Thousands of people enter the United States with lawful permanent residence each year.

But, the U.S. government also denies thousands of green card applications due to various possible factors, such as entering the United States illegally and similar violations of the U.S. immigration laws. A new policy broadens the powers of U.S. immigration officials to deny green card applications without first issuing a warning.

Even if your green card application is free of red flags, it is common that the application process makes applicants anxious. But, it is important to keep in mind that USCIS’s interest and goal are not to deny your application. Instead, they aim to ensure that eligible couples with genuine marriages can obtain green cards and live together in the U.S., but also prevent others from misusing the immigration rights.

Family Based Green Card Overview

Family-based green cards have two major components:

  1. The U.S. family member files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, in order to establish a qualifying relationship with the green card applicant
  2. With an approved I-130 petition and the availability of an immigrant visa, the foreign national applies for the green card either through:
    • Consular processing or adjustment of status, if he or she applies for a green card outside the U.S. at a U.S. embassy or consulate
    • Adjustment of Status, if he or she applies for a green card while inside the U.S., using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, or adjust status.

Green Card Eligibility Requirements

Green Card Eligibility Requirements

U.S. immigration law defines eligibility for a family-based green card.

This means that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can apply for a green card for a limited list of family members. In other words, they can petition only for the following family members:

  • U.S. citizens can apply for a green card for spouse, children, brother, sister, or parents.
  • A lawful permanent resident may only petition a spouse or unmarried son or daughter.

Immediate Relatives

Immigrant visas for immediate relatives are always available, but the process will most likely take several months. The immediate relative categories include a spouse of a U.S. citizen, an unmarried child under 21 years of age, and an adopted orphan or a parent of a U.S. citizen.

Petitioning a relative with an adoptive relationship

The adoption process must have taken place before the child is 16. All U.S. immigration rules governing natural parents and children also apply to adoptive relatives.

Still, there are some additional procedures to follow when petitioning a relative with an adoptive relationship, so it is recommended in this case to consult your immigration attorney.

Petitioning Fiancé(e)

If your fiancé(e) is a foreigner and you want to sponsor his or her marriage based green card, you can get married outside the U.S., and then your foreign spouse may apply as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.

But if your fiancé is overseas and you want to get married in the U.S., you must apply for a nonimmigrant visa called a K-1 fiancé visa first. After marriage in the permitted 90-day period, your spouse will be able to adjust status to permanent resident.

Reasons For a Green Card Denial

Marriage based green card and family based green card applications have a relatively high approval rate. Still, it doesn’t mean that USCIS never deny them. As we mention, the reasons the U.S. government, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S. consulate abroad, might deny an immigrant visa or green card are various, but most commonly, you can find the following reasons for green card application denial:

  • USCIS or your error
  • Concern that you are a security risk,
  • Inadmissibility for criminal or health reasons
  • Finding that you are likely to become reliant on government assistance, etc.

Top 10 Reasons for The Green Card Denial

#Ineligibility or Not Meeting Application Requirements

Even if you double checked that you fit an eligibility category, a ground of inadmissibility can cause a green card denial of your application. Besides spies and terrorists that will face application denial for certain, ordinary people with specific ailments and financial situations can also get denied. In other words, b filing numerous immigration forms, you have to demonstrate that you don’t pose a danger to U.S. society on financial, health, security, immigration violation, or criminal grounds. Read the instructions carefully and provide what is requested.


You or your spouse must provide the medical exam report for admission as a lawful permanent resident performed by a government-approved doctor.

If your results are not satisfactory, it can lead to a denial of your green card based on inadmissibility. This can be a case if:

  1. You are determined to have a communicable disease dangerous to the public
  2. You have failed to provide documentation of receiving the required vaccinations and have refused to, or you couldn’t have them done before your green card can be approved
  3. You are a drug abuser or addict

You have a physical or mental disorder that threatens yourself or others.

#Criminal Record

You will undoubtedly run into problems if you have committed certain crimes (aggravated felonies, crimes of “moral turpitude,” multiple crimes, prostitution, money laundering, fraud, drug trafficking, or acts of terrorism) or if the U.S. government suspects that you are coming to the U.S. to commit them. In some instances, a waiver may be available, but you should contact an immigration lawyer for assistance in this case.

On the green card application forms you need to fill out (DS-260 if you are applying from outside the U.S.; Form I-485, the application to adjust status, if you are applying from within the U.S.), you will need to answer a number of questions. Be honest because government officials have other methods to conduct the background check, but remember that answering positively to one of these questions without a proper explanation could lead to a denial of your green card.

#Security Related

If the U.S. government officials suspect that you are entering the country to violate U.S. security laws, such as engaging in terrorist efforts; or former involvement or membership in the Nazi or totalitarian parties, genocide, or any group adverse to U.S. foreign policy, this can be a firm reason for a denial of your green card.

#Public Charge

If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS officers or the consular officers consider you that you will probably become dependent on the U.S. government for long-term care or financial support, and they will deny your green card application. The public charge is considered by assessing your age, education or skills, health, family status, resources, assets, and financial status at the time of filing.

You can avoid this by having someone who will sign an affidavit of support for you or if you are in the class of immigrants who do not need an affidavit of support filed on their behalf.

#Immigration Violations

Immigration authorities will conduct the background check to see your immigration history. If they find that you have overstayed a visa by six months or more or have ever entered the country unlawfully (sneaking in as a stowaway, gaining entry by misrepresentation, failing to attend immigration removal proceedings, or having abused the visa process by violating the terms and conditions of your visa), you can expect that your green card application will be denied. Immediate relatives in the U.S. can generally file adjustment of status application after an overstay.

#Denial of Underlying Visa Petition

If your intended grounds for filing a green card application are employment-based, your sponsor will have to file a petition on Form I-140. If your intended grounds are family-based, your sponsor will file a Form I-130 petition.

In both cases, if the petition is denied, it will cause the denial of your green card as well.

#Changing Jobs After Filing I-140 Form

If you have an approved I-140 visa petition and you change employers, you would have to meet specific requirements for your green card application to continue processing:

  • Your I-485 form must have been pending for 180 days or more
  • Your new job must be similar to the position described in the labor certification and I-140 petition.

#Having no access to enough financial resources

If a green card applicants can’t support themselves, this measure helps to ensure that they won’t depend on government assistance. Generally, this ground can be overcome by submitting Form I-864 for a family-based application. The U.S. citizen or green card holder sponsoring a spouse or a relative must prove sufficient financial resources to support the spouse. USCIS generally requires that sponsoring spouses earn at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Level. This is usually established by providing copies of the federal income tax returns and/or recent pay stubs.

The alternatives for demonstrating sufficient financial resources are income from the sponsoring spouse’s household members, assets in place of income, or financial co-sponsorship by a family member or friend.

#Failing to establish a valid and authentic marriage

The essential part of the marriage green card application is proving that spouses have a legally recognized marriage and authentic relationship.

To prove that marriage is valid, USCIS will need to see a copy of a marriage certificate in straightforward cases. However, there are many ways that this can become more complicated, such as situations where one of the spouses was married previously and has difficulties proving that the marriage ended by providing divorce, death and marriage certificates for any prior spouse.

To establish that the marriage is authentic, it also has to be free of any suspicion that a marriage is made solely to get a green card. You can reassure immigration officers by providing evidence of your relationship and your life together.

After Green Card Application Denial: Filing an Appeal or Motion to Reopen

If your green card application is denied, you can go through the appeal process which includes asking the Administrative Appeals Office to review your case and determine whether immigration agency was wrong in denying your green card application. Still, many immigration lawyers would advise you to refile the application since appealing a decision can cost more time and money.

Adjustment of Status

If you filed your adjustment of status application from inside the U.S., you could file Form I-290B with government agency to appeal the denied green card application.

You have to file the appeal within 30 days of the notification of the decision and the applicable filing fee by clearly stating that you are filing a motion to reopen and the basis of this motion.

Consular Processing

If you applied for a green card outside the U.S., you would have to ask the principal consular officer to review your case. If the principal officer desires, he

Why You Should Hire An Immigration Attorney?

When you need help with green card application process, preparing different kind of immigration forms, or dealing with different complex scenarios and immigration laws, you need the legal services of an experienced immigration attorney.

Any mistake in your green card application package and breach of immigration law can affect your petition on a case-by-case basis and prevent you from getting a green card.

Herman Legal Group law firm has over 26 years of experience with the most experienced immigration attorneys who offer quality immigration services.

You can schedule a consultation with our immigration lawyer via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, or Facetime, or you can decide to visit our law firm to discuss your case. You can contact us via +1-216-696-6170. If you prefer to speak with the immigration lawyer Richard Herman, you can also book your consultation online.

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