Each year, the government allows thousands of people to enter the U.S. to work and live here on a permanent basis. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues them a permanent resident card, which is also known as a green card. The green card really is green!
However, many green card applications are denied. In 2018 alone, USCIS denied nearly 53,000 green cards out of over 835,000 petitions for alien relatives.
Why can your green card application be denied? Below, we will outline the top 10 reasons you could be denied a green card in the United States.
Reasons for a Green Card Application Denial
USCIS can deny a green card application if they determine that the applicant is inadmissible to the U.S. Reasons for a denial range from errors and incomplete application to criminal history or even the lack of required vaccinations. At Ozment Law, we are able to assist clients with filing various applications for waivers of inadmissibility, such as Forms I-212, I-601, I-601A, etc. These waivers, if granted, may prevent an immigrant from being denied in the first place.
USCIS requires each applicant to undergo an immigration medical exam performed by an authorized doctor called a “civil surgeon.” The U.S. government can deny your green card application if the medical exam shows any of the following:
- You do not have the required vaccinations or cannot provide proper documentation showing that you were vaccinated;
- You have a communicable disease;
- You have a physical or mental illness that poses a threat to other people; or
- You are suffering from drug addiction or abuse.
Some people have even been denied at the medical exam because of tattoos. At Ozment Law, our attorneys help prepare applicants for the medical exam so there are hopefully no surprises.
If you have been convicted of specific crimes such as drug trafficking, fraud, money laundering, and others, you may be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. We can consider how a person’s criminal history may affect being able to obtain permanent residence, and our skilled attorneys may recommend postconviction relief or other applications to help remove criminal inadmissibility grounds.
Public Charge Grounds
Your green card can be denied on public charge grounds if USCIS determines that you are likely to depend on public benefits offered by the U.S. government. This is a complicated area of the law that has been expanded in recent years; whether a person is likely to become a public charge is oftentimes determined by a balancing test, taking into account several factors. It is helpful to have a skilled attorney help present an applicant’s case as strongly as possible to demonstrate that the applicant is not likely to become a “public charge.”
Prior Immigration Violations
USCIS will also review your immigration history to determine whether you were deported, if you ever entered the U.S. unlawfully, overstayed a visa, or had any other immigration violations. It is important to note that entering unlawfully, overstaying a visa, or other immigration violations do not necessarily mean the applicant will be denied! It is important to consult a skilled immigration lawyer to determine whether any inadmissibility grounds apply, may be cured, or may be waived through applying for a waiver.
The most frequently seen “bars” are called the 3- and 10-year bars. A person who is illegally present in the United States for more than 180 days but less than one year and who then departs the United States is inadmissible for three years. A person who is illegally present for more than one year and then departs the United States is inadmissible for 10 years. Fortunately, powerful waivers are available to overcome these bars. Furthermore, only unlawful presence accrued in a single stay after April 1, 1997, triggers the bars. There are many things an immigration lawyer will analyze in determining whether such a bar may apply; even the definition of “unlawful presence” can be an issue in some cases!
National Security Concerns
You are likely to get your visa application denied if you have engaged in terrorist activities, are involved or affiliated with a terrorist group or criminal organization, or otherwise present a threat to the country’s national security.
Fraud or Willful Misrepresentation
Willfully and knowingly misrepresenting facts in your green card application, such as using a fake alien registration, can be considered fraud and may give USCIS grounds to deny your application. Fortunately, there are sometimes even waivers available for fraud or material misrepresentations.
Lack of Evidence
This is a common reason a family-based green card is denied. Family-based visas are classified as either immediate relatives or family preferences. In order to qualify for either type of a family-based green card, you must present documentary evidence to establish the relationship to the relative. Lack of sufficient evidence may serve as grounds for denial.
Incomplete Green Card Application
When submitting a green card application, it is essential to provide all required documentation and fill out all forms. Failure to do so may lead to a denial.
Another common reason a green card can be denied is when the applicant fails to meet the application deadline.
Errors During the Application Process
Even minor mistakes on your visa application, such as misspelling your name or address, can result in the denial of your green card.
It is essential to seek help from an experienced immigration attorney when submitting a green card application. Our Nashville immigration attorneys at Ozment Law, PLC will guide you every step of the way to help you and your family achieve your goal of living the American Dream. Contact our immigration attorneys to help you apply for a green card. Call us at 615-321-8888 or complete our contact form to schedule a case review. We are taking new consultations!