When pursuing a green card in the U.S., there is a lot on the line. You have invested time, effort, and money into your immigration path that cannot be replaced if lost. That’s why getting a green card denial can be so devastating. For those that are in the midst of a denial or are looking to avoid one entirely, this post is for you. Take a look at some of the most common reasons for a green card denial and what you can do if you’ve already received that fateful letter.
To understand how and why green card denials happen, we need to understand what the requirements are for these immigrant visas. There are two main categories of green cards, those that are obtained through a sponsoring family member and those that are through a sponsoring employer.
Family-Based Green Cards
To get a family-based green card, you need to have a family member sponsor your visa. That family member needs to be either a U.S. citizen or a green card holder themselves. You will need to prove your relation to this person if you hope to obtain a green card through them.
Also, you can get a green card by marrying a U.S. citizen. These are highly sought-after, since being the spouse of a U.S. citizen makes you an immediate relative and gives you top priority when it comes to family-based green cards. However, due to the potential for abuse, the USCIS will interview you and your spouse to determine if your relationship is legitimate or is just a fraudulent attempt to get a green card.
To get a family-based green card, all you need to do is have your sponsor file an I-130 visa on your behalf along with the filing fees, supporting documents, and evidence of the familial relationship.
Compared to the employment-based green cards, these are relatively straightforward. You are either the relative of a U.S. citizen or green card holder or you’re not. Here are some reasons why your family-based green card might be denied:
- Your relationship to your family member could be considered less than legitimate. This is especially true if you were unable to produce proof of your kinship or you were applying for a marriage-based green card and did poorly during the interview process.
- You were found to have a criminal history that prevented you from being eligible for the green card.
- You had violated the terms of a previous immigration status (such as entering illegally or overstaying to the point of being considered “out of status”)
For the most part, the first reason is the most common. Not everyone has access to birth certificates or marriage licenses in their original form. Without these documents, it can be difficult to prove your relation to the U.S. citizen or green card holder who is sponsoring you. If you do not have the required documents, speak to your immigration attorney before petitioning for the green card to see if you should expect a denial and to evaluate your options.
Additionally, many mistakes are often made during a marriage-based green card interview. Answers that are fabricated or inconsistent raise red flags with immigration officers and could result in your green card being denied. Your attorney can coach you through the interviewing process provided that your relationship truly is legitimate.
Employment-Based Green Cards
These immigrant visas are issued based on your job or occupation. For many of these, you need to have a U.S. employer file your petition on your behalf. However, there are some that allow you to petition for yourself. For those that require an employer, you will need to show that a legitimate employer-employee relationship exists.
Your employer also may need to obtain a PERM Labor Certification for you. This is an involved process that requires your sponsor to run ad campaigns for your job and actively interview potential applicants.
To get an employment-based green card, your sponsor (whether that is you or your employer) will need to file an I-140 along with the necessary fees, supporting documentation, and evidence that can be outlined by your attorney.
Unlike with family-based green cards, these are not as straightforward. There are many different visas and each has differing requirements. Your green card could be denied as a result of a failure to meet any one of these requirements. Here are some of the most common green card denial reasons for the more common visas:
- You do not have enough evidence of extraordinary achievement or outstanding research (EB-1A and EB-1B).
- You are not considered a multinational executive or manager by the standards of the USCIS (EB-1C).
- You do not have enough evidence to support your exceptional ability (EB-2).
- Your work was not deemed to be in the nation’s best interest or you were not deemed qualified to advance that work (EB-2 National Interest Waiver)
- Your work is seasonal and not permanent (EB-3)
- Your investment amount is insufficient or was considered to be acquired through illegal means (EB-5)
- Your PERM may be denied if your employer did not properly carry out the recruitment process.
- Your criminal history made you ineligible for a green card.
- You have violated your immigration status in the past or have otherwise been considered “out of status”, resulting in barring from re-entry.
What to Do If You’ve Received a Green Card Denial
If you do receive that dreaded green card denial notice, there are a few options you might be able to take depending on your situation.
First of all, you may be able to file a legal motion to either have your case reopened or reconsidered. A motion to reopen your case should be done if new evidence or documents have become available and may change the outcome of the case were it to be reopened.
A motion to reconsider is done when you and your attorney believe that the evaluating officer was in error concerning the decision made on your case and you can present a solid legal argument for a reversal of the decision to deny your green card.
Alternatively, you may also be able to file an appeal to a third party to re-evaluate the decision, the Administrative Appeals Office. However, the AAO has a long track record of siding with the evaluating officer in green card denial cases.
In any case, you should never attempt to utilize any of these complicated legal methods without the help of a qualified immigration attorney.
Is There A Difference Between Rejection and Denial?
Yes. In the world of immigration law, terms that seem synonymous often have very specific meanings. In this case, denial and rejection, though they are very similar words, relate to different things.
When the USCIS is processing your green card petition, they take a two-pronged approach. The first prong involved having an officer look over your case to see if all of the required information is present and consistent on your petition, that you have the necessary supporting evidence and documents, and that the appropriate fee was paid. If your petition fails any of these checks, it will likely be rejected (though you may be issued a Request for Evidence if you lack documentation).
If your petition passes the first prong, it will go onto the second, where the officer will adjudicate your case to determine whether or not it merits a green card. If your petition fails this stage, then it will likely be denied.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Receiving a visa denial of any kind can be devastating, especially if you have plans or family in the U.S. that you may be separated from through this process. On top of that, a denial means that the time and cost that were invested into your green card are gone. If you have received a green card denial or would like to avoid one, the best thing you can do is to hire an attorney to help you take the next steps.
Here at SGM Law Group, we have helped countless people like yourself explore successful options in the wake of a green card denial. To make sure you are making the best decisions regarding your case, you can fill out our contact form and we’ll schedule your consultation.