Dear Realtor,

Recently, a client of mine passed away. Previous to her death, we had assisted this client in submitting her Petition for Alien Relative to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition, which would allow her adult daughter from Colombia to come to the United States, had already been approved when the death occurred.

In addition to her heartbreak over the loss of her mother, now the daughter also would have contend with a complication in her immigration case. Since her mother was the sponsoring U.S. Citizen who had submitted the petition, the daughter no longer had a petitioning sponsor. Not so long ago, this would have meant the daughter would have had to start over in her petitioning process. In 2002, however, Congress enacted the Family Sponsor Immigration Act, which allows for a substitute sponsor to take the place of the original sponsor/petitioner in the case of their death.

The substituting sponsor must be financially eligible to be a sponsor; must be either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; must be a resident of the U.S.; must be at least 18 years of age; and must be either a parent or parent-in-law, a sibling or sibling-in-law, a spouse, a child, a grandparent or grandchild of the person being sponsored.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions on this or other legal issues.

Sincerely,

Don Gonzalez, Esq.