What Happens If a Green Card Petitioner Dies?

Green cards allow foreign nationals to live and work in the United States. One of the most popular ways to get a green card is through the family-based visa process. In many cases, a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen may petition on behalf of their spouse so they can live in the country together.

However, what happens when the petitioner spouse passes away? Keep reading for more information.

Death of Petitioner or Principal Beneficiary

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a protocol for green cards after either the petitioner or beneficiary dies.

  • The petitioner is the spouse or family member that files a petition to the USCIS on behalf of their loved one
  • The principal beneficiary is the individual who the petitioner specifically submits documentation for. When a petitioner files on behalf of their spouse, their children are not the principal beneficiaries.

General Process

There are several issues that may arise depending on when the petitioner passes. If the petitioner dies while the petition is pending, it can be approved through an alternative immigration benefit. A USCIS officer may approve the petition if the applicant (beneficiary) was in the United States at the time of their loved one’s death.

Other exceptions include:

  • The applicant is a beneficiary of an approved family-based visa petition
  • The applicant is a derivative beneficiary of a pending or approved employment-based petition
  • The applicant was admitted as a T or U nonimmigrant
  • The applicant is a derivative asylee

Additionally, if the applicant received an adjustment of status approval, they may also be able to proceed with their green card approval.

Your Immigration Authority

Sintsirmas and Mueller Co. L.P.A. can assist you with your immigration case. Our firm is experienced with a number of immigration cases from adjustment of status to removal defense, and more. Our team can give you the support you need.

Contact our firm for more information.