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Humanitarian Reinstatement: Keeping Your Immigrant Visa After the Death of your Petitioner

Most applicants for family-based immigrant visas are all too familiar with the exorbitant delays in obtaining their visa to the United States. It currently takes eleven years for a married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen to obtain his or her visa after the initial relative petition is filed, and almost thirteen years for the sibling of a U.S. citizen.

A client came to us with an eleven-year-old case. Her father, a U.S. citizen, filed a relative petition for her in 2003 under the category "married daughter of a U.S. cititzen". USCIS approved the petition in 2005, and our client began her long wait for a visa.

Sadly, several years after the petition was approved, our client's father passed away before she obtained her immigrant visa. As a result, when her visa became available in 2014, USCIS revoked its approval of the initial petition. Our client came to seek our assistance to get her petition reinstated. She explained to us that her mother, also a U.S. citizen, remained in the United States and needed our client by her side to care for her in her advanced age and declining health. We informed our client that we could help her apply for humanitarian reinstatement.

Humanitarian reinstatement is available to beneficiaries of approved relative petitions, if the petitioner died after the petition was approved. Since this was our client's case, we filed a Request for Humanitarian Reinstatement with USCIS on our client's behalf. We successfully argued that there was a humanitarian reason to reinstate our client's petition. We described her mother's long history of illness and the loss of her primary caretaker, our client's father. We also argued that our client's sister, a U.S. citizen, was qualified to be our client's financial sponsor as a substitute for the deceased petitioner.

Three months later, our Request for Humanitarian Reinstatement was approved and our client's visa application was reinstated. Since her visa is now available, she can expect to move to the United States and be with her mother in 2015—a good twelve years after her father filed his relative petition.

Marlene Ailloud is an Associate Attorney with Fayad Law, P.C. and serves clients from our Fairfax, VA office. Our team assists clients with all types of family immigration cases, and we have offices conveniently located in Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. If you would like to learn how our experienced immigration lawyers can assist with your case, please contact our firm today!

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