No one wants to think about it. But our final days rarely come when we expect them. In the time of the Covid pandemic, we have been forced to reckon with our mortality on an almost daily basis. And the question some of us wished we’d never have to face in the process of immigration has become more immediate and real: what if the sponsor dies before the immigration process has been completed?
It seems cold to call death a legal inconvenience, but for an immigrant seeking to legally move to America, it can be exactly that if their sponsor passes away before the process can be completed. In this unfortunate event, an experienced immigration lawyer could help your case and help the process go forward.
What Factors Can Influence Whether My Case Proceeds or Not?
The particulars of each individual case could determine whether the immigrant can still obtain a green card if their petitioner dies before the immigration process is completed. The following are factors that will be considered:
- Whether the sponsor was a US citizen.
- Whether the immigrant and the petitioner were a lawfully married couple.
- The qualifications of a substitute sponsor.
- How far along in the process the case was before the untimely death of the sponsor.
- The status of substitute financial sponsorship.
Who Can Serve as a Substitute Sponsor?
We hope you never need to consider a substitute sponsor for your immigration case. But if one must, then there are certain requirements that must be considered. To qualify as a substitute sponsor, the substitute must be 18 years of age or older, a US citizen or a permanent resident meeting all legal resident requirements, and related to the immigrant by blood or marriage.
The sponsor must meet the same financial requirements as the original petitioner and will be financially obligated to the immigrant relative until either death, a departure from the US, or new legal US resident status. It can feel like an honor to serve as a sponsor for citizenship but very few people may qualify. And even if qualifications are met, it is a big responsibility and must not be taken lightly.
How Can a Legal Professional Help Me?
In many cases, the immigration process may die with the petitioner, but there are certain means by which the case may be allowed to proceed and the immigrant may still be granted legal status. There are numerous boxes to check to make sure that the replacement sponsor qualifies for the case and it can feel overwhelming.
Death and grieving are difficult enough without worrying about further complications of the immigration system. The Bains Law Offices have years of experience aiding the immigration process of foreign individuals looking for a new life in the US. We could help make things easier during this difficult time.