5 Reasons Why Your Green Card Might Be Denied

Green Card Application

Why Green Cards Get Denied in the U.S.

Obtaining a Green Card is a top priority for many non-citizens in the U.S. Also known as a Lawful Permanent Resident Card or immigrant visa, a green card holder is permitted to work and live anywhere in the U.S. for 10 years.

There are various advantages to having a green card, including:

  • U.S. residency
  • U.S. work permit
  • The ability to enter or exit the U.S. without a visa or ESTA
  • The ability to attend a U.S. university
  • Eligibility for Medicare benefits after 5 years as a cardholder
  • The ability to apply for federal student loans
  • Family members become eligible for a green card (this includes the cardholder’s spouse and unmarried children under 21)
  • The ability to obtain business and commercial licenses
  • Eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship after 3-5 years
  • Protection from travel embargoes (crisis security)

Because it can be very difficult for non-citizens to find permanent work in the United States, a green card is one of the only ways for immigrants to achieve a life of comfort, peace, and safety in the U.S. Given the high stakes of a green card application, it’s natural for applicants to feel anxious or uncertain.

If you’re in the process of applying for permanent residence, you may find it helpful to know what to expect going forward. Keep reading to learn 5 reasons why green cards are denied by the U.S. government.

Top 5 Reasons Why Green Card Applications Get Denied

Becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States is no small feat. Many immigrants face significant hurdles and hoops to jump through when applying for a green card. While thousands of non-citizens are granted permanent residence status each year, thousands more are denied the opportunity to be green card holders.

Depending on your situation, there are various reasons why your green card application may be rejected. Consider the following reasons why green card applicants are denied permanent residence in the U.S.

#1. The applicant is ineligible due to a health condition.

Any person applying to visit or reside in the United States is required to undergo a medical exam. While a common cold likely won’t prevent a non-citizen from entering the country, a government-appointed doctor will conduct a medical examination to ensure that:

  • The applicant doesn’t have a communicable disease.
  • The applicant has received required vaccinations. Valid documentation must be provided.
  • The applicant is not an addict or drug abuser.
  • The applicant doesn’t suffer from a physical or mental condition that can make them a danger to themselves or others.

#2. The applicant makes mistakes on their application.

Completing an application for permanent residence in the U.S. is often painstaking and time-consuming. While making mistakes is part of human nature, it’s essential for applicants to do their due diligence by double-checking (or triple-checking) their forms, paperwork, and supporting documentation before submission.

Even one seemingly small error during the application process can have costly consequences and can result in your green card application being rejected. Common mistakes to avoid on the green card application include:

  • Failing to provide English translations. All non-English documents, including birth certificates, must be translated into English before submission. It's crucial to have a certified translator review the text beforehand to ensure the translation is correct and complete.
  • Missing information on the application. It's imperative for applicants to thoroughly review their applications to ensure they didn't leave any spots blank. It's also important to make sure you didn't overlook any required signatures. If you come across a question that you're unsure about, you should ask for clarification or simply write "N/A" to indicate that the question doesn't apply to your situation.
  • Submitting an invalid photograph. Photographs for a green card application are generally required to meet the same governmental guidelines as a passport photo (such as using a plain background or removing eyeglasses). Click here to learn more about the guidelines for photographs.
  • Missing application deadlines. While this may seem self-explanatory, it's crucial to know your application deadline. If you don't show up for scheduled appointments or fail to submit your documentation on time, your application will be denied.

#3. The applicant has a criminal record.

To be clear, you can obtain a green card with a criminal record—just not always. Not every crime makes you automatically ineligible to apply for permanent residence. However, some aspects of a criminal record can make you ineligible for a green card.

Applicants are legally required to truthfully disclose criminal history on a green card application, including arrests, charges, and convictions. Crimes that can result in the denial of your green card application include:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude. These are defined as depraved or immoral acts and are considered serious violations of acceptable norms. Common examples include homicide, rape, fraud, and other serious crimes.
  • Illegal drug crimes. Even low-level possession charges can result in ineligibility for a green card. If you have any drug-related crimes on your record, it’s extremely important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide your next steps.
  • Aggravated felonies. Under federal law, applicants with aggravated felony charges on their record are ineligible for permanent residence status. Such crimes include murder, kidnapping, and rape.

#4. The applicant engages in fraudulent activity or misrepresentation.

Above all else, it’s essential to be as truthful as possible on a green card application. While it’s important to avoid unintentional mistakes (such as listing an incorrect address, misspelling a name, or including incorrect employer information), it’s equally important to avoid “tweaking” information to misrepresent yourself.

The willful misrepresentation of a material fact can result in your application being denied. Any act with the intent to deceive is grounds for rejection, and in some cases, permanent inadmissibility to the U.S. While it is possible to challenge allegations of misrepresentation or fraud, it's a slippery slope that requires, at the very least, diligent and comprehensive legal counsel from a skilled immigration lawyer.

Common examples of fraud or misrepresentation on a green card application include:

  • Lying about your name, age, employment history, or other information
  • Submitting falsified documents (such as medical records)
  • Forging or possessing a counterfeit green card
  • Concealing information (such as a past conviction)
  • Attempting to deceive government officials
  • Using marriage as a fraudulent means to obtain a green card

For applicants seeking a marriage-based green card, you can expect to prove that you’re in a bona fide marriage (a partnership that is entered into in good faith for legitimate reasons rather than fraudulent intent).

Approval for a marriage-based green card will require strong documentation and evidence that your marriage is authentic and valid, including (but not limited to):

  • Joint bank account statements
  • Life insurance that lists both spouses
  • Wills or trusts that list both spouses
  • Lease agreements that list both spouses
  • Postmarked mail to a shared address
  • Joint utility bills
  • A deed that proves joint property ownership

This is just a short list of many documents that you may include to prove your bona fide marriage. To learn what else you may need to submit to obtain a marriage-based green card, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

#5. The applicant violated immigration laws or entered the U.S. illegally.

An applicant with a history of immigration violations will be denied a green card. Likewise, an applicant can be denied if they entered the country unlawfully or have prior removals (deportation history) from the United States.

While this may seem like a hopeless situation, know that there are options to regain admissibility. If you’re ineligible due to immigration violations or prior removals, you can file an Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601). As always, it’s imperative to consult with your immigration attorney to ensure that you’re taking the correct steps to achieve the results you desire.

Here to Help Texas Families Stay Together

Our Texas immigration attorneys at Nathan Christensen PC understand how overwhelming it can be to navigate the U.S. immigration process. With confusing, ever-changing laws and regulations, it can be difficult to keep up with current requirements and restrictions. For native Spanish speakers, the process to attain permanent residence status can be all the more challenging.

Our firm is committed to helping families throughout Dallas and Fort Worth achieve the American dream they deserve. Don’t let complex immigration laws stand in the way of creating a better, brighter future for yourself and your loved ones. Our team takes pride in serving our fellow Texans by offering low-cost initial consultations and sound legal counsel to guide your next steps. We welcome Spanish-speaking clients and will happily assist you in the language you’re most comfortable in.

Don’t let the U.S. immigration system overwhelm you. Reclaim your power by taking the first step toward American freedom. Call (972) 497-1017 today or contact us online to request your free consultation.
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