If the petitioner or principal beneficiary in an immigrant petition dies, may USCIS still approve the case? May the surviving beneficiaries still immigrate to the United States? In some cases, section 204(l) relief is the way.
Section 204(l) of the Immigration & Nationality Act allows certain beneficiaries (and derivative beneficiaries) to continue with an Immigrant Visa request or Adjustment to Permanent Residence application even after the Form I-130 petitioner (or principal beneficiary) has died.
Unlike the survivor benefits for widow(er)s of U.S. citizens, and unlike humanitarian reinstatement for principal beneficiaries of approved petitions, section 204(l) relief protects a broader category of persons if they show they resided in the United States at the time of the death, and they continue to reside in the United States.
Section 204(l) provides benefits not only when the U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioner dies, but also, in some cases, when the principal beneficiary or principal applicant dies. It allows eligible derivative beneficiaries to continue with the green card process even if the principal beneficiary dies. Derivative beneficiaries are applicants who cannot be directly petitioned for, but may join the principal beneficiary of the petition based on a spousal or parent-minor child relationship.
In episode 4 of The Legal Immigrant podcast, I discuss who may be eligible for 204(l) benefits, the residence and admissibility requirements, the discretionary factors, and how to apply for the relief.
For more information, see:
Section 201(b)(2)(A)(i) Allows Certain Widows or Widowers of U.S. Citizens to Become Permanent Residents Even When the Citizen Has Died
Humanitarian Reinstatement Allows Certain Principal Beneficiaries to Become Permanent Residents Even When Petitioner Has Died
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Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC