Why Would My Green Card Application Be Denied?

During the green card application process, there are many documents that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) require as part of the application process to help them prove that the applicant is eligible for the green card.

However, there are several reasons why the green card could be denied. Some of these reasons may be related to insufficient information provided in the applications, while others may be as a result of certain issues that render the applicant inadmissible.

If you are about to apply for a marriage-based green card, for example, this article may help you identify all possible red flags that may cause your green card to be denied. It breaks down some of the top reasons that lead to the denial of green card applications by the USCIS.

Evidence Of Authenticity Of The Marriage

A marriage-based green card relies on the authenticity of the couple’s relationship and the legality of their marriage. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires a lot of documentation as proof of a bona fide marriage.

The couple may also go through an interview for the same reason. The USCIS recognizes marriages that have been celebrated abroad, as long as they are considered legal at the place the marriage was celebrated. A marriage certificate is a good example of document that is used as proof of marriage.

Here are examples of information that may be provided by a marriage certificate.

Previous Marriages Of The Spouses

The law requires that the spouses must be legally free to marry. This means that the couple must ensure that their previous marriages have been completely terminated before marrying each other. If the couple gets married before the termination of their previous marriages, if any, the USCIS will not recognize their marriage as legally valid. To prove that the couple is legally free to marry, documents such as divorce papers, annulments, and death certificates can be provided as evidence.

Same-Sex Marriages Conducted In A Country That Does Not Legalize It

Only a few countries approve same-sex marriages. If a same-sex couple decides to get married in a country that does not recognize this type of marriage, the USCIS will not consider their marriage as legally valid.

The best option for such a couple is to apply for a K1 visa that allows the foreign spouse to enter the United States for the purposes of marrying their U.S. citizen spouse within 90 days. That way, the couple will be provided with a legal marriage certificate.

Also, it is worth noting that the U.S. government recognizes same-sex marriages as legal. Alternatively, such a couple may seek legal advice from an attorney before getting married in a foreign country.

Your Marriage Is Not Valid According To The Country Where It Was Celebrated

A marriage is bound by the laws of the jurisdiction where it was conducted. If that jurisdiction does not allow such a marriage, the USCIS will also disallow it. This may be the case, if a couple from different religions gets married in a country that prohibits inter-religion marriages.

Evidence Of A Bona Fide Marriage

The USCIS will also scrutinize the relationship to ascertain that the marriage was not solely done for the purpose of getting a green card. There are so many supporting documents that the applicants can submit as proof of a bona fide marriage such as joint financial statements.

The couple must provide sufficient evidence to convince the USCIS that their marriage is bona fide. U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services offers guidelines of what it considers as strong evidence and a weak one. Before you submit your application, you may need to countercheck your supporting documents for a bona fide marriage against the USCIS guidelines.

Errors In The Application Papers

Marriage-based green card applicants must be careful when filling the application forms. Some common errors and inconsistencies in the information provided may lead to green card denial. Here are a few example of some of these errors:

Untranslated Documents

The USCIS requires that all legal documents that are submitted as part of the application must be in English. If the documents are in any other language other than English, they need to be translated into English by a certified translator.

The translator must also provide a certification statement declaring that their translation is accurate and complete in order to prove their competency in translation. Both the translated documents and the original documents must be attached to green card applications. If there are errors made in this process, the green card application may be rejected.

Incomplete Forms

All questions in the application forms must be answered. In sections that are are not applicable to the applicant, they should be replaced with ‘N/A’ instead of being left blank. Completing the forms also require that all the necessary signatures are appended in the right places of the document.

Photo Requirements

The U.S. government has specific requirements for the passport photos that should be used for these applications. The standardization of the photos is meant to help the USCIS official clearly describe the physical features of the applicants for easy identification. If you file an application without clear photos, the USCIS may deny it.

Lack Of Sufficient Evidence Of Financial Resources

Another integral part of a green card application is proof of financial stability. The applicants must be able to show that they have sufficient funds to take care of themselves while living in the United States.

The sponsoring spouse of a marriage-based green card may invite other people as co-sponsors to help them boost their financial resources in order to meet the stipulated Federal Poverty Guidelines. The federal guidelines require that the sponsoring spouse meets 125% of the guidelines for normal United States citizens, and 100% for U.S citizens in active duty (for example, military and navy).

If an applicant has no proof of sufficient financial resources, they are considered inadmissible because they are likely to become a public charge. A public charge is a person who primarily depends on the government for their sustenance or primary sources of basic needs such as food and shelter.

Insufficient Financial Resources From Co-Sponsors

The sponsoring spouse may add the income of their household members to help them reach the required financial threshold. If these additions do not meet the financial threshold, the green card application might be denied.

Lack Of Approval By The Financial Supporters

Any person whose income and assets have been listed to sponsor the green card application must approve of it by signing the relevant documents. Without the consent of the individuals listed as co-sponsors, the USICS may suspect foul play and deny the application.

A co-sponsor is required to file a separate Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. The co-sponsor is also required to meet the federal poverty level, same as the primary sponsor.

Non-Eligibility For Green Card Application

There are some foreigners who are not eligible for a green card application while in the U.S. This is mostly because, there are some non-immigrant visa types that have strict rules regarding what a person is allowed to do while in the U.S. Here are examples:

Tourist Visas or Visa Waiver Program

If you enter the U.S. via a tourist visa, the Customs and Border Protection officer may ask you several questions to clearly understand and verify your intentions of visiting the U.S. A tourist visa or a Visa Waiver Program does not allow a foreigner to apply for a green card in less than 90 days during their stay in the US.

The U.S immigration officials may see this action as planned, and that the information given to the CBP was wrong. The visa may be denied on the basis of the applicant’s violation of immigration laws.

Undocumented Immigrants Or Illegal Immigrants

Foreigners who entered the United States illegally are not eligible to file a green card application from inside the United States. The foreigner can apply for a green card from their home country, but first, they will need to apply for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver to the USCIS. The waiver is a request to the U.S. government to waive the inadmissibility of the applicant before they go back to their country to apply for a green card.

Foreigners On Removal Proceedings

A foreigner with a removal case in the U.S. is not eligible for a green card application. Removable Proceedings are immigration cases held to determine the removability of a foreigner under the U.S. immigration law.

K-l Visa Holder Marrying A Different Partner

The K1 visa allows a foreign national to travel to the United States for the purposes of getting married to their U.S. citizen spouse. If the foreign national marries someone else other than their sponsoring spouse, they will not be eligible for a green card application. In such a case, the green card could be denied.

Other Reasons For A Green Card Denial

There are other reasons that render a family-based green card applicant inadmissible and ineligible for the U.S. green cards. Some of these reasons are discussed below:

Criminal Records

A criminal record showing minor offenses may not cause any alarms for the immigration officers. However, certain criminal records that pose risks to national security such as charges of murder, human trafficking, child abuse, and rape may be considered inadmissible. There are different rules that govern the eligibility of the sponsoring spouses and the green card applicants with regards to criminal records.

Sponsoring Spouse’s Criminal Record

The USCIS conducts a background security check for the criminal records of the sponsoring spouse to determine whether they are eligible for sponsoring a foreign spouse. Here are some offenses against a minor that will automatically disqualify a U.S. citizen from sponsoring a green card applicant:

  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual misconduct against a child
  • Engaging a child in prostitution
  • Using the internet for child exploitation
  • Child pornography
  • False imprisonment of a child

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act has outlined such offenses which are now adopted in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Green Card Seekers’ Criminal Records

A person seeking a U.S. green card is subjected to questions based on their criminal records, if any, for the U.S. government to ensure that they do not admit a person who could be a national threat. If the foreigner is already in the United States, the USICS will also need to establish their record with the law enforcement in the country. Bad police records are reasons enough for the denial of a green card application.

A foreign national is termed as ineligible for green card application on grounds of three criminal convictions. These are aggravated felonies such as murder, illegal drug crimes such as drug trafficking, and crimes involving morality, such as fraud.

Medical Concerns

Green card applicants are required to undergo a medical examination from a certified medical practitioner recommended by the U. S government. The applicant may be ineligible for a green card application if they have any of the following health conditions:

  • Physical or mental disorder
  • History of drug abuse
  • Communicable diseases
  • If you refuse to receive a vaccination on religious grounds

Misinformation And Lies

Lies and misinformation of any kind during a green card application are considered fraud that may render you ineligible for a green card. Misinformation may range from document forgery, giving the wrong address, concealing relevant information, and inconsistencies in the application.

Failure To Attend Scheduled Appointments

It is important to attend the appointments scheduled by the USCIS, such as biometrics appointments. If you cannot attend the scheduled appointments for various genuine reasons, you may reschedule them early enough. If you ignore such appointments, you may be denied a green card.

Waiver Of Inadmissibility Due To Crime

Even though a person may be regarded as inadmissible by the US government, there are special occasions when a marriage-based green card applicant may be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility.

If the applicants qualify for the waiver, they are required to file Form I-160, Waiver on Grounds of Inadmissibility. However, not all crimes committed may be forgiven by law, even though the perpetrator was never convicted for it.

Crimes Committed By Green Card Applicant That May Be Waivered

Here are some of the crimes committed by a green card applicant that may be waivered:

  • Moral turpitude-related crimes except for murder and torture.
  • A single crime related to possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Two convictions with a combined sentence of five years or more
  • Prostitution or commercialized vice
  • If you claim immunity for a crime you committed and left the U.S. before prosecution

Crimes Committed By A Green Card Applicant That Cannot Be Waivered

Here are crimes committed that do not qualify for a waiver:

  • Any drug-related offenses other than simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Murder
  • Human torture
  • Human trafficking
  • Money Laundering
  • Drug trafficking
  • Terrorism
  • Child Abuse

How To Know If You Are Eligible For A Waiver For Crimes

You may qualify for a waiver if you belong to only one of the categories below:

  • The crime committed relates to prostitution unless it involves the violation of security. You will need to prove to the U.S. government that you have abandoned that practice and that you have been rehabilitated.
  • It has been over 15 years since you committed the crime and you have been rehabilitated
  • You are a self-petitioner for the Violence Against Women Act
  • Your qualifying relative will undergo extreme hardship if you do not get admission into the U.S. For example your spouse or child.

Waiver Of Inadmissibility Due To Medical Concerns

If you are inadmissible on grounds of having a communicable disease, you will need to be one of the following to be eligible for a waiver;

  • A qualifying family member of a U.S citizen or a lawful permanent resident
  • A person qualifying as a self-petitioning spouse or child
  • Fiancé of a U.S citizen
  • A child of Fiancé of a U.S Citizen

You must show that the qualifying member will experience extreme hardship if you are not admitted into the U.S.; For example, medical hardship and education hardship.

If you are inadmissible on grounds of refusing vaccination, you may apply for a waiver. Your medical examination records showing vaccination history will be examined before a decision is made.

If you are inadmissible on grounds of mental disorder, you may apply for a waiver. You will have to provide evidence that your condition does not cause you any harm to you or your surrounding.