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Today, we would like to address a poignant and often challenging aspect of the immigration process: what happens when a familial sponsor, who has filed a petition for permanent residency on behalf of a family member, unfortunately, passes away before the process is completed.

Losing a loved one is undoubtedly a difficult experience, and the legal implications surrounding immigration can add an additional layer of complexity. In such cases, the affected family members must understand their rights, options, and the potential avenues available to them.

Immediate Considerations:
1. Notification Requirements:
Family members should promptly inform the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the sponsor’s passing.
Provide the USCIS with a copy of the death certificate and any other requested documentation.
2. Survivor Benefits:
Assess if the surviving family members may be eligible for survivor benefits, such as humanitarian reinstatement of the visa petition.

The Humanitarian Reinstatement Process:
1. Eligibility Criteria:
USCIS may consider humanitarian reinstatement if the sponsored family member is in danger of losing a significant benefit, and there is a compelling humanitarian factor.
2. Evidence and Documentation:
Compile a strong case with evidence of the relationship, the sponsor’s intent to immigrate, and the impact on the family if the petition is not reinstated.
A detailed explanation of the humanitarian reasons supporting reinstatement is crucial.
3. Filing Process:
Submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with a cover letter explaining the circumstances and requesting humanitarian reinstatement.
Include the death certificate, evidence of the relationship, and any other supporting documents.
4. Legal Assistance: Seek legal counsel to navigate the complex process of humanitarian reinstatement. A knowledgeable immigration attorney can guide the family through the necessary steps and increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Alternatives and Options:
1. Family-Based Preference Categories:
Explore alternative family-based preference categories that may apply to the surviving family members.
2. Derivative Beneficiaries:
Assess if other family members can be considered derivative beneficiaries and continue the immigration process.

Losing a familial sponsor during the immigration process is undoubtedly a challenging situation, but it’s important to remember that options exist to navigate these difficulties. Seeking legal advice and understanding the available pathways can provide clarity and support during such emotionally trying times.

If you or someone you know is facing challenges in the immigration process following the passing of a familial sponsor, our dedicated immigration team is here to provide assistance and guidance. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation.