Humanitarian Reinstatement

What is Humanitarian Reinstatement?

U.S. citizens and permanent residents may file a petition to bring their overseas relatives to live and work in the United States. U.S. citizens may petition parents, spouses, siblings, and married and unmarried children of any age; permanent residents may only petition spouses or their unmarried children of any age. The approval process can take a long time depending on the individual case and applicants can expect wait times of months or even years.

Because the wait times are so long, instances where the U.S. based petitioner dies before the process is completed and his overseas relatives are granted permanent residency are not uncommon. In such cases, the overseas beneficiaries petition applications are automatically revoked and they are unable to proceed with their case. This is especially tragic because the overseas applicant’s permanent residency petition would have otherwise been accepted, were it not for the untimely death of their U.S. based petitioning relative.

There is a lifeline available in such situations. Principal beneficiaries of a petitioning relative who has since died have the option of asking U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to proceed with their permanent residency applications for humanitarian reasons. This is known as humanitarian reinstatement.

How Do I Apply for Humanitarian Reinstatement and What Are the Eligibility Requirements?

One thing to keep in mind about applying for a humanitarian reinstatement is that there are no forms to fill and no set procedure. The principal applicant whose petitioning relative died will have to make their appeal directly to USCIS through typed letters, supporting documentation, and supplementary evidence.

Required documentation that must be included in a humanitarian reinstatement application packet:

  • A copy of the approved Form I–130 that was revoked after the death of the petitioning relative. A receipt number of the approved petition may also be used in lieu of a copy.
  • The death certificate of the petitioning U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative.
  • An “affidavit of support” or Form I-864 from a substitute sponsor is also required. The substitute sponsor takes the place of the petitioning relative who has died and must prove that they can financially support the overseas relatives when they arrive in the U.S. This substitute sponsor must be a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen, over 18 years of age, and must be a direct relation or married to the humanitarian reinstatement applicant.
  • Birth certificate, marriage license or other legal document proving the substitute sponsor’s relation to the applicant.
  • A detailed explanation of why the applicant deserves humanitarian reinstatement.

How Does USCIS Determine Eligibility?

Determining the eligibility for humanitarian reinstatement is entirely at the discretion of the USCIS officer looking into the case. There is no set guideline or checklist for a successful application. The “Affidavit of Support” Form I-864 offers the applicant an opportunity to detail their story and explain why exactly they are requesting reinstatement. Past experience has shown that some of the factors that can sway a USCIS agent to look favorably on humanitarian reinstatement are:

  • The impact on U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or lawfully present family members living in the United States.
  • Age or health concerns of the principal applicant and any secondary family members included in the initial sponsorship petition that was revoked.
  • Lawful residence in the United States for a lengthy period by the principal applicant for humanitarian reinstatement.
  • A lack of ties/danger returning to the home country.
  • Lengthy processing delays for the initial petition application at the hands of USCIS.

The best way to get a humanitarian reinstatement application approved is to use an experienced immigration attorney who will help create a successful application packet and try to get your permanent resident status approved with as few delays as possible.