There are a number of reasons why a green card application (for lawful permanent residence) can be denied by the U.S. immigration authorities (most likely either U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S. consulate abroad). Some of the reasons for denial are explained below.

Denial Due to Ineligibility or Not Meeting Application Requirements

Here are some reasons that the immigration authorities might appropriately, under the law, deny your application.

Health Reasons for Denial

A report of medical examination is required for admission as a lawful permanent resident. This is performed by a government-approved doctor.

The results can lead to a denial of your green card based on inadmissible reasons if you are deemed to have a communicable disease that could be a danger to the general public, you fail to provide documentation of having had the required vaccinations and refuse to or cannot have them done before your green card can be approved, you are a drug abuser or addict, or you have a physical or mental disorder that is a threat to yourself or others.

Criminal Reasons for Denial

If you have been convicted of certain types of crimes, or are coming to the United States with the intention to commit a crime you could be denied your green card could be denied.

These include crimes of that are considered vile and despicable, multiple crimes, and specified crimes such as drug trafficking, prostitution, commercialized vice, money laundering, severe violations of religious freedoms as an official in a foreign government, and fraud.

On the forms you will need to fill out (DS-260 if you are doing it through consular processing; Form I-485, the application to do status adjustment, if you are applying from within the U.S.), there are a number of questions you must answer truthfully, most of which are criminal related or as we will see below, security related. Answering yes to one of these questions without an explanation proving that you’re not inadmissible could lead to a denial of your green card.

Security Reasons for Denial

Seeking admission into the United States. in order to violate U.S. laws related to security, such as to engage in terrorist efforts; or former involvement or membership in the Nazi or totalitarian parties, genocide, or in any group that is adversarial to U.S. foreign policy; can lead to a denial of your green card. You cannot engage in espionage, sabotage, violate any U.S. export law relating to goods, services, or technology, or participate in any activity to overthrow the United States.

Public Charge as a reason for Denial

If you are seen as likely to become dependent on the U.S. government for long-term care or financial support, your green card could be denied. USCIS or the consular officer who reviews your case may determine whether you are likely to be convicted of a public charge by considering your age, health, family status, assets, resources, education or skills, and financial status at the time of filing.

There’s less of a chance that you’ll be viewed as likely to become a public charge if someone has signed an affidavit of support for you, or if you’re in the class of immigrants who do not need an affidavit of support filed on their behalf.

Immigrant Violators

If you have entered the United States illegally, such as sneaking in as a stowaway, gained entry by misrepresentation, failed to attend immigration removal proceedings, or have abused the visa process, such as violating the terms and conditions of your visa, you could be subject to denial.

Not Meeting Application Requirements

You will be asked to submit or bring numerous forms, fees, and documents in the course of applying for permanent residence. Failing to read the instructions carefully and provide what is requested can ultimately result in denial, though the government will usually give you an opportunity to supply missing materials first.

The requirements will depend in part on whether you are consular processing or adjusting status in the United States. For example, you will probably need to provide originals or copies (depending on whether your green card case was filed in the U.S. or abroad) of your birth record, marriage certificate, divorce decree (if applicable), valid visa status in the U.S., and so forth.

Not Making it for Appointments

Once you have filed for your green card, you are scheduled by USCIS for a fingerprinting appointment (if filing in the U.S.) and/or eventually an interview appointment (if filing overseas). You must attend these appointments, or reschedule if need be. If not, your green card could be denied.

Denial of Underlying Visa Petition

Your intended grounds for filing for a green card are most likely either employment based, in which case your sponsor will probably have filed a petition on Form I-140; or family based, with your sponsor having filed a Form I-130 petition.

If the underlying petition is denied, your green card application will go no further. For example, if your stepfather submitted an I-130 petition but USCIS determined that there was insufficient proof of a stepparent relationship, the application process would end right there.

Changing Jobs After Filing of I-140

If you change employers, and have an approved I-140 visa petition, you would be have to meet certain requirements in order for your green card application to continue processing. These requirements are that your I-485 must have been pending (awaiting a USCIS decision) for 180 days or more, and the new job must be the same as, or similar to, the job described in the labor certification and I-140 petition.


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