Surviving Relatives Law

The Surviving Relatives Law, Section 204(l) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, was enacted on October 28, 2009, to benefit principal and derivative beneficiaries of family-based and employment-based petitions in the event of a death of the petitioner. This law favors qualifying beneficiaries residing in the United States at the time of the death of the sponsor or principal beneficiary and continues to reside in the United States, and granting immigration benefit is not contrary to public interest.

Before the Surviving Benefits Law was enacted, the only recourse of surviving relatives was to request, pursuant to the Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2002, for the humanitarian reinstatement of the deceased petitioner’s approved petition and USCIS, in its discretion, could grant the revival of the petition for humanitarian reasons. This earlier law covered only family-based immigrant petitions.