Humanitarian Reinstatement: When a Petitioner Dies

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What will happen to my immigrant petition if the petitioner dies before I get my green card? Will I lose the petition?

Generally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could revoke the immigrant petition upon the death of the petitioner. However, For those with an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, there is a discretionary form of relief available to the principal beneficiary of a petition that was approved prior to the death of the petitioner.

Humanitarian Reinstatement
Humanitarian Reinstatement is a discretionary relief available if the beneficiary, who is required to have Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, is able to meet certain requirements. In these cases, the beneficiary has to get either one of the following and make a written request to USCIS:

Requirements for Substitute Sponsor
For those who are unable to show that they have adequate means of financial support, they must obtain a new Form I-864 from a Substitute Sponsor. The Substitute Sponsor must be:

  • A U.S. citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident;
  • At least 18 years old; and
  • Your spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sibling, child, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or legal guardian.  

Humanitarian Reinstatement Requirements
Humanitarian reinstatement is a discretionary benefit. This means that the reviewing immigration officer will need to weigh positive factors against negative factors to make a decision. In addition to meeting the basic requirements for humanitarian reinstatement, the request must warrant a favorable exercise of discretion, meaning that the “pros” in granting your request outweigh the “cons.”

There is no form to fill out, but a written request must be sent to the USCIS office that originally approved the petition. The request must include pertinent information and documentation such as beneficiary and petitioner information, death certificate, Form I-864 from Substitute Sponsor or Form I-864W and evidence that a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted. For more information on the process, follow this link to the dedicated USCIS web page on Humanitarian Reinstatement.

Discretionary applications such as Humanitarian Reinstatement are not easily approved. We recommend seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney who can help present your case in the best possible light and show that discretion is warranted in your case.  Contact us, we can help. Follow us on InstagramTwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Tumblr, for up-to-date immigration news.


Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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