than we would like to admit. In this circumstance it is important to know what you can expect if the sponsor of your petition has died, and your options to legalize your status.
Keep on watching to find out more!
In the past, when a petitioner died while a petition remained pending, the petition could not be approved. Thankfully in 2009, Congress passed legislation known as the Family Sponsor Immigration Act to help applicants in this exact scenario creating a new statutory provision under the Immigration and Nationality Act known as 204(l). This provision in the law gives noncitizens the ability to seek an immigration benefit through a deceased qualifying relative under certain circumstances.
Specifically, the Family Sponsor Immigration Act, provides relief for spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, unmarried sons and daughters of citizens, spouses and unmarried sons and daughter of green card holders, married sons and daughters of citizens, and brothers and sisters of citizens, in cases where the original petitioner has died. Such individuals may seek reinstatement of their immigrant petition based on humanitarian grounds if they meet the below mentioned conditions:
- your Form I-130 has already been approved by USCIS
- you were living in the United States at the time the petitioner died and continue to reside there on the date USCIS makes a decision on your application, and
- you find someone eligible and willing to act as your financial sponsor in place of your original petitioner (a substitute sponsor, as described below).
What if I lived overseas when my petitioner died?
If you lived overseas when your petitioner died you will not be able to continue with your application, however you can apply for humanitarian reinstatement with USCIS. You must seek the guidance of an experienced attorney in this area of the law as these matters can become complicated quickly.