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Humanitarian Reinstatement: How to bring the pending petition back to life?

Many of us are fortunate enough to come to the United States via a petition filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration service (USCIS). Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, allows the Petitioner to ask USCIS to allow a relative from another country, the Applicant, to immigrate to the United States. In the event that the I-130 petition is approved- meaning that the immigrant is allowed to immigrate to the United States according with all relevant regulations- but the Petitioner dies before the Applicant is able to immigrate, then the approved I-130 petition is revoked automatically. Now, this might sound like the end of the road to someone not familiar with this country’s immigration laws, but here is where Humanitarian Reinstatement comes into play.

In the most straightforward sense, Humanitarian Reinstatement is a way for USCIS to still allow the intending immigrant to immigrate to the United States by having another qualified person take the place of the original Petitioner. USCIS is not obligated to approve the request; it is up to the discretion of USCIS to accept or decline your request. A common example is where a mother files an I-130 petition for her son, the Applicant, to immigrate to the United States. The mother dies before the son is able to immigrate to the U.S. The petition is revoked; a qualified individual under the relevant regulations would be able to file a request for a “Humanitarian Reinstatement” of the then automatically revoked I-130 petition.


  1. A qualified individual must be a U.S. citizen, or lawful permanent resident

  2. Must be at least 18 years old

  3. And must be your spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sibling, child, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or legal guardian.

There is no form or set way to prepare the written request, but make sure to include the following information in support of your Request for Humanitarian Reinstatement:

  • Information about the original petitioner, your relationship with the applicant and the receipt number of all related petitions;

  • All relevant identifying documents of the all three parties must also be provided, including all applicable birth certificates, naturalization certificates, Green Card alien numbers, passports.

  • Of great importance, is the Petitioner’s death certificate which must be translated into English if in a foreign language(certified translation). Please also include Form I-864 for the substitute petitioner.

Then, after this comes the bona fides: including all the beautiful and good things of why this petition should be reinstated. This is where having sincere heartfelt letters written by the Petitioner, and other lawful relatives in the U.S are helpful in convincing USCIS. Also, if the applicant has some health condition or a disability that requires a level of care that is not available in the home country then now is a good time to include all relevant and readily verifiable evidence. Here is where the more is the better, leave no doubt that they should exercise their discretion in your favor. Then, the request must be sent to the USCIS office where the petition was originally approved.

If the petitioner dies while there is a petition for the applicant to immigrate to the U.S.(I-130), adjust his/her status (get Green Card, I-485, for example, then the substitute petitioner is able to get some other form of discretionary relief from USCIS. Again, it is a written request where all relevant information is provided just as if the petition had been originally approved. What varies is where the request is sent.

Since it is up to USCIS’s discretion to approve such request, it is very important for the substitute Petitioner to seek a duly licensed attorney’s help. There is no set way of sending your request to USCIS, but you need someone with experience that has prepared these types of requests. As USCIS’s website warns, the wrong kind of help can hurt your case. Please be aware that many people unauthorized to practice law will offer immigration services. An experienced immigration attorney will surely be a safer bet for your particular immigration case, including your request for a Humanitarian Reinstatement.


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