When a US citizen or legal permanent resident applies for a green card – also known as a green card – for their foreign spouse, the immigration authorities approve the petition in a very high rate of cases. However, you can deny it for more than 40 causes.
What can be done when the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or a consular office refuses to approve the application for residency for a foreign spouse depends on the cause of the problem.
The solution may be to file a new application, skip the time of punishment, request and get approval for a waiver, also known as a pardon or permission, or in other situations, there will be nothing that can be done.
It is convenient to avoid falling into the causes that generate the problems when submitting the request and asking for forgiveness – if necessary – at the right time.
Forgiveness in marriage green card petitions
- Only when the denial of the residence card is for a reason of inadmissibility would it be possible, depending on the case, to request a pardon. If the reason for denying the residence card is other than inadmissibility, the solution will be different.
- Pardon, waiver or permission means the same thing in this context. It is not always possible to request it, and although the possibility exists, Immigration does not always approve it.
- Regarding the moment of requesting forgiveness, if the request for a green card is made through adjustment of status, it can be presented at the beginning of the application or during the interview. On the contrary, if the consular process is followed, the pardon is requested at the interview time.
- Requesting more than one pardon may be necessary, depending on the case.
Here are the most common causes that lead to denial of the green card application, how it can be solved, and action.
The sponsor cannot request spouse papers.
Under the law, U.S. citizens cannot request papers for their husbands when they have been convicted of a crime covered by the Adam Walsh Act, under the Citizenship and Immigration Act, section 204 (a) (l) (A) (viii).
This law includes all conduct that constitutes a sexual offense against a minor, including possession, production, or distribution of child pornography, using the internet to facilitate a criminal sexual encounter with a little and any sexual practice.
The kidnapping or confinement of a minor is also included. In these two cases, there is an exception if the convicted person is the father or mother of the minor who is the victim.
In these cases contemplated in the Adam Walsh law, nothing can be done to lift the refusal to approve the green 0 cards.
Non-compliance with the minimum resources required to sponsor
According to the minimums established by law, the green card petition will not be approved if the citizen or permanent resident does not have sufficient financial resources to sponsor.
In 2019, the required income for families consisting only of the citizen or resident spouse and foreign spouse was the following:
- Non-military in Alaska: $ 26,412
- Non-military in Hawaii: $ 24,325
- Non-military in the rest of the states: $ 21,137
- Military in Alaska: $ 21,130
- Military in Hawaii: $ 19,460
- Military in the rest of the states: $ 16,910
If the family unit has more members, the requirements will increase proportionally.
Proving that you have the income to sponsor can be especially difficult for the citizen who has recently lived outside the United States and does not have tax returns or recent payrolls to prove their income.
If the sponsor does not meet this minimum income, they should find one or more co-sponsors to sign the support declaration, also known as an affidavit of support. Otherwise, the green card will be denied.
Non-fulfillment of requirements regarding the validity of the marriage
The United States admits a civil or religious marriage between people of the same sex or between a man and a woman, as long as it is legal and valid according to the laws of the place where it is celebrated.
Common law marriages are recommended to be avoided in states that do allow it, such as Texas, as they may be difficult for immigration authorities to prove.
Proxy marriages should also be avoided since marriage consummation is a requirement for it to produce migratory effects.
On the other hand, the United States does not admit bigamy cases, even when they are legal in the country of origin of one or both marriage members. If any of them had been previously married, they must prove that the marriage ended by annulment, death, or divorce.
In this section, there may be several assumptions such as, for example, lack of signature on a document, insufficient payment of the fee corresponding to each immigration form, lack of response to all the questions on the forms, not showing up for an interview, failure to comply with photo format and shape requirements, etc.
To avoid this problem, make sure you comply with all the specifications on the forms and answer N / A to all questions that do not apply to the case.
In some cases, immigration authorities will send a letter in the form of a Request of Evidence or Note of Intent to Deny to fix the problem. In others, it will simply close the request. To reopen the request, it will be necessary to start the request from the beginning and pay again.
2-year ban on J-1 visa holders
People who have had a J-1 exchange visa may find themselves required to reside two years outside the United States at the end of their program. This obligation applies even when that foreign person marries a citizen or permanent resident in good faith.
First, the solution to this problem is to determine if this prohibition applies in the particular case of the program that the person has enjoyed since it does not apply to all of them.
If applicable, in some cases, it is possible to request a waiver. If it cannot be obtained, the solution is to spend the two years outside the US. At the end of that time, the petition for the green card will be approved.
Apply for the green card ahead of time
When a tourist marries in the US, stays in the US, and then their citizen spouse applies for a green card for him or her, residency may be denied for law fraud. This is so because the foreign person entered the country to be a tourist, not becoming an immigrant.
The solution is to allow at least 90 days to pass before applying for the green card. This term was recently extended during the administration of President Donald Trump.
The other solution is to leave the US after marriage and follow a regular spouse petition process by the consular procedure.
This situation not only applies to the boyfriends of citizens but also their spouses. For example, Margarita Pérez is a US citizen and has lived for the last ten years in Venezuela, where she married the Venezuelan Juan García 7 years ago.
During a couple’s trip to the United States, they decide to stay, and a month after entering the country, Margarita asks her husband for a green card – who entered with a tourist visa. There may be a severe problem to consider Immigration that Juan entered the United States in fraud of law.
The solution is the same as with the bride and groom who get married when one is a tourist: let at least 90 days pass. It must be an unforeseen intention that Immigration cannot say that the idea was to stay in the United States from the beginning.
The other option Margarita would have would be to follow the ordinary path and ask her husband, who would have to wait abroad for her immigrant visa.
Finally, if there is already a denial due to law fraud, a pardon may be requested, but it isn’t easy to obtain, and advice from a specialist lawyer is recommended.
Enter with a K-1 visa and marry someone other than a sponsor
The K-1 visas allow the couple to enter US citizens to marry within 90 days and then apply to adjust status to get a green card.
In these cases, the marriage must be with the citizen who sponsored the foreign fiancé. If you marry a different person, even if he or she is also a US citizen, you will not fix the papers as it is a fraud of the law.
The solution is to leave the US before completing the 90 days of stay in the country and initiate a new partner’s request, waiting outside the country during the procedures.
If there is a fraud decision, it is necessary to ask for a pardon, and it is not easy to obtain it.
A change in immigration policy has resulted in more than 13,000 non-immigrant and immigrant visas being denied due to public charges in the last two years.
The usual thing was that, except in extreme cases, this cause of denial of the green card did not affect requests with a sponsor, as is the case of requests presented by a spouse.
Now, this is no longer the case. Both the immigrant visa and the adjustment of status are denied for reasons such as use in the past of public resources, age, illness or disability, low educational levels, lack of work experience, etc.
If it is believed that there may be a problem of this nature, it is advisable to consult an attorney to present additional evidence to show that the requested person is not at risk of becoming a burden to the government.
There is no possibility to request a waiver in public charge cases.
Failure to appear for a hearing in case of deportation
If a person did not appear in the last five years for a hearing on a deportation case, they could not adjust their status by marriage.
If you are outside the U.S. and left voluntarily with a deportation order pending, you will have to serve the years of punishment. In these cases, it is possible to request an I-212 waiver, depending on several factors, to be approved.
Before starting any immigration procedure, it is essential to know if you have a pending deportation order issued in absentia.
Marriage of convenience
The US immigration authorities will not approve any green card petition if they suspect that the marriage is false and its sole purpose is to get the foreign spouse to obtain the green card.
To determine if they are facing a false marriage, the authorities look at situations such as:
- the difference in age, education, or social class
- different religions
- origin in a country with high rates of marriages of convenience
- different races
- spouses do not speak the same language
- does not share an address or property or bank accounts
- have been married immediately after meeting
- the spouse who asks for the papers is poor
- either spouse has a history of felonies or lies
- Previous green card requests for another spouse
To demonstrate that the marriage is in good faith, it is convenient to keep all kinds of documents, photos, receipts, etc., that can be used to prove it. Also, everything that is declared in the interviews must be consistent with what has been stated in the documents and forms that have been delivered to the immigration authorities.
If a marriage is considered false, the green card will be denied and can even be imposed in the most severe cases penalties of $ 250,000 fine and imprisonment of 5 years.
Other issues that cause green card denial
More cases make a person inadmissible and therefore cannot obtain a green card. However, they are less frequent, such as espionage, membership in a communist party, money laundering, membership of the gangs, etc.
It may be possible to request a waiver in some cases, but it is recommended to consult an attorney due to its nature.