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What Disqualifies You from Getting a Green Card?

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The United States is home to more than 45 million immigrants, and it is a growing population. Back in 2021 alone, there are over 1.5 million people who have filed for green cards. But don’t be deceived by those numbers.

american green card application

While getting a green card is possible for many, it’s not always easy to get one. U.S. immigration laws are very strict, and there are certain criteria that you must meet in order to be approved for a green card.

Here we’ll go over some of the things that can disqualify you from getting a green card.

Green Car Eligibility Requirements


Before we go through every disqualifying factor, let’s take a look at the basics of green card eligibility.

To be eligible for a green card, you must meet certain requirements such as: 

  • Being sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

  • Having an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

  • Having a job offer from an employer in the United States

  • Being granted asylum or refugee status

  • Having certain skills or special qualifications

  • You have resided in the U.S. since January 1st, 1972

  • You are a victim of certain crimes

These requirements are strictly adhered to and if you do not meet them, almost 100% of the time you will not be approved for a green card.

Health Issues

The number one reason why people are disqualified from getting a green card is health-related. U.S. immigration laws require all applicants to be in good health, and any issues that could affect public safety may lead to a denial of your application.

For you to be granted residency, you will undergo a medical exam facilitated by a government-approved doctor. During this exam, any health issue that is identified can be used as a reason to deny your application.

Some examples of health issues that may disqualify you from getting a green card include: 


  • Tuberculosis

  • Drug addiction

  • Physical or mental disorder

  • Chronic disease

Criminal Record 


Another factor leading to green card denial is having a criminal record, especially when it includes certain types of crimes. Criminal convictions, particularly those categorized under Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs), can significantly affect your eligibility. Immigration law identifies numerous CIMTs that can result in a green card denial.

 These include, but are not limited to:
  • Drug trafficking

  • Human trafficking

  • Money laundering

  • Murder

  • Manslaughter

  • Grand theft

  • Child abuse

  • Fraud

  • Bigamy

  • Mayhem

In essence, your criminal history plays a crucial role in the evaluation process as drug crimes, human trafficking, money laundering, and others are viewed as serious immigration violations under U.S. immigration law.

If You Are Considered a National Security Threat


For some obvious reasons, a criminal conviction or prior immigration violations can severely impact your green card application. If you are perceived as a threat to national security, your chances of obtaining an immigrant visa can be significantly diminished. 

The U.S. government takes these matters extremely seriously, and any links to terrorism or espionage activities are immediate grounds for denial.

You Are Considered a Public Charge


The U.S. government also looks at your financial ability to support yourself, as it doesn’t want green card holders becoming a burden on the state. To be approved for an immigrant visa, you must show that you are financially stable and won’t become a public charge (i.e., someone who depends solely on government assistance).

You must also prove that you have a legal source of income, such as: 

  • Employment

  • Self-employment

  • Retirement savings/pension plan

  • Financial assistance from family members or other sponsors.

If you are unable to provide evidence showing your financial stability, then it is likely that your green card application will be denied.

You Made Mistakes On Your Forms


The United States, through its Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), requires absolute accuracy and strict adherence to guidelines when dealing with the green card application process. Leaving sections of your application empty is a common mistake and can lead to your application being denied. Instead, fill in all blanks; if a section doesn’t apply to you, write “N/A” (not applicable). As a best practice, make a final review of your application to ensure no signatures are missing.

Furthermore, remember that all documents submitted must be in English. If your original documents are in another language, secure a certified translation to avoid any key mistakes that could lead to a denial.

In the application, you’ll be required to include a photograph. It’s essential to adhere to photograph guidelines similar to those for passport photos: a recent color photo, taken in the last 6 months, that clearly shows your face against a clear white or off-white background. Importantly, selfies are not considered appropriate.

Another crucial aspect of the green card application process is providing sufficient evidence. Attach all necessary and relevant documents, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or divorce decree, as appropriate.

Lastly, remember to submit your application by the stipulated deadline. Missing deadlines can result in your application being denied. If you find the process overwhelming, consider seeking advice from an immigration attorney to guide you through the process and improve your chances of success.

You Failed to Attend Your Interview 


Just like in any other job, the green card application process requires an interview. The USCIS may or may not require you to attend this interview; however, if the agency does call you in for questioning, it’s important that you attend it.

If you don’t show up or are more than 30 minutes late to your scheduled appointment (without a good reason), then it’s highly likely that your application will be denied.

Moreover, fingerprinting and biometrics are also part of the interview. You may be asked to submit fingerprints, which will be used for background checks and security purposes. For this reason, it is critical that you do not omit any information about your past or present during the interview as this can lead to an immediate denial.

What Can You Do if Your Green Card Application Is Denied?


Know that there are several avenues you can explore if your green card application is denied: 

  • Submit a motion for reconsideration. This is an often-used approach for applicants who believe a mistake led to their application’s denial. A motion for reconsideration allows you to demonstrate that there was a legal or procedural misstep that caused your application to be declined.

  • Present a motion to open up the case again. When there’s new evidence supporting an applicant’s cause, this is a likely path to take. For this to be fruitful, an applicant must illustrate that they were not aware of this new evidence at the time of their initial application and could not include it then.

  • Lodge an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). If there’s a belief that a procedural error was made by the USCIS, resulting in your application’s denial, this could be a viable option. To initiate this, applicants are required to submit Form I-290B for a USCIS officer in the AAO to reassess their plea.

  • File Form I-485 again. This is essentially a reset button for applicants, permitting them to submit Form I-485 again with more supporting evidence to bolster their case.

  • Seek a review from a judge. This is a last-ditch effort that comes with the potential risk of removal. However, it has proven to be effective for some applicants. To go this route, they must file their I-485 form again to receive a Notice to Appear. This provides an opportunity to present their case to the judge at a hearing.

Regardless of the route you choose to follow, remember that navigating this process can be complicated, and having an experienced immigration attorney on your side can be highly beneficial as you strive for lawful permanent residency.

 Key Takeaways

Green card application is not an easy journey, filled with complexities that require the knowledge and expertise of a qualified immigration lawyer. The pursuit of lawful permanent residence is often rife with obstacles, but with the right help from seasoned immigration attorneys, these hurdles can become manageable. 

With Westover Law Firm, you can receive this necessary guidance. Located in Mesa, we’ve been helping individuals navigate the immigration process since 2008. Achieving your dream of living in the U.S. permanently is within reach.

Contact us today to start your journey toward lawful permanent residency.

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