There are many ways to obtain an immigrant visa in the United States, and the laws try to account for the many various situations that may occur while people are going through the process. Legally bringing relatives to the U.S. can take a long time, so the USCIS has a system in place to handle circumstances when the petitioner dies before completion. This is called a humanitarian reinstatement.

When a Petitioner Dies

Your immigration petitioner is likely a close family member. When your petitioner dies, it is not only upsetting, but you might believe your immigration petition is now in jeopardy. It is important to know that the petition process does not necessarily end with the death of the petitioner. Although this is a very stressful time for you, there is a process in place to assist you with your immigration petition.

Humanitarian Reinstatement Criteria

Your original immigration petition utilized form I-130. If the petition was approved before the petitioner died, you qualify to request a humanitarian reinstatement. If your petitioner died prior to petition approval, you may still be eligible for relief for surviving relatives. This requires you to provide form I-864, an Affidavit of Support, with a substitute sponsor. An exemption may be possible, with form I-864W. The substitute sponsor has to be another relative, and must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident at least 18 years of age.

Requesting a Humanitarian Reinstatement

Those who qualify for a humanitarian reinstatement must provide a request, in writing, at the USCIS office where the original petition was filed. Standard reinstatements do not require any other petitions or forms to be filled out or submitted, and there is no fee for a reinstatement. The written request should include:

  • Your Name
  • Original Petitioner’s Name
  • Registration Numbers for You and Petitioner
  • Petitioner’s Death Certificate
  • Evidence to Support Reinstatement
  • Form I-864 or I-864W

Include evidence that supports the need for a reinstatement for humanitarian reasons. For example, you may include family impact, age or health issues, or any other information that may be helpful in explaining your circumstances to authorities.

Help with Humanitarian Reinstatements

The immigration process is a very long and arduous one, and can take a more difficult turn when the petitioner dies before completion. A knowledgeable immigration attorney will help determine your eligibility for reinstatement and will guide you through the process. You likely have many concerns and questions about what will happen and how to proceed. Your lawyer will be a source of information and assistance as you move forward after this difficult time.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Humanitarian Reinstatement, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at  480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.