It’s an unfortunate, unlucky situation. You’re in the process of immigrating to the U.S., but your visa sponsor suddenly passes away. On top of the grief you’re experiencing from losing a family member, all of the sudden your immigration status is in jeopardy.
What can you do in this situation? What happens next?
If you’re abroad and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has approved your visa petition, but the petitioner passes away, the approval is then invalid. All hope is not lost, however, as there are other avenues to permanent residence.
The quickest maneuver would be to have a different eligible relative petition on your behalf. Eligible relatives include: your spouse, child that is 18 years of age, parent, legal guardian, sibling, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent or grandchild. If these other qualifying relatives are not available to you, there are other options.
For example, in order to reinstate your petition, the USCIS may take into account:
- How much time you’ve spent in America.
- Whether or not your denial would disrupt your family unit, causing hardship to U.S. citizens.
- The state of your health if you’re in advanced age.
- The conditions in which you live in your home country.
- Any unnecessary delays in your application made by the government.
It is easier if you’re currently in the U.S. Even if your sponsor passed away before your immigrant visa was approved, the USCIS may still grant it to you. If you’re already in America, you also don’t need to demonstrate any sort of humanitarian hardship.
If you find yourself unsure of where to turn after the death of your immigrant visa sponsor, you may want to consult with an attorney. You should know that there are alternative options to obtaining permanent residence. An experienced immigration lawyer can guide you through other courses of action available to you, assisting in your efforts to settle in the U.S.