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How do you immigrate when your sponsor dies?

Posted on in naturalization & citizenship

We hope all goes well with your immigration, but unforeseen circumstances could bring your plans to a standstill. For instance, what happens if your U.S. sponsor/spouse dies before you receive your visa?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains how to navigate a principal beneficiary or petitioners’ death. This turn of events does not have to bar you from fulfilling your desires for citizenship.

Widowers and widows

Widows and widowers of U.S. citizens may apply for a green card within two years of their petitioning spouse’s or principal beneficiary’s death. This only applies if the two of you had a legitimate marriage rather than one arranged for a green card. If you and your petitioner or beneficiary separated when she or he died, or if you remarried, you do not qualify to apply for a green card. If you have children younger than 21, they may join you as derivatives.

I-130 petition

Did your spouse file the I-130 petition before her or his death? If so, you may advance with your visa application once you let the USCIS know about your spouse’s death. You must share this information so the USCIS changes the petition to an I-360 self-petition.

Perhaps your spouse did not file the I-130 petition before dying. If so, you may file the self-petition yourself. Whether you use the consular processing system or the adjustment of the status process depends on your current legal spouse status.


If another U.S. green card holder or citizen wants to act as your substitute financial sponsor, you could qualify to reinstate your application. Your new sponsor must submit Form I-864, which signifies the person agrees to support you financially in the States.

Hopefully, all goes well with your quest for citizenship. Understanding your options could make the process easier.

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