What Happens when a Petitioner Passes Away Before Your Case is Complete

Immigration regulations have been modified over time to include provisions to help a beneficiary of a case who has lost their petitioning family member.  For a spouse of a USC Petitioner who is already grieving over the loss of their spouse, it is devastating to hear that he/she can no longer immigrate to the United States.  Fortunately, this law has changed so that spouses who lose their petitioning spouse can now self petition and receive favorable results in most cases.  The Freeman v. Gonzalez case was decided several years ago after a beneficiary’s husband passed away prior to the 2 year anniversary of their marriage.

However, for an adult child of a petitioning parent, the same law does not apply.  Instead an applicant must seek Section 204(l) relief in an effort to obtain lawful permanent resident status.  This type of exception is sparingly granted under exceptional circumstances.  This is true even where the child has been waiting for many years and may already have an approved I-130 in place.  When requesting 204(l) relief certain evidence must be provided as follows:

  • Your name, your deceased relative’s name, and the names of any other beneficiaries on the same petition;
  • Your alien registration number (A number), if one has been assigned;
  • Your deceased relative’s A number, if applicable;
  • The A number for any other beneficiaries, if they have one;
  • The receipt number on your petition or application;
  • Your relative’s death certificate, including a translation if needed;
  • Proof of your U.S. residence (examples include, but are not limited to: lease/mortgage, utility bills, pay stubs, school records, etc.) at the time of your relative’s death up until the present time; and
  • An I-864 must be completed from a substitute sponsor or I-864W exemption if applicableIt is very important to provide strong supporting details when requesting an exception whether you are a spouse who’s petitioning spouse passed away or another family member who has passed away.

    Cynthia I. Waisman attorney focuses her practice in the area of immigration law. For more information, go to our website http://www.imigrationattorneytampa.net or contact our Clearwater office at 727.712.2299 or Tampa office at 813.279.6180 today to discuss your immigration case.  We are here to help immigrants obtain the benefits they deserve.