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INA Section 204 (l) : Approval of Petitions and Applications after the Death of the Qualifying Relative

The immigration process takes time and a significant amount of effort. Oftentimes, families apply to emigrate to the U.S. by using one individual as the Petitioner or Sponsor with those seeking to immigrate as ‘derivative’ beneficiaries. However, time can sometimes leave room for unfortunate circumstances to occur to your principal applicant. In the case of a death of the qualifying relative for U.S. immigration, here’s what you should know.

What’s Changed: Section 204 (l)

Historically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not permitted beneficiaries of a visa petition to continue an application if the Petitioner has died. However, subsequent changes in the law were enacted. Section 204 (l) has resulted in immigrants getting their green cards that were previously told they no longer qualified. Among the many considerations and factors under Section 204 (l) for immigrants that have applied through a qualifying relative that is now deceased, two are major factors to make note of:

  • The surviving beneficiary or immigration applicant was living in the U.S. when the qualifying relative (Petitioner) died
  • The surviving beneficiary or immigration applicant continues to live in the U.S. on the date that USCIS made a decision on the petition or application that was pending at the time their qualifying relative died

Despite these new definitions, the term ‘qualifying relative’ is still somewhat vague, so having expert guidance alongside you through this new chapter of your immigration process is essential.

Seeking Relief: Who’s Eligible

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states that for beneficiaries whose qualifying relative passes away during the immigration process seeking relief is possible if:

  • The principal or derivative beneficiary of the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) is the survivor of the petitioner
  • The derivative beneficiary of the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) is the survivor of the principal beneficiary
  • The derivative beneficiary of Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) is the survivor of the principal beneficiary
  • The petitioner dies and the beneficiary of Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition (Form I-730) remains
  • T or U non-immigrant visa holder in a derivative classification (T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, U-2, U-3, U-4, U-5) and the principal (T-1 or U-1) visa holder died
  • Derivative asylee (AS-2 or AS-3) and the principal asylee (AS-1) has died during the immigration process.

The policies for the death of a qualifying relative do require research to understand and apply to your specific circumstance. With the help of a knowledgeable immigration lawyer, you can confidently know the best options that are available to you for your specific situation.

More About Immigration After Death

Losing a relative is enough to handle without having to navigate the newfound challenges of immigration without a qualifying relative. After years of experience in immigration law, we are here to help guide you through the process under your new circumstances and to set you up for success in your immigration application.

For a free consultation of your specific immigration case, call our team at (866) 641-7517 and we will provide you with the next course of action. 

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