The easiest way to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States is through marriage. Once you have a bona fide marriage with a U.S. citizen, you have legitimate grounds to apply for and obtain a marriage-based green card.
However, this route of obtaining a green card is also the most screened by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. That’s because the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) understands that many people get married to boycott the U.S. immigration law.
Thus, if it happens that the USCIS officer in charge of your immigration case denied your green card based on suspicion of marriage fraud, what’s next? The next stages following the green card denial are tough; it is easier if you already reside in the U.S.
Keep reading this article to find out what you can do if the USCIS denies your green card application. We recommend hiring a law firm or immigration attorney to guide you, helping you understand why you were denied, among other things.
What Happens if My Marriage Green Card Application is Denied?
The USCIS grants adjustment of status at its discretion, meaning it doesn’t just grant it to anyone. In other words, a marriage certificate doesn’t automatically give you a “right” to a marriage-based green card.
As such, if your application is denied, you can either appeal the decision in court or reapply. However, depending on the basis of the denial, you may get another chance to make your case for adjustment of status.
For example, if you don’t have any other legal status in the country, like temporary employment or student visa. You will (or should) receive an NTA (Notice to Appear) following the denial of your application.
The NTA summons you to present yourself in Immigration Court for removal proceedings – also known as deportation. At the court, you get an opportunity to renew your application and present the same I-485 without needing to file a new petition.
How Often Are Marriage Green Cards Denied?
The approval rate of marriage green cards is higher than the denial rates, although that doesn’t mean they never get denied. Even in a straightforward green card application that’s free of red flags, these immigration applications get thorough scrutiny.
The USCIS’s goal is to ensure genuinely married and eligible couples can live together in the United States. We wouldn’t say it is rare, but the chances of your marriage green card application getting denied depend on you.
The first thing is ensuring you don’t enter marriage to boycott the U.S. immigration law, which is punishable by law. Then, when you file your petition, you need to establish that your marriage is valid and authentic – it must be legally recognized. In the most uncomplicated cases, the USCIS will request a copy of your marriage certificate, which can get complicated.
For instance, the USCIS will not consider your marriage valid if it is not legally recognized in the place where you were married. This case particularly applies to unconventional marriage situations like same sex marriages and virtual marriages.
What Can You Do if the USCIS Denies Your Marriage Green Card Application?
You can hire an attorney to help you appeal the decision in court because they fully understand the court proceedings.
Below are steps you can take in appealing the denial of your marriage-based green card application in court:
- Tell the judge the adjustment of status you seek is for relief from removal at your Master Calendar Hearing.
- The immigration judge will set a date when you must provide all paperwork to the court and government attorney. A date will also be set for your merits hearing, which is your chance to plead your case.
- Provide copies of your I-485 and supporting evidence with receipt notice of your Forms I-797 to the Immigration Court and government attorney.
- If you have more evidence you couldn’t present the first time, now’s your chance to supply it. Ensure the government attorney gets every document you file; you can also bring witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- Present your case with evidence at your individual hearing; a U.S. government attorney will also cross examine you. The judge may also ask questions after which they will consider and decide on your application, which may be an approval or denial.
Can Someone Get Deported If the Green Card is not Processed If Married to U.S. Citizen?
The straight answer is yes; you can get deported if your green card is not processed even if you’re married to a U.S. citizen. Over 10% of individuals who are deported from the U.S. are lawful permanent residents, which can be for different reasons.
The two most common reasons are if you don’t meet all the criteria for a green card and for criminal reasons. Being married to a U.S. citizen doesn’t automatically grant you access to a green card or necessarily secure you from deportation.
To get a marriage green card, fulfill all the criteria, including lawful entry into the U.S. and having a real marriage. If you don’t meet the conditions of your conditional permanent residence, you won’t be granted a permanent resident card.
If your marriage ends before the statutory two years for conditional permanent residency expires, you’ll be deported.
What If Your Spouse’s Immigrant Visa (Green Card is Denied)?
If your spouse’s immigrant visa was denied at the U.S. consular processing, no direct appeal is available. Your best bet would be to hire an experienced attorney who will request an advisory opinion on the case. Then, they’ll use whatever they get to request the consulate to grant the immigrant visa.
We recommend hiring an experienced immigration attorney because this process can be long and complicated, no thanks to the slow-moving pace of the immigration system.
However, if your spouse has an unlawful presence in the U.S. (that is, without a valid visa), they may be placed into removal proceedings after the denial.
They will appear before the Immigration Court where they’ll present the entire application to an immigration judge. They will testify and, if they want to, call witnesses to persuade the judge to grant the green card.
Why Would My Green Card Application Be Denied?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services deny green card applications for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- You don’t qualify or are ineligible to apply for the green card in the first place.
- You missed your immigration interview or any other required appointment for your green card application process.
- You missed your response deadline for your RFE, which may be because your mailing address changed.
- There were errors or mistakes in your application – for example, you didn’t provide translations for the documents you submitted or information was missing. It may be because your fees don’t cover the entire cost of applying for a green card. It could also be an issue with the signatures provided on any relevant green card application form.
- A green card application denial may also be a USCIS or consulate processing error – for example, they lost your documents or misspelled your name.
What Characterizes Eligibility to Apply for the Green Card?
The eligibility requirements for applying for a green card depend on the particular type of green card you’re applying for. The best way to be sure if you’re eligible is to visit the official USCIS website for more information.
Generally, you’re eligible to apply for a green card if you meet the following criteria:
- You have close relatives who are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents,
- You’re in the U.S. on an employment visa and you have a U.S. employer sponsoring you,
- You’re a special foreign national or have refugee or asylee status,
- You’re a victim of a crime such as human trafficking,
- You’ve been in the United States since before January 1, 1972.
- You are legally and genuinely married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
How Can You Avoid Your Marriage Green Card Getting Denied by the USCIS?
You can avoid having your marriage-based green card denied by taking the right steps from the start. First, ensure you file the right forms and documentation appropriately, which will require that you clearly understand your case.
Furthermore, you must prepare for the interview stage; this is a very important aspect – your documents and oral testament must tally. To make things easier, you may want to go through the application with the help of an immigration lawyer.
What Can Cause the Denial of Marriage-Based Green Card?
Marriage-Based Green Cards can be denied if the immigration officer assesses your case and finds it lacking in important areas.
Below are issues that may result in the denial of a marriage green card application:
- You didn’t prove the legitimacy of your marriage; you must convince the USCIS that your marriage is bona fide and not a fraudulent union.
- You filled the wrong form at any stage of the application process – or you missed, omitted, or provided incorrect or inconsistent information on the forms.
- You didn’t file the right fees; there’s a fee for every marriage green card form, which you must submit with the form.
- As a petitioning spouse, you didn’t prove that you have sufficient income to support the green card applicant once they enter the U.S.
- The immigration medical examination conducted on you by the USCIS or embassy-designated physician deems you unfit for the green card.
What If Your Marriage-Based Green Card Is Denied: What Can You Do?
Immigration law provides avenues for dealing with a denied green card application, which can involve filing an appeal or motion. You may file an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals or USCIS Administrative Appeals Office, which means you’re requesting a third-party intervention.
You need to submit the appeal within thirty days after the decision was issued as shown on the decision notice. If well-filled, your request can be reviewed by the AAO within six months, although it is rarely in favor of the applicant.
You may also file a motion to the same office to reopen or reconsider the decision based on new facts or incorrect law applications. You can use the I-1290B form to file the motion; most motions get adjudicated within ninety days.
Can Filing an Appeal or Motion Result in an Approval?
Filing an appeal or motion does not constitute acceptance or guarantee that the decision on your green card application by the immigration office will change. Also, it doesn’t delay the already issued USCIS green card denial decision from taking effect. That means, if you’re already facing deportation proceedings, the motion or appeal cannot delay them or extend the date.
While there are success stories regarding motions and appeals, we recommend not getting to that stage in the first place. Nevertheless, if you do find yourself at the appeal or motion stage, you may want to first discuss it with your immigration lawyer. The lawyer issue is one applicant should take seriously as a good attorney with a rich immigration history will help review your application and ensure you don’t have any criminal record that can vitiate the process.
Herman Legal Group Can Help You When USCIS Denies Your Green Card Application
Trying to apply for a green card or adjustment of status is not an easy process as there is a possibility that USCIS may deny your application, especially when certain documents like birth certificates, proof of bona fide marriage, and other vital documents are absent.
While it is possible to file an appeal when your application for permanent resident status on the grounds of marriage is denied, it is best not to get that, and one way to avoid that is to get the best attorney advertising from an immigration attorney.
At Herman Legal Group, we have seasoned immigration attorneys who handle cases relating to marriage fraud, and have good contact with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the state department’s visa office. These lawyers know everything about the green card interview and what constitutes acceptance for foreign nationals who are seeking lawful permanent residence via marriage. Most importantly, you can be sure of a confidential relationship when you work with Herman Legal Group.
To hire the services of an immigration lawyer from our reputable law firm, you can schedule a consultation by calling +1-800-808-4013 or +1-216-696-6170 and have it done virtually through Facetime, Skype, Zoom, or in-office. For direct consultation with Richard Herman, you can book online noting that message and data rates apply.
When applying for a marriage-based green card, you will need to provide sensitive or confidential information on your current marriage as well as pay legal fees, and that’s why you need an immigration lawyer who understands the workings of immigration authorities. Failure to do these may result in getting denied, especially if you don’t have a good attorney client relationship.
Couples often enter marriages for immigration benefits, which the US immigration officials recognize and thus conduct thorough investigation on the marriage-based green card application process before they adjust status. We recommend that both you and your citizen spouse have an immigration lawyer talk you through the process.
If couples commit immigration fraud or visa fraud, they’ll be discovered by the USCIS through investigation or other automated technology. The rationale behind this is that fraudulent status application is like communicable disease that will continue to spread if not effectively contained. The USCIS immigration officer has a right to free evaluation of your marital relationship, including ransacking pre-recorded messages, among other things.