The wait times to receive lawful permanent residence can often be over 10 years. Under the Immigration laws, if the petitioner passes away before the beneficiary’s priority date is reached the petition is automatically revoked. However, sometimes a person is able to obtain humanitarian reinstatement of the old family based visa petition. If a person has extenuating circumstances they can appeal to USCIS or the Department of State for a reinstatement of their visa petition. This often requires that they have certain relatives who still have immigration status in the United States who can substitute in as a sponsor. In these cases, DOS and USCIS look at all the humanitarian factors in the case in order to determine whether they should grant humanitarian reinstatement of the petition.
There is also a newer section of the law, 204(l), which provides for reinstatement of any type of immigrant petition when the beneficiaries are inside the United States and a necessary party to the petition passes away. This section can apply to both many different types of petitions including but not limited to family and employment based visa petitions. In these cases, a petition may be reinstated if the Secretary of DHS determines that approval would not be contrary to the public interest and that there is a substitute sponsor on the affidavit of support.