When a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR, or green card holder) wants to bring a family member to live with him or her, there are pitfalls and paperwork that may lie ahead. Certain common problems can occur between application and receiving one’s green card. Therefore, it is important to be prepared and informed.
The Death of a Sponsor
One of the most difficult and frightening situations that a potential immigrant can face is when his or her sponsor—the U.S. citizen or LPR vouching for the individual to be able to enter the U.S.—passes away before the petition is approved. Formerly, if this occurred, it meant that the petition was, for all intents and purposes, dead. However, after some reform, there are options to save time and effort.
Petitions for permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen are comprised of two parts: an I-485 and an I-130. The I-130 is the actual Petition for Alien Relative, while the I-485 is the Permanent Residence Application. If the applicant’s sponsor dies while either is in process, the I-130 can be converted into an I-360, which is the Petition for Amerasian, Widow/er, or Special Immigrant. Beyond that, there are two options: either to find another U.S. citizen relative to sponsor the applicant, which would result in a renewed petition, or to ask for humanitarian reinstatement if he or she does not have an eligible relative. Either way, the chances that the petition will be granted are significantly higher than the situation before the law was reformed.
Another common problem is that very often, families are separated due to timing or misunderstanding the law. There is an enormous backlog of family-based petitions due to the United States’ outdated quota system; priority dates are as far back as 20 years in some cases, and that is simply too long to wait for most.
There is nothing to be done about a priority date that is a long way off, but sometimes it may be possible to change a sponsor, and sometimes they change involuntarily. For example, if an individual immigrates to the United States and agrees to serve as a sponsor for his or her daughter, she may age out of the process before the original individual’s priority date comes up. This is what happened to Ruth and her mother Norma; Norma applied for permanent residency for herself and her daughter, given she had a sister in the United States. Eventually the priority date came up, but by that time, Ruth was over 21 years old. Ruth was told she could not immigrate with her mother, due to being too old.
The quota system is one of the main reasons that people resort to undocumented immigration; polls show that a significant percentage of those who have immigrated without documentation to the U.S. recently did so to join family members. One wonders what effect reform would have on the overall flow of undocumented immigration, but any speculation would be just that.
Contact An Immigration Attorney
If you or a loved one is encountering problems with a petition, or have concerns regarding family-sponsored immigration, we can help. Contact the Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today at 630-932-9100 to schedule a consultation.
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