December 11, 2023

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green card: Top reasons your Green Card may be denied and what to do next

In order to enjoy the freedom to live, work, study or retire permanently in the United States, you will most likely require a Green Card. Once you are in possession of this document, you would be granted permanent residency for the remainder of your life, provided you abide by some simple rules, such as filing tax returns, not committing a crime, and making the US your home.

There are three main types of Green Card visas, also known as immigrant visas: family-based, employment-based, and the diversity lottery. However, the family- and employment-based routes contain a multitude of different categories with diverse criteria, ranging from investment and talent to marriage and lineage.

Such differences between each category means that the grounds for denial will often vary depending upon the eligibility requirements of the specific visa. For example, the EB-5 Investor Visa – an employment-based visa – requires that you make an $800,000 investment from a clean source of funds that creates ten jobs. Whereas an EB-1C Visa for multinational managers and executives (also an employment-based visa) requires the manager to have worked in a related overseas business for at least one of the three years before they first entered the United States. Failure to comply with the specifics of either visa could result in a denial.

In addition to these visa-specific grounds for denial there are also common reasons for a denial that impact all Green Card applicants, including:

Criminal Record

Anyone convicted of committing certain crimes could be denied a Green Card. This includes drug and prostitution-related crimes, murder, and more. You will need to disclose this in your application. It is important to note that not all crimes would prevent you from obtaining a Green Card. If you do have a criminal record, it is advisable to speak with an immigration attorney to understand how this might impact your application.

Health Grounds

The US requires Green Card applicants to submit a report from a medical exam by an approved physician. Grounds for a denial could include you having an infectious disease that could cause a public health hazard in the United Statesor failing to meet vaccination requirements. Closely linked to this is the potential for a denial on the grounds you might become a burden on the state, for example if you require long-term care or have mental health issues.

Security Risk

The US authorities will deny the Green Card of anyone suspected of seeking to engage in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or political subversion. They may also deny anyone who has historic involvement in Nazi atrocities or other genocides, war crimes, terrorism, or other crimes against humanity. Inevitably, this is a category where applicants will not usually self-report on their application form. However, if a person is subsequently revealed to have committed war crimes or terrorism offenses, they may have their Green Card revoked, face deportation and be banned from entering the United States.

Previous Immigration Offenses

Your Green Card might be denied if you have previously attempted to enter the US illegally, either by crossing the border without permission or by lying on previous visa application. Immigration offenses could also include overstaying your visa or failing to attend removal and deportation hearings. Even if you are concerned about the outcome of a court case, failing to attend could prove worse than any outcome.

Administrative Errors

Applying for a Green Card can require a burdensome amount of paperwork and it is advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced US-licensed immigration lawyer. In certain instances, the administrative error might not lie with the applicant, but rather with a family member or employer if a sponsor is required. Failing to attend an interview, pay the correct fees, meet deadlines, or to submit the appropriate documentation may all result in denials.

While this can all make the immigration process sound daunting, there are always grounds to appeal or refile a Green Card application that has been denied. The best option is to engage an immigration lawyer for your initial application, or at least for any appeal or resubmission. The key is to be completely open an honest with your lawyer to avoid hidden surprises and to ensure that the application process can be as smooth and pain-free as possible.

The Author is Chief EB5 Immigration Counsel, Davies & Associates, LLC.

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