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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

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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? Navigating the Complexities of USCIS Guidelines

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 to navigate this complex process more effectively.

Eligibility Criteria: The Foundation of Your Green Card Application

  • Family Connections: Having close relatives who are U.S. citizens or green card holders.
  • Employer Sponsorship: Being backed by a U.S. employer for your application.
  • Special Immigrant Status: Qualifying under unique categories like religious workers or international broadcasters.
  • Humanitarian Grounds: Holding asylee or refugee status, or being a victim of abuse, crime, or human trafficking.
  • Long-Term Residency: Living in the U.S. before January 1, 1972, may grant you eligibility under the registry program.

Petition Pitfalls: When USCIS Denies Your Underlying Petition

  • Employer-Related Issues: Failure of your employer to establish a legitimate working relationship.
  • Sponsorship Lapses: Your sponsor neglects to file a petition on your behalf.
  • Deficient Petitions: Lack of essential elements like a good faith marriage for an I-130 petition.

Missed Appointments: A Fast Track to Denial

  • Biometrics Appointment: Missing your fingerprinting session.
  • Green Card Interview: Failing to attend the crucial interview.

Application Errors: Small Mistakes, Big Consequences

  • Incomplete Translations: Not providing certified English translations for foreign documents.
  • Blank Spaces: Leaving any section of your application empty.
  • Payment Issues: Failing to provide valid payment for application fees.
  • Signature Errors: Using an electronic signature instead of a “wet ink” signature.
  • Photo Requirements: Submitting photos that don’t meet government standards.

USCIS Processing Errors: When the System Fails You

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

Financial Viability: The Public Charge Concern

  • Public Charge: Inability to financially sustain yourself without relying on U.S. benefits.

Legal and Moral Roadblocks: When Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You

  • False Information: Knowingly providing incorrect details on your application.
  • Criminal History: Convictions of aggravated felonies.
  • Moral Character: Lack of good moral character as determined by USCIS.
  • Address and Employment History: Providing incorrect or incomplete histories.
  • Previous Deportations: Having been removed from the U.S. before.
  • Unlawful Presence: Residing in the U.S. without proper authorization, with limited exceptions.

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Immediate Steps to Take After Green Card Denial?

After receiving a green card denial, it’s crucial to consult an immigration attorneys 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. An immigration judge 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.

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.

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.

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.

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