Expansion of Surviving Immigrant Beneficiaries Recommended

When a petitioning family member dies before a relative completes immigration processing, a grieving family is left not only to accept the personal loss but also to address their undefined immigration status. For many years, some beneficiaries were left in immigration limbo upon the death of their qualifying relative. Families who had long planned to make the United States their home had few options and faced an uncertain future in the United States.

Congress to protect and expand the rights of surviving immigrant beneficiaries and derivatives designed a law to make it easier for beneficiaries of certain approved or pending visa petitions to secure immigration benefits. Three years after the enactment of section 204(l) approved petitions preserved under section 204(l) are deemed "automatically revoked" by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

To correct this, the CIS Ombudsman is recommending:

1) A standard form and describe an adjudication process consistent with the plain language of INA section 204(l);

2) Train USCIS staff to interpret and apply properly INA section 204(l) and stop regarding survivor benefit requests as a form of discretionary reinstatement;

3) Publish instructions for applicants and petitioners and;

4) Track and monitor the process.

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