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What to Do if Your Immigration Application is Denied

Are you wondering what to do if your immigration application is denied by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the consulate? Your answer will be determined by the type of visa you are applying for and whether you are inside the United States or abroad.

Anyone filing a visa or green card application, or any other United States immigration benefit, should be aware that government agencies dealing with these cases can grant you more than one chance to supplement your application. These agencies are often compelled to decide quickly when it involves many temporary visa applications, and their offer might make it deserving of approval when permanent residence (immigrant visa or green card) becomes the issue. 

Should your visa or green card be denied, you should consider hiring an immigration attorney. This recommendation is especially relevant if the denial was caused by anything other than a clerical error or incomplete documents on your side. For more complicated concerns, such as removal proceedings and petitions to reopen or to reconsider, you will undoubtedly want the services of an immigration attorney.

Immigration applications are filled with dreams, hopes, money, and time. To put it mildly, being told NO after going through all that is frustrating. Miller & Miller Immigration Attorneys is committed to helping our clients obtain immigration visas successfully. If an immigration application is denied, we will do what we can to appeal the decision. Get in touch with Miller & Miller Immigration Attorneys right away!

What Do I Do If My Immigration Application is Denied?

If your initial petition is denied by USCIS—whether it was an I-129F (for fiancés of U.S. citizens), a Form I-129 (for temporary workers), Form I-130 (for family-based immigrants), or Form I-140 (for immigrant employees)—the best course of action is to file a new petition. This is still true regardless of whether an immigration attorney is working for you.

There is a process for appealing decisions, but very few people use it. You will probably be spending less time if you start over, but the cost will be roughly the same. And because no government institution is ever happy to own up to a mistake, starting fresh is a strategic advantage.

What Do I Do If My Green Card Gets Denied After an Application for Adjustment of Status? 

If you are an immigrant who filed for a green card from inside the US, you are using the adjustment of immigration status process by filling up Form I-485 together with additional documentation and forms.

Hopefully, everything will happen as planned: USCIS will accept your mailed-in application as complete (rather than returning it with a “request for evidence,” which means additional information or documents), will schedule a biometrics appointment for you from which you need to provide fingerprints, and you will attend an interview where USCIS will approve you as a permanent resident of the US.

But this is not always how it goes. Even after requesting post-interview follow-up documentation, USCIS may still deny an application for adjustment of status. If this occurs, you will need to address serious concerns such as:

  • if you will face deportation and be compelled to leave the United States;
  • if it is worthwhile to request an immigration case review; and
  • if it is better to start over again with a new immigration application.

These alternatives will be discussed below.

If USCIS Initiates Removal Proceedings Against You

The USCIS will refer you to an immigration court for removal proceedings if the USCIS denies your adjustment of status application, and you do not have a legal, unexpired right to remain in the United States (probably under a visa). You will have the chance to have your case heard by an immigration court there.

The good thing is that it is not the worst that can happen. Unless anything in the USCIS review revealed that you are unqualified for the type of green card you had been applying for (or if the USCIS dismissed the petition on which you were applying, i.e., an I-130), the immigration court might reconsider checking whether you are qualified.

In many situations, USCIS rejections are for severe grounds that renewal is not conceivable, or the court is unlikely to be convinced. However, since USCIS makes errors, this option may be viable.

Requesting a Review of the Denial by USCIS

After they reject your application for a status adjustment, USCIS will notify you in writing of the basis for the decision. There’s no procedure to appeal this decision.

However, you can request USCIS to reconsider its decision. Alternatively, you could reapply as mentioned below.

In some cases, you may request that USCIS’s Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) revisit the verdict. This is accomplished using USCIS Form I-290B. However, you will need the assistance of an immigration lawyer in this matter. The goal is to show USCIS officials who evaluated your case committed an error, and USCIS does not enjoy admitting errors. For such a review, you need to pay a fee of $675 in the latter part of 2021.

It is critical to send a request for review as soon as possible. You have thirty days from the date of the decision’s service to file a request. You must file your request within 33 days if you received the verdict via mail. Public holidays and weekends are considered when calculating the number of days. USCIS is going to process your request and notify you in writing of its decision when they receive your request for review. 

Starting a New Application for a Green Card

The majority of adjustments of status denials are issued “without prejudice,” which means you can apply for a green card again. Because you are not asking USCIS to acknowledge a mistake, this may be easier than submitting a request for review.

But, if you do not have a right to stay in the US legally, you may be forced to leave and can either return or complete most of the application process via a US consulate. In the meantime, if you have previously stayed in the United States illegally, you may be barred from returning for many years. (This is because your past unlawful stay in the US will surely have rendered you inadmissible.)

Do not make any decision without first discussing your case with a lawyer.

Naturally, you must ensure that the issue that led to the initial denial of your application for an adjustment of status has been resolved. Unfortunately, not all concerns can be resolved. For instance, if you’re ineligible due to a history of a criminal conviction, or if USCIS has received strong proof that your marriage is fake (and it truly is), both appeals or further applications are unlikely to assist much. 


Do not ever disregard a summons to appear before the immigration court. Lawyers are often consulted by immigrants scheduled for an immigration court hearing but forgot, could not attend, or simply believed the matter would stop. Failure to show up for a court appearance is the most harmful thing you can do to your immigration hopes. It will likely result in an immediate, absentia order of removal (deportation). 

This means that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could pick you up and deport you at any time without any further hearings. You’ll also be banned from the US for ten years and face other punishments if you come back without inspection (illegally).

Nonimmigrant (Temporary) Visa Application at US Consulate Denied

You cannot appeal a rejection if you apply for a nonimmigrant visa via an overseas consulate. The consulate is supposed to inform you of the reason for the refusal. Oftentimes, the quickest solution is to address the issue (if feasible) and reapply.

Immigrant Visa at US Consulate Denied

If you apply for an immigrant visa and get turned down, the consular officer will inform you why. One of the most common reasons for visa denial is that your application was incomplete and more material is required to reach a favorable decision. Therefore, the denial isn’t permanent—you will have a year to submit information to reverse the decision. If you don’t provide the necessary documentation to the consular officer within a year, your immigration application will be closed, and you’ll have to start again. There is no way to appeal both the denial and the closure.

Sometimes, applicants are not granted their visas straight away, but this is not due to a denial. Rather, something—usually a security check—is stopping the visa officer from coming to a decision. This is known as “administrative processing,” which is very inconvenient for the visa applicant. If this happens to you, you will not be notified why your case is being processed administratively or how long it will take. You simply need to be patient.

If the US consulate declines an immigrant visa, it may sometimes refer the matter back to USCIS, requesting that the petition for which the visa application was based be revoked. In this scenario, you aim to persuade USCIS first that the petition should not be revoked (typically with additional proof), and the petition should be returned to the consulate so you can have another interview. 

You will then need to convince a wary visa officer to grant you the visa. When this occurs, be prepared to wait years for your case to be resolved—the back-and-forth between the USCIS and consulate isn’t quick.

If your case becomes a miscarriage of justice or a bureaucratic nightmare, your US sponsor may seek assistance from a local congressperson. Several of them have staff members devoted to assisting constituents with immigration issues. A simple congressional inquiry can stop months of consular or USCIS inaction or stonewall. In exceptional circumstances, the congressperson’s office may be willing to exert direct pressure on the consular office or the USCIS.


Don’t try many conflicting applications. The United States government maintains a record of all your applications and will gladly remind you of any previous fraud or other causes for inadmissibility. (A name change won’t work since the immigration officer will get your fingerprints.)

Hire a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Immigration Attorney Now! 

The USCIS has discretion over whether or not to approve an application for adjustment of status. Deportation (removal) procedures can start if your application to adjust your status was denied. Consult a competent attorney specializing in immigration law in the United States. The lawyer can give legal advice on what to do if your immigration application is denied.

Call Miller & Miller Immigration Lawyers, LLC now to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with one of our Wisconsin immigration attorneys!

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