Green Card Denied? These Are the Most Common Reasons

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rejects green card petitions for various reasons, some more common than others.

This article covers some of the most common reasons for green card denial, including what to do if the USCIS denies your petition.

Key Takeaways

  • The USCIS rejects green card petitions due to fraud and misrepresentation, errors in the application, immigration violations, health conditions, etc. Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements, before applying for a permanent residency.
  • Your green card application denial might also occur due to errors by the USCIS. If you believe your petition was wrongfully denied, talk to a lawyer from a reputable immigration law firm.
  • You can find such an attorney from a lawyer referral service.

Fraud or Misrepresentation

Fraud and misrepresentation are the most common reasons for green card denial. The term ‘fraud’ covers a wide range of illegal and fraudulent activities some green card applicants engage in to obtain a green card. Examples of green card fraud include but are not limited to:

  • Counterfeiting
  • Forgery
  • Document alteration
  • Document falsification

On the other hand, misrepresentation refers to the act of willfully deceiving an immigration official to obtain green card benefits. For example, lying that you have never been involved in a crime is a form of misrepresentation. 

National Security Concerns

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will deny your application for a green card if you are considered a threat to national security.

This is usually one of the reasons green card applicants are required to attend a biometric screening process. After obtaining their fingerprints, the USCIS sends these prints to government security agencies for further processing. 

The immigration agency will deny the green card application if the applicant is found to have engaged in terrorist activities, whether in or out of the United States.

The U.S. government will also reject the petition if they establish that the applicant is a member of or involved in Nazi or totalitarian organizations or genocides anywhere in the world. 

Certain Criminal Offenses

The USCIS will reject the application for a green card if it establishes that the petitioner was involved in certain criminal activities. This explains why the USCIS asks petitioners whether they have been involved in any crimes. This question emerges mainly during the initial application.

It is never advisable to lie about your criminal record. Lying could jeopardize your application for a green card. You might lose your current immigration status and face the risk of deportation. Common examples of deportable crimes include: 

  • Domestic violence crimes
  • Firearm offenses
  • Aggravated crimes
  • Crimes of moral turpitude
  • Crimes involving controlled substances  

Government Dependence 

To be approved for a green card, you must prove to the U.S. government that you will not overly depend on them for your well-being. In other words, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself. If not, you must be able to have someone support you, also known as a sponsor. 

This further explains why the USCIS requires green card petitioners to name a sponsor if they do not meet the household income requirements by filing the Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support.

These guidelines change quite often, and it is always advisable to check with the USCIS first before filing the Affidavit of Support. Failure to meet the income requirements could result in green card denial.

Errors in Application

If you make certain errors in your application, you will likely be denied a green card. It is advisable to review your application several times before submitting it to the USCIS. This saves you time and money. In addition, it helps prevent unnecessary delays. 

Wrong Filing Fees

The USCIS will likely reject your petition if you do not pay the correct filing fees. The filing fees vary depending on the nature of your case.

For example, if filing for a marriage green card, you will need to pay around $1760 if you live in the United States and around $1200 if you live outside the country (September 2022). For best results, ensure you understand the fees involved, whether you’re filing directly or via a third party.

Health Conditions

Before being approved for a green card, you will be required to have a medical exam. This exam is usually conducted by a government-approved doctor. The results of the exam could determine whether or not you are eligible for a green card. 

Based on the results of the exam, you may be denied a green card if:

  • you have a communicable disease;
  • you failed to provide enough documentation of the required vaccinations;
  • you have a serious physical or mental disorder that is considered a threat to yourself or others; or
  • you are a drug addict/abuser.

Missing Important Deadlines

The green card application process usually involves specific deadlines. The USCIS might reject your petition if you fail to meet these deadlines.

Therefore, before filing a petition, it is important to ensure that you understand the deadlines involved. Alternatively, you may use a third party to help you with the application process, ensuring that these deadlines are met. 

U.S. Immigration Violations

The USCIS might deny your petition for a green card if you violated certain immigration laws.

For example, if you gained entry into the country through misrepresentation or as a stowaway, you may not be eligible for a green card. The same applies if you violate the terms and conditions of your immigrant visa. 

Missing Immigration Appointments

When you apply for a green card, you will be required to attend certain appointments, such as the biometric screening. The USCIS will likely deny your petition if you miss these appointments.

To avoid this, write down these important dates as soon as you receive the notice from the USCIS. Even better, consider setting reminders on your phone. 

Changing Jobs After Filing Form I-140

Certain individuals may be eligible for employment-based green card benefits. For such individuals, they will need to file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, and get approved.

However, if you file this petition and change jobs, you must meet certain requirements or risk jeopardizing your application.

For example, your Form I-485, an application to register lawful permanent residence or adjustment of status, must have been pending for at least 180 days. 

Form I-485 Processing Time | Read More

Secondly, the new job must be the same as, or similar to, your previous job when you filed Form I-140. 

Mistakes By Immigration Authorities

Because USCIS officials are human, they also make mistakes. Specifically, they might miss a check, misspell your name, misread certain information in your petition, etc. In that case, you may have other options, as discussed below. 

FAQs

What Happens if Your Green Card Application is Denied?

If your green card application was denied and you disagree with the USCIS’s decision, you may be able to file an appeal. You can do this by filling out Form I-120B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, and then paying the filing fees. 

Remember, you must file the appeal within 30 days of the notification of the decision or 33 days if you received the notification via mail. If you choose this option, here are a few things you need to know:

  • You can file Form I-290B only if you are the petitioner of the application.  
  • You may be able to file an appeal if you are both the petitioner and beneficiary (such as a VAWA self-petitioner or a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen).

What Can Disqualify You From Getting a Green Card?

You may be denied a green card for various reasons. To sum up, here are some of the most common reasons for green card denial:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation
  • Mistakes by immigration officials
  • National security concerns
  • Certain criminal offenses
  • Government dependence 
  • Errors in application
  • Wrong filing fees
  • Health conditions
  • Missing important deadlines
  • Immigration violations
  • Changing jobs after filing form I-140
  • Missing immigration appointments

Can You Apply for a Green Card Twice?

Yes, you may be able to apply for a green card twice. The first option is to submit a new application if the initial one gets denied. But before doing this, consider consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. 

This is because the reasons for the initial denial will determine whether it is a good idea to file a new application. The last thing you want is to file a new petition and obtain the same outcome as the previous one. 

Secondly, you may be able to file a new green card application if the previous one was terminated due to abandonment of status. To do this, you will need to follow the standard procedure for applying for a green card based on your eligibility category. 

What Is the Green Card Denial Rate?

The denial rate for U.S. green cards varies depending on the eligibility category and many other factors. Statistics from the USCIS show that green card denial rates have significantly increased over the past few years.

According to a USCIS report, the denial rate for immigration petitions has increased by 37% since 2016. 

Can a Green Card Renewal Be Denied?

The USCIS might deny your green card renewal application for various reasons. When that happens, you may be at risk for deportation.

What Are Some Common Reasons for Green Card Renewal Denial?

The USCIS might reject your green card renewal application if you apply too early. In most cases, the USCIS will accept green card renewal applications filed no earlier than six months before the expiration date. 

The same applies to the conditional green card renewal process. A conditional green card is meant to last for two years. For this reason, the USCIS allows you to renew the application no earlier than 90 days before the expiration date. 

Therefore, if you apply earlier, your application will likely be rejected. Similarly, the USCIS will reject your renewal application if you apply after the green card’s expiration date.

Will My Green Card Renewal Be Denied if I Travel Out of the U.S. Too Much?

Traveling out of the country does not necessarily mean your application for green card renewal will be denied. However, the USCIS will want to establish that the United States is your primary residence.

Therefore, if you intend to stay out of the country for more than six months, you must let the U.S. government know. In that case, you may be able to apply for a reentry permit.

It is important to note that a reentry permit allows you to stay out of the country for two years straight. However, you must also apply for this permit when you are still in the United States, not from out of the country. 

Is My Green Card Also My Reentry Permit? 

Your green card is not your reentry permit. Suppose you stay outside of the United States for more than six months without a reentry permit. In that case, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will likely ask you several questions to establish whether you abandoned your status. 

If the CBP official determines that you abandoned your status, they might refer your case to an immigration judge. 

How Can I Prove That I Did Not Abandon My Status as a Lawful Permanent Resident?

To prove that you did not abandon your status, you must provide evidence of your ties with the United States.

For example, you may need to prove that you own property or business in the United States, have family in the country, bank accounts, employment or studies, or file taxes with the U.S. government. 

Can I Seek Help From an Immigration Lawyer to Renew a Green Card?

Yes, although the green card renewal process might seem easy on paper, it is very complicated. It is even worse if you have certain issues that would jeopardize your petition for various reasons.

For example, if you have a criminal record, you may want to speak with an experienced immigration attorney before filing your petition to renew your green card.

How Much Does It Cost to Renew a Green Card With the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services?

As of 2022, the cost of renewing a green card is $540. This includes a $455 filing fee and an additional $85 for biometrics. The fee might be slightly higher if you use a third party to help renew your green card.

In that case, you may need to pay legal fees and other expenses. Although this option costs more, it significantly increases your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.