adjustment of status denied

Why Was My I-485 Adjustment of Status Denied After K1 Visa Was Approved?

Once you’re approved for the K1 visa, you’d think that things would just get easier going forward. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. So, why was your adjustment of status denied? There are a number of reasons that USCIS would deny a petition for the 2 year conditional green card. Most of them can be attributed to not following the instructions when filling out form I-485.

The K1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa intended to let you into the US to marry the petitioner. In fact, you are absolutely required to marry the person that filed for you. Of course you’re allowed to change your mind about getting married but then you’d have to leave the US within the 90 day of entry. Some people think that they can use the K1 visa as a “get to know” stage of their relationship but ideally you should already know you want to get married.

Another common thing that happens is when a K1 couple breaks up during the 90 day period. If the relationship can’t be saved the K1 visa holder (also called the beneficiary) must leave the United States before the expiration date on the visa. You can’t simply just stay and try to adjust your status some other way. Many immigrants have found this out the hard way after marrying a different US citizen and realizing they can’t adjust status.

Reasons Why I-485 Adjustment of Status Was Denied

It’s rare that a green card denial comes out of the blue. Usually, USCIS gives you the opportunity to respond to a letter called “notice of intent to deny” or NOID. This is commonly given to you right after the adjustment of status interview when they’ll let you know what the next steps will be.

You didn’t prove you have a bona fide marriage

This is probably one of the more common reasons for an I-485 denial. By now you should know that USCIS wants to see a lot of evidence proving that you entered the marriage in good faith. They will suspect everyone of marrying a US citizen for immigration benefits (getting a green card) until you can show otherwise. Yes, they are very skeptical and unromantic.

How do you prove you have a bona fide marriage? Not only do you need to provide your marriage certificate, shared assets, financial and tax documents but you should also provide things that show you have a normal married life together. This can be photos of your honeymoon, affidavits from friends and family, birthday cards, receipts for holidays together, etc.

Without enough evidence of a bona fide marriage, USCIS will deny your I-485 application for a green card and you’ll need to leave the US or be placed in removal proceedings. The removal proceedings will take some time so it wouldn’t happen right away and you can always fight the denial decision during this time.

You didn’t respond to a request for evidence (RFE)

If USCIS needs further documentation to continue to process your case, they’ll send you a request for evidence. It’s a letter that outlines exactly what they are missing and let’s you know how much time you have to respond. They’ll usually give no more than 30 days from the date of the letter for you to respond.

Unfortunately, if you don’t respond in time they will automatically deny the I-485 application for a green card. In the event that you do submit the documents late, they will not reopen your case to process it. You’re pretty much out of luck and must reapply for the green card.

Your petitioner doesn’t meet the income requirement

One major reason for a green card denial is if USCIS thinks you’ll become a public charge. Haven’t you heard? The US government is broke can’t allow immigrants into the country that will need financial support from the tax payer. To prove that you will not be on welfare, you’ll need to show that the petitioner meets the 125% poverty guidelines.

The good news is that if you (the beneficiary) is currently working you can include your own income to help meet this requirement. If this isn’t possible then you’ll need to find a joint sponsor that can meet the income requirement for their household plus the beneficiary. This is serious business and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Whoever signs form I-864 affidavit of support will be financially responsible for the immigrant until:

  • The beneficiary has worked 10 quarters (10 years)
  • The beneficiary becomes a US citizen
  • The beneficiary dies

You have a criminal conviction that makes you inadmissible

Although the time between when you arrived on a K1 visa and when you apply for the I-485 petition is short, if you’ve been arrested and convicted of a crime it can affect your application. USCIS is mainly concerned with crimes of moral turpitude which is a fancy way of saying crimes that a “good moral person” wouldn’t commit.

Examples of crimes of moral turpitude are:

  • murder
  • voluntary manslaughter
  • involuntary manslaughter, in some cases
  • rape
  • spousal abuse
  • child abuse
  • incest
  • kidnapping
  • robbery
  • aggravated assault
  • mayhem
  • animal fighting
  • theft
  • fraud, and
  • conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory

To avoid your I-485 adjustment of status application being denied, just be good person and don’t commit the above crimes.

You have a health related issue that makes you inadmissible

I’m sure you remember the K1 visa medical exam and if you are adjusting status within a year of that date, you should be fine. However, if you waited a long time to file the I-485 and the I-693 has already expired then you’ll need to prove you don’t have a health related issue. You’ll need to go to a USCIS approved physician that will do your medical and review your vaccination history just like the medical exam you did in your home country.

If your found to have a communicable disease, you’re I-485 will be denied until you seek treatment. Once the doctor clears you as being treated, you can reapply for the green card and should then be approved.

Any of the below can be considered health related reasons for denial:

  • communicable disease of public health significance
  • a failure to present proof of having all required vaccines​
  • p​resent or past physical or mental disorder with harmful behavior (that’s likely to recur)
  • drug abuse or addiction.

Denial due to an error made on your case by USCIS

Sometimes the reason for your I-485 denial is simply a mistake made by an adjudicator or immigration officer. But trying to get USCIS to admit this is an entirely different animal, good luck with that! To prove that they made a mistake with your case you’ll first need to learn what the denial reason was.

For example: if the reason they denied your green card was because you didn’t show enough evidence of bona fide marriage but you swear you sent them every piece of evidence including a vile of your blood (ha-ha!). Guess what? It’s possible they may have lost it in the shuffle and didn’t realize it. You’ll need to resend the evidence again and hold your tongue.

The best time to respond to a possible denial is when you receive the letter from USCIS stating they are about to deny you. Don’t wait until it’s a final decision because it will only be that much harder to have them reopen your case. Responding promptly to a request for evidence (RFE) or a notice of intent to deny (NOID) ensures that you can correct the problem before it gets to be a bigger problem.

What To Do After I-485 Has Been Denied

Appeal denial decision to Immigration Judge

To appeal a denial decision by an immigration officer, you’ll need to submit your request to USCIS’s Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). These are the big honchos in the immigration system that will review your entire case and the final decision to determine if it was valid or not.

The form that needs to filed is I-290B and unfortunately there is a fee of $630 for processing.

Does the immigration process feel like a big game of monopoly? They just keep taking your money over and over until your completely broke. Then, you no longer qualify because you could be a public charge risk because your broke.

Make sure to file your appeal within 30 days of the denial otherwise you loose the chance completely. Once USCIS received your application to appeal, they’ll review it and give you a final decision by mail.

Once an appeal is filed, the consular officer who made the original decision will first review the record. A review of the record will determine whether the evidence or argument you submitted in the appeal has enough weight to reopen or reconsider the decision. If the adjudicating officer finds that reconsidering the decision is not warranted, the officer will forward the case for further review to the AAO.

The decision made by the AAO is final. There is no further appeals and you will need to reapply for the visa if they find the original denial valid.

Reapply for I-485 Adjustment of Status

After a denial it may be best to just reapply for the green card if you can overcome the reason for the denial. A new stronger case will allow a new adjudicator to review your case with fresh eyes. You’ll also get the opportunity for a new adjustment of status interview where you can plead your case.

If you intend to reapply, make sure that you submit more evidence and documentation than you did the first time. I truly don’t think there is a such things as too much supporting evidence in an immigration case.

Final Thoughts On Adjustment of Status Denial

Denial of your adjustment of status can be avoided if you take the right precautionary steps. By following the instructions on form I-485, you ensure that your application will be complete which reduces the chance of problems at the interview. Remember, applying for a green card shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll need to keep up-to-date with your case by checking the status on

If your case is ultimately denied, you do have the options to appeal the decision or reapply. I tend to tell people to just reapply and submit more documentation to prove your have a valid case. Appeals are very hard to win because immigration officials are human beings and no one likes to admit they were wrong. Plus the appeal application fee is so high that you might as well take a chance at starting over, right?


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