My father is from Mexico and his grandfather was a natural born US citizen. His father (my grandfather) was automatically granted his permanent residency for being the son of a US citizen. In 94 my grandfather signed the petition for my dads permanent residency and then died in 99. Everything had been approved and when he was assigned an appointment for finger prints (not sure if thats what it was for) he didnt go because somebody had told him that he couldn't fix his papers anymore because the person who signs the petition needs to be alive.
Essentially you would need to petition USCIS (immigration) for humanitarian reinstatement and "if" they were to agree then find a substitute US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) who is willing to adopt/substitute in as the financial sponsor who is willing to take responsibility and accept financial responsibility for the alien not to become a "public charge." Here's what worries/bother's me. Under the law in general you have a certain timeframe in which you reasonably pursue steps to obtain a benefit, and if not done timely you waive your right to a benefit/right, called latches. In addition and in specific to immigration laws, the I-130 immigrant visa once approved for the benefit of the alien by the petitioner will automatically be revoked or terminated by the State Department for failing to apply for an immigrant visa within one year of notification of availability of the immigrant visa OR if the family petitioner dies, see 8 CFR 204.2(h). There were amendments to the immigration laws in 2009 that protects the immigration benefits of principal beneficiaries from the death of the petitioner but these are complex and you should clearly consult a competent immigration attorney to determine whether this is still possible or not, or whether too much time has passed.
If the I-130 was approved at the time when your grandfather (the Petitioner) was still alive, then you can reinstate the I-130. However, everything you describe happened a very long time ago. I would suggest a personal consultation with an experienced attorney to discuss your particular situation.
On many occassions I have found that unbeknownst to him one is already a U.S. citizen under the existing law. Now I am not sure if this is the case with your father but that possbility exists depending upon your father's/ grandfather's specific situation and you may discover that your father is already a U.S. citizen. I hope you consult with an experienced attorney about this. Best Wishes!
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