Upon the death of a petitioner (the LPR or U.S. citizen who is sponsoring relatives), any pending petitions and also previously approved I-130s based on that person are terminated. Through a process called “humanitarian reinstatement,” a revoked I-130 can sometimes be reactivated if there is sufficient hardship or humanitarian ground for doing so.

Widows and widowers face a different standard: if the couple had been married for at least two years and the alien was living in the United States at the time of the LPR/U.S. citizen’s death, a widow/er can self-petition for residency using form I-360, which replaces the I-130.

But even this allowance left many aliens—whose marriages were less than two years old, or who were living abroad when the petitioner died—without recourse.

On October 29, 2009 the law changed to address these absurdities. Now, a widow/er need only prove that (1) the marriage was bona fide at the time it was entered into, (2) that s/he has not remarried, (3) and that s/he is not inadmissible for other reasons (such as criminal history, previous unlawful presence, or security concerns.)

For those widows and widowers who were previously ineligible to come to the United States, there is a two-year window open until October of 2011 for them to take advantage of this retroactive law. The law also extends protections to derivative beneficiaries of the widow/er.

If you recently lost your petitioner husband or wife, or if you were one of those widows or widowers who was unable to self-petition under the old standards, our Nevada immigration law firm can help you understand what options are available.