USCIS Study: 67% Of I-751 Interview Cases Are Denied. Why Is This So High?
The USCIS gets a lot of applications every month from conditional residents who are trying to remove the conditions on their 2 year green card. Due to this high case load, adjudicators may not have the time to go through every single case with a fine toothed comb. This can be both a good thing or a bad thing depending on the outcome of your case.
If there’s one thing that most immigrants fear, it’s the immigration interview. For some reason the removal of conditions interview is notoriously seen as difficult because there is a high chance of being asked to attend a second interview. This second interview is commonly known as the stokes interview where you and your spouse are separated and asked some serious questions.
So let’s say that you are asked to attend a removal of conditions interview. Take a deep breath and relax because as long as you are prepared for what to expect, you should be approved. The number of denials are based on how the USCIS selects who will be interviewed. Interestingly, they select some cases randomly but they also select a high number of cases that have weak evidence or red flags.
Look at your own case; did you provide strong evidence of your marriage? If not, you may be required to attend the interview and will need to really study the list of removal of conditions interview questions with your spouse.
Adjudicator Has Too Many Cases To Review
1. The adjudicator may send your case for an interview because they don’t have the time to review your case thoroughly. I have heard of this happening more often with Adjustment of Status cases, so it may not be as likely for ROC. If you are asked to go to an interview, there usually is a reason why. It could be that you didn’t provide enough evidence of a bona fide marriage or it could be that USCIS may be a little suspicious of your marriage.
2. You case is approved without an interview. This is probably the outcome that most of us want because then your 10 year green card will arrive in the mail without you and your spouse attending an interview. If you have gotten approved this way, count yourself luck or well prepared. If you have been asked to go to an interview, see #1 above for the possible reasons why.
It is the responsibility of the conditional permanent resident to remember to send in their I-751 form Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence (ROC). Make sure that the USCIS has the most up-to-date address for you because they send out notifications 120 days prior to your green card expiring to remind you to apply for your ROC.
USCIS Selects Cases To Be Interviewed for Removal Of Conditions
Cases are classified into three categories:
- Fraud Level “C” Cases: are cases that the reviewing immigration officer (IO) sees having no problems with evidence, documentation and no red flags. Depending on the region, 0-10% of C cases are selected for interviews.
- Fraud Level “B” Cases: are cases that have some problems, but not necessarily fatal ones. For example, the case is supported by the minimum number of documents, or the documents are all recent in date. It can also be a case that the immigration officer simply has a bad feeling about, even if they can’t articulate just why. 30-50% of B cases are selected for interviews.
- Fraud Level “A” Cases: are cases with major red flags, such as married couples living apart, a large age difference, etc, form is not signed, insufficient evidence, prior I-751 denied. 100% of A cases are selected for interviews.
Why Are 67% Of ROC Interview Cases Being Denied?
Honestly, I don’t believe the number of denials is really this high especially for couples who submit all the evidence that is required for the I-751. By including ample evidence of a bona fide marriage, you don’t give the adjudicator any sense of doubt that your marriage is real and genuine.
There is no such thing as too much evidence! Okay, there a term that is used around the immigration community called “front-loading” your case and this means that you offer all the evidence that you have available. This is a good starting point because it may reduce your chances of being called for an interview.
However, front-loading can sometimes backfire if the adjudicator is drowning under a lot of cases they have to review and they may just send your case to your local office for an interview. Yes, this actually happens! But I still recommend providing a lot of evidence compared to very little.
So what can cause your I-751 case to be denied?
- not submitting joint tax transcript
- no joint bank accounts/credit cards
- not living together in the same home
- not knowing each other families
- other documents with both names
Remember, only a small percentage of applicants are required to go to the ROC interview (as low as 10%) and these cases were selected for one reason or another. It is more likely that the majority of people who were selected for an interview had something missing from their application or had a red flag. So the more you offer as evidence the lower your case will give off red flags.
This statistic would then make sense because it does not include the huge number of cases that are approved without an interview. Sometimes, couples worry about their individual case but you have to put yourself in the shows of the USCIS adjudicator – they are not out to ruin your marriage but they have a job to do. They want to make sure that only legitimate couples get approved and that the fraudsters are weeded out.
Even if you are denied at the interview, you can always appeal this decision if it was due to not providing enough evidence of an authentic marriage. Of course, the best thing to do is to find out what evidence USCIS is looking for in I-751 cases and send the strongest evidence in the first place. But, even if you didn’t know and were denied, you can still appeal the decision and ultimately get approved.
I believe the the majority of the 67% of cases that are denied at the Removal of Conditions interview are then approved once they submit the all the documents that were required. You will need to decide whether you want appeal the denial (and pay the fee) or reapply for the I-751 (pay the filing fee again). If you have solid evidence that you can send, it is best to appeal because it will be faster for them to review. However, if you don’t have evidence that is considered strong to the USCIS, you may want to apply for the I-751 petition again and consult an experienced immigration attorney.
It is not impossible to overcome a removal of conditions denial and many couples successfully get approved after a denial. You will really need to do your homework even if you decide to hire a lawyer. This is your case and your life on the line, don’t let someone else do all the leg work because you need to know what is going on.