Why Did My Green Card Application Get Denied?
Of the 9.2 million immigrants in the U.S., less than 1 million apply for U.S. residence on a yearly basis. There are countless barriers that can make it difficult and even impossible for non-citizens to obtain lawful U.S. residence. Even those who ultimately succeed often find themselves in limbo, as U.S. immigration processes can be both perplexing and time-consuming.
It can take a while to hear back regarding your petition for a green card, visa, or other form of U.S. citizenship. For those who receive the disappointing news that their application was rejected, it’s easy to feel discouraged, helpless, and confused. Why was your petition denied? Is there something you could have done differently? More concerningly, what are your next steps?
There are various reasons why green card applications get denied. Keep reading to learn more about U.S. immigration requirements and how you can continue forward in the process of lawful U.S. residence.
Green Card Eligibility Requirements
Some people are automatically ineligible for a green card regardless of their decision to apply. It's important to understand which circumstances made you inadmissible to avoid wasting your time with paperwork and instead explore other options.
To meet the eligibility requirements for a green card, an applicant must qualify as one of the following:
- You have a close relative who is a U.S. permanent resident or citizen.
- You’re sponsored by a U.S. employer.
- You’re a special immigrant.
- You have a refugee or asylum status.
- You are a victim of human trafficking or other qualifying crime.
- You are a victim of abuse.
- You’ve resided in the U.S. since January 1, 1972.
7 Possible Reasons Why Your Green Card Was Denied
U.S. immigration laws can feel like a lot of hoops to jump through. Not only can the required paperwork and forms be difficult to wade through, but it can also be challenging to collect, organize, and submit sufficient evidence to strengthen your case.
Understanding why the USCIS denies petitions can be an effective way to set yourself up for success. If you can diagnose the issue at hand, you may be able to resolve things and obtain the results you desire. Keep reading to learn 7 possible reasons why your green card application was denied.
#1. You have a health issue.
Non-citizens wishing to obtain U.S. residence are required to undergo a medical exam facilitated by a U.S. government-appointed physician. In some instances, your medical report may disqualify your application for a green card.
Being rejected on the grounds of your health exam can occur when:
- You’re determined to have a communicable disease.
- You lack or refuse to receive mandatory vaccines.
- You’re a drug addict or substance abuser.
- You have a mental or physical condition that makes you a threat to yourself and/or others.
#2. Your criminal record makes you inadmissible.
While having a criminal record doesn't automatically rule you out as a green card applicant, certain crimes can result in automatic inadmissibility. These include crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMTs).
CIMTs are considered depraved, vile, and/or offensive to a person’s moral compass. Examples include (but aren’t limited to):
- Spousal abuse
- Child abuse
Other disqualifying crimes can include drug crimes, human trafficking, money laundering, or having multiple offenses on your criminal record.
#3. You’re considered a national security threat.
If the U.S. government suspects that you were involved in terrorist efforts, were formerly involved in totalitarian parties or genocide, or otherwise pose a threat to national security, you may be inadmissible to the United States.
#4. You’re considered a public charge.
If your income is too low, you risk inadmissibility to the U.S. as a “public charge.” A public charge is considered a person who receives one or more government benefits. The USCIS will assess certain factors to determine the risk of an applicant becoming dependent on the U.S. government for support, including:
- Family status
- Education or skills
- Financial status
- Lack of health insurance
Factors that make you less likely to be ruled out as a public charge include:
- Having a signed affidavit of support from a family member
- You’re being sponsored by an employer or relative
- You’re in an immigrant class that doesn’t require affidavits of support
#5. You made a mistake on your application.
Given the extensive paperwork and forms required to obtain lawful U.S. residence, it’s no surprise that mistakes can be inevitable. When possible, it’s ideal to have a qualified immigration attorney review all of your forms, documentation, and other evidence with a practiced legal eye to ensure that all requirements are completed accurately, on time, and in their entirety.
Additionally, it’s crucial to be aware of common mistakes made on immigration petitions, such as:
- Leaving sections empty. It’s important to make sure that all questions and blanks in your application are filled out. If a section doesn’t apply to you, simply write “N/A” (not applicable). It’s beneficial to do a final scan or two after completion to ensure you didn’t miss any required signatures, as this can result in your application being denied.
- Failure to provide English translations. Under U.S. immigration law, all non-English documents and text must be translated into English prior to submission. Consider having a certified translator review any translations before you send the application, as they can prevent key mistakes that may result in your petition being denied.
- Not following photograph guidelines. It’s essential to adhere to photograph guidelines when you include your photograph. Generally, photos are held to the same standard as passport photos, meaning that your photo should: 1) be a color photo taken in the last 6 months; 2) clearly show your face without sunglasses or eyeglasses; 3) be taken against a clear white or off-white background without shadows, textures, or lines. Keep in mind that selfies are not acceptable.
- Not providing sufficient evidence with the application. It’s important to include sufficient evidence and relevant documentation with your application. You’ll likely need to include documents or copies of documents like your marriage certificate, birth certificate, divorce decree, and so on.
- Missing the deadline. If you wish for your petition to be considered, make sure you complete the application accurately and in its entirety, collect appropriate evidence, and submit everything by or before the deadline.
#6. You have prior immigration violations.
If you entered the U.S. unlawfully, have prior immigration violations, failed to attend removal proceedings, or otherwise abused the U.S. immigration process, you may be ineligible for a green card.
#7. You failed to attend an immigration appointment.
There are additional steps that applicants are required to take after filing their green card application, including (but not limited to):
- Fingerprinting appointment. Applicants will be scheduled by USCIS to attend a fingerprinting appointment.
- Interview appointment. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to attend an interview appointment (this is especially relevant if you’re filing overseas).
If you fail to attend your scheduled immigration appointments after filing your petition, your green card application may be rejected.
What Can I Do if My Green Card Was Denied?
If your green card application was rejected, there’s no reason to give up hope. There are various options for immigrants whose application for U.S. residence was denied.
Still, it’s wise to seek counsel from a skilled immigration attorney to determine which legal route is best to take, as the ideal option can vary based on individual circumstances. It’s helpful to have an idea of why you were denied a green card in the first place, as this can influence your next steps.
A qualified immigration lawyer can exercise comprehensive knowledge and legal experience to advise you on which option to pursue. Potential responses to a rejected green card application include:
- Filing a motion to reconsider. This is a commonly chosen path for applicants who suspect they were denied due to an error. Filing a motion to reconsider can allow you to prove that a legal or procedural error led to the rejection of your application.
- Filing a motion to reopen. This solution is typically pursued when new evidence warrants an applicant's case to be reopened. To be successful, an applicant must prove that they were unaware of the new evidence when they originally applied and were unable to submit it with the initial application.
- Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). This is a good course to take if you suspect the USCIS made a procedural error that led to the rejection of your application. Applicants must file Form I-290B with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an AAO officer to reconsider their petition.
- Refile Form I-485. Refiling provides applicants with a fresh start, as it allows them to resubmit Form I-485 with additional evidence to strengthen their case.
- Request reconsideration from a judge. This is a last-resort strategy that, while effective for some, puts applicants at risk of removal. Interested applicants must refile their I-485 form to receive a Notice to Appear. At the hearing, they may make their case to the judge.
Passionate Legal Advocacy for Immigrants in Miami
The U.S. immigration process can be long and frustrating. Whether you’re seeking U.S. residence to reunite with family, escape persecution, discover economic opportunities, or simply start a new life in America, you deserve justice and respect.
Our experienced immigration attorneys are proud to provide reliable legal representation and customized solutions for our clients in Florida. Our firm can collaborate with you to help change your status, avoid removal, file a motion to reconsider or reopen your case, and other aspects of the immigration process.
We’re proud to have a hard-earned reputation for setting honest and straightforward reputations, providing compassionate legal counsel, and making your personal goals our own. When you partner with Hubbs Law, P.A., you’re partnering with skilled legal advocates who will advocate tirelessly on your behalf from start to finish. Don’t wait to make your American dream a reality.
Are you a non-citizen seeking U.S. citizenship? Do you feel trapped in a backlogged immigration process? Our firm is here to help. Call (305) 570-4802 to request a confidential consultation.