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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 US 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 worth of approval – but you might just need a little help from an immigration attorney.”  And, if your green card is denied, depending on the reason, you may have a strong basis to appeal.

Related: Adjustment of Status: Complete Guide

What to Do if Your Green Card Application Is Denied

If your green card application gets denied, the first thing you should do is consider working with an immigration lawyer, particularly if the denial was due to more serious reasons than a lack of documentation or bureaucratic error.

Some procedures throughout the green card application process can be complicated, and the right immigration attorney can help you navigate through them.

If the USCIS denies the initial petition that makes you eligible to later file for a green card (commonly Forms I-129, I-129F, I-130, and I-140), the best place to start is typically filing a new one, ensuring that all of your information is correct.

However, if it gets denied later in the process, things can start to get more complex quickly.

Reapplying for a Green Card

person signing an immigration document

First, if you applied for a green card and received a denial notice, read it carefully. The USCIS will let you know whether or not you can appeal the decision and how you can do so.

If you can appeal it, you can have the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) look over your case to determine whether or not your green card was wrongly denied by the USCIS officer that handled it.

In many situations, appealing the decision isn’t an option; however, you can file a motion to have your green card application reopened or reconsidered.

You can file a motion to reopen your case if your personal situation has since changed, there is a change in law or there are new facts that were not previously available that warrant the reopening of your green card application.  

On the other hand, you can file a motion to reconsider if you believe the USCIS officer denied your application as a result of incorrectly applying a law or policy to the facts of your case. 

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.

Why Do Green Cards Get Denied?

The green card application process is complex; there are various reasons why your application can get denied. The most common reasons include:

  • You don’t meet the eligibility requirements. The USCIS states that immigrants are eligible for a green card if they:
  • Have close relatives who are green card holders or citizens
  • Are sponsored by a US employer
  • Are a special immigrant
  • Have asylee or refugee status
  • Are a victim of abuse, crime, or human trafficking
  • Resided in the US before Jan 1st, 1972

Related: U Visas and You

  • The USCIS denied your underlying petition.
  • For example:
  • Your employer failed to establish a working relationship with you
  • Your sponsor didn’t file a petition on your behalf
  • Your petition is deficient for some other reason (for example, no good faith marriage for an I-130 petition based on marriage)
  • You missed the required appointments. Failing to attend one of the following appointments will result in the denial of your green card application:
  • You made mistakes in your application. Some common green card application errors include:
  • Failing to provide certified English translations for your documents
  • Leaving blank spaces anywhere on your application
  • Not providing valid payment for the application fees
  • Using an electronic signature instead of “wet ink”
  • Submitting photos that don’t meet the government’s requirements
  • There was a processing error. Ensure that you review and respond to any denial notices — the USCIS can sometimes make errors when processing your applications, like:
  • Losing your filing fee
  • Misplacing your documents
  • Misspelling your name
  • Incorrectly listing your birth date
  • Forgetting to send you proper notices
  • You don’t have the proper financial resources. You cannot enter the US as a permanent resident if you will be a “public charge,” meaning you cannot rely on US benefits for financial assistance.
  • You were previously deported or violated immigration laws or have certain criminal history. While you can file for a waiver in some situations, your application will likely get denied if:
  • You knowingly provided false information on your status applications or immigration documents
  • You have been convicted of an aggravated felony
  • You lack good moral character
  • You provided an incorrect address history or employment record
  • You were removed from the US previously
  • You have an unlawful presence in the country, with limited exceptions

What Happens if Your Green Card Isn’t Approved?

woman checking mailbox

If your green card application isn’t approved, you can refile or appeal it with Form I-290B to either appeal to the 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 when trying to get your application approved.

If your green card was denied when applying through consular processing (when you currently live outside the US), you cannot appeal the decision. You can, however, refile your application.

Why Is Getting a Green Card So Difficult?

No matter what basis you’re applying for a green card upon, the process is complex, and the wait can be long.

Not only does each filing category have unique requirements for applying, but it can also be challenging to navigate through each category and determine how your situation fits into them.

In addition, some categories have limits on how many green cards are available at certain times, meaning that, in some cases, you have to wait to get your green card even after successfully applying.

What Happens if You Perform Poorly at the Green Card Interview?

One of a few things can happen if your green card interview doesn’t go well:

  • The USCIS may further investigate your case
  • You may have an opportunity to present additional evidence
  • You may receive a denial notice for your green card application

Because every green card case is unique, there are various ways that you’ll need to respond. An immigration attorney can help evaluate your specific case’s circumstances and facts to advise you about the best way to move forward with your application.

Related: VAWA Green Cards

Need Help Getting Your Green Card Application Approved?

Getting your green card isn’t an easy process; it can be long and complicated. Incorrect filing can waste years and set you back financially, too. Not to mention that receiving a denial is devastating.

Whether your green card application was denied or you’re getting ready to start the application process, we can help. Reach out to us at Abogada Ashley Immigration, Inc. — Your trusted Carlsbad immigration attorney.

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