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Green Card Denial: What Happens Next?

No one wants to receive a green card denial notice in the mail, but it happens. As frustrating as it can be, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream of becoming a U.S. permanent resident and, eventually, a citizen.

Before we get started, remember this: If USCIS intends to deny your green card application, it will often give you notice and an opportunity to supplement your application, making it worthy of approval – but you might just need a little help from an immigration attorney.  Additionally, if your green card is denied, depending on the reason, you may have a strong basis for an appeal.

Why Do Green Cards Get Denied? Embarking on the green card application journey is no small feat, given the intricate web of eligibility criteria and procedural steps.

Understanding the common pitfalls that lead to application denial can equip you with the knowledge needed to navigate this complex process more effectively.

1. Eligibility Criteria

  • Family Connections:  Close relatives who are U.S. citizens or green card holders
  • Employer Sponsorship: Backing by a U.S. employer 
  • Special Immigrant Status:   Unique categories like religious workers or international broadcasters.
  • Humanitarian Grounds:  Asylee or refugee status, or victim of abuse, crime, or human trafficking.
  • Long-Term Residency: Living in the U.S. before January 1, 1972, under the registry program.

2. Petition Pitfalls

  • Employer-Related Issues: Employer fails to establish a legitimate working relationship.
  • Sponsorship Lapses:  Sponsor neglects to file a petition.
  • Deficient Petitions: Missing essential elements, like proof of a good faith marriage for an I-130 petition.

3. Missed Appointments

  • Biometrics Appointment: Missing your fingerprinting session.
  • Green Card Interview: Failing to attend, or performing poorly in, the interview.

4. Application Errors

  • Incomplete Translations: Not providing certified English translations.
  • Blank Spaces: Leaving sections of your application empty.
  • Payment Issues:  Invalid payment for application fees.
  • Signature Errors: Using an electronic instead of a “wet ink” signature.
  • Photo Requirements:  Photos  meeting government standards.

5. USCIS Processing Errors

  • Lost Fees: Misplacement of your filing fee.
  • Document Issues: Losing essential documents.
  • Data Errors: Misspelling your name or incorrect birth date.
  • Notification Lapses: Failing to send proper notices.

6. Financial Viability

  • Public Charge: Inability to  support yourself without U.S. benefits.

7. Legal and Moral Roadblocks

  • False Information:  Providing incorrect details.
  • Criminal History:  Aggravated felony convictions.
  • Moral Character: Lacking good moral character as determined by USCIS.
  • Address and Employment History:  Incorrect or incomplete histories.
  • Previous Deportations: Having been removed from the U.S. before.
  • Unlawful Presence: Residing in the U.S. without authorization.

By being aware of these potential roadblocks, you can better prepare your green card application to withstand the scrutiny of the USCIS.

How Often Are Green Cards Denied?

Thousands of green cards get denied by the USCIS each year. For example, the USCIS received over 757,000 green card applications through Form I-130 — they denied over 81,000 of those.

During the same period, the USCIS denied over 44,000 out of almost 289,000 family-based applications (Form I-485) for green cards.

What Happens if Your Green Card Isn’t Approved?

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If your green card application is denied, you can apply again. You have the option to refile or appeal the decision using Form I-290B. This form allows you to either appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) or file a motion to reopen or reconsider your case. There is a required $675 filing fee for this form.

You must file your green card application appeal within 30 days of receiving your denial notice. Whether you choose to refile or appeal, an immigration attorney can be an invaluable resource in getting your application approved.

If your green card was denied while applying through consular processing (when you currently live outside the U.S.), you cannot appeal the decision. However, you can refile your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the immediate steps to take after a green card denial?

After receiving a green card denial, it’s crucial to consult an immigration attorney like Abogada Ashley Immigration immediately. They can help you understand the specific reasons for the denial and guide you on the best course of action, which may include filing an appeal or a new application.

Can I appeal a green card denial?

Yes, you can appeal a green card denial. The process involves submitting a Notice of Appeal to the USCIS within 30 days of receiving the denial notice. USCIS will then review your case and make a decision.

What are the common reasons for Green Card denial?

  • Common reasons for green card denial include:
  • Not meeting eligibility requirements.
  • Making mistakes in the application.
  • Missing required appointments.
  • Having a criminal history.
  • Financial insufficiency and previous deportations can also lead to denial.

How long does the appeal process take?

The appeal process can take several months or even years, depending on the complexity of your case and the backlog of the immigration court. It’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney to expedite the process.

What happens if I miss a required appointment?

Missing a required appointment, like a biometrics session or a green card interview, can immediately deny your application. You may have to start the application process all over again.

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Can I reapply after a Green Card denial?

Yes, you can reapply after a green card denial, but addressing the issues that led to the initial denial is essential. Submitting a new application without resolving these issues will likely result in another denial.

Can criminal history affect my Green Card application?

Yes, criminal history, especially convictions for aggravated felonies, can severely impact your green card application. In some cases, waivers are available, but it’s best to consult an immigration attorney like Abogada Ashley Immigration.

What if there was a processing error by USCIS?

If you suspect that a processing error by USCIS led to your green card denial, it’s crucial to bring this to the attention of your immigration attorney. They can help you file an appeal or take other corrective actions.

Can I stay in the U.S. while appealing a Green Card denial?

The ability to stay in the U.S. while appealing a green card denial varies from case to case. Generally, you can remain in the country until a final decision is made, but exceptions exist.

What steps should I take right after receiving a green card denial notice?

Upon receiving a green card denial notice, it is crucial to carefully review the notice to understand the specific reasons for the denial. Gather all your application documents and consult with an immigration attorney to discuss your options for refiling or appealing the decision. Acting promptly and understanding the basis for the denial can help you formulate a strong strategy for your next steps.

Can I continue to stay in the U.S. while my green card appeal is being processed?

If your green card application gets denied while you are in the U.S., your current status will determine if you can stay during the appeal process. If you hold another valid visa status, you are allowed to stay in the country. However, if your only basis for staying was the pending green card application, you may need to consult with an immigration attorney to explore options for maintaining your legal presence during the appeal.

How long does the green card appeal process take?

The time it takes to process a green card appeal can vary. Generally, it may take several months to over a year for the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) to review and make a decision on your appeal. The complexity of your case and the current workload of the AAO can significantly impact the processing time. It’s essential to stay informed about your case status and maintain communication with your immigration attorney throughout the process.

Are there specific documents I should include when refiling my green card application?

When refiling your green card application, ensure you address the issues mentioned in the denial notice. Include any additional evidence or documentation that supports your eligibility, such as updated financial statements, corrected forms, additional affidavits, or any new evidence that was not previously submitted. Providing a comprehensive and error-free application can improve your chances of approval.

Can a green card denial affect future visa applications?

Yes, a green card denial can potentially impact future visa applications, especially if the denial was due to reasons such as misrepresentation, fraud, or criminal issues. These factors could be considered in subsequent applications and may result in increased scrutiny or additional hurdles. It’s important to fully address any issues that led to the denial and seek legal advice to understand how best to approach future visa applications.

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