What Happens If Your I-751 Was Denied?
If you are reading this, you are someone that got a conditional green card after marrying a U.S. Citizen. You then used Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence to petition for a non-conditional green card, good for ten years. However, for one reason or another, this petition was denied. What are your options now?
You Might Have to Go to Court
Unfortunately, you cannot directly appeal the denial of an I-751 petition. Instead, your denial may have been accompanied by a Notice to Appear in immigration court for removal proceedings (deportation). This can be scary, but do not despair, it does not mean hope is lost. Your appearance before the judge will essentially be your opportunity to appeal your denial and show the judge why he or she should grant you permanent residence. Luckily, even though the immigration judge’s job is to review USCIS’s decision, it is treated as a “de novo review,” meaning you can submit new evidence that you did not submit to USCIS.
Why Was My I-751 Denied?
There are a few different reasons why your I-751 petition may have been denied. Each reason will require a different tactic before the judge. The most common reasons are:
USCIS Is Suspicious That Your Marriage Is Fraudulent or That The Marital Relationship Has Failed
If your application was denied due to these suspicions, the hearing before the immigration judge essentially acts as an opportunity for you to show the judge that your marriage is legitimate and that you are still with your spouse. For this, you will need to submit copies of any documents that show proof of your marriage, such as:
- Joint banking accounts
- Joint leases
- Joint mortgages
- Birth certificates of any children you have together
- Affidavits from people close to your and your spouse that can attest to the truthfulness of your marriage
- Anything else you can think of that can show that you and your spouse are in a loving and legitimate marriage
A benefit of the hearing format compared to the initial I-751 application is that you can have people go and testify in front of the judge as witnesses to your relationship. This can include testimony from you and/or your spouse as well. This is like an affidavit but has the benefit of giving a face to the testimony.
The I-751 Was Submitted Too Late
If your application was submitted late, you will need to give the judge good reasons (with strong evidence) for your late submission. In order to convince the judge to forgive the late application of the I-751, your reasons will usually have to be something along the lines of:
- long term illness,
- death of a family member,
- the recent birth of a child (particularly if there were complications),
- and a family member on active duty with the U.S. military.
Merely forgetting or not knowing that you had to apply to remove the conditions on your green card will not be enough. Additionally, you cannot claim that USCIS’s failure to notify you of the deadline as a justifiable reason.
The I-751 Was Filed with Inadequate Supporting Documents
The strategy here is similar to the strategy under the first reason for denial we discussed. However, chances are that the documents denying your application will explain exactly how your documents were inadequate. You will therefore have a better idea of exactly how your application was deficient and can prepare the exact types of documents that USCIS felt were lacking in your initial application.
You Have A Criminal Record That Makes You Ineligible
Part of the I-751 application included the government taking your biometric information (fingerprints, photographs, and signature) for a background check. If this brought up information of a past criminal conviction, it may make you ineligible for admission to the United States. This would be reason enough for your I-751 petition to be denied and would work against you during your deportation hearing. In this case, you will want the help of an attorney to get post-conviction relief. This can save you from removal and can turn the tide in the decision to grant your I-751 petition.
You Missed the Interview or Did Not Receive Notice of the Interview
If you missed your interview or did not receive notice of the interview, there are two possibilities. The first is to try to contact USCIS, explain your situation, and try to get them to reschedule your interview. If this is successful, then just make sure you attend your scheduled interview!
However, if you are unable to get the interview rescheduled, you will have to work with an attorney to file a Motion to Reopen your case. This is a bit more complicated but will give you a second opportunity to get the interview and have your case in consideration again.
Refiling I-751 After Denial
If the denial of your I-751 did not include a Notice to Appear, you will have the opportunity to quickly refile an I-751 with improved supporting documents and you can avoid having to go to court. It is important to quickly work with an immigration attorney to compile the documents and file as soon as possible.
Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding the denial of your I-751, you will want to get an attorney to help you understand why the case was denied and to help you put everything together to best present your case and ensure that you can get your non-conditional permanent residence.
To schedule an initial consultation with us today, don't hesitate to contact us online or call (949) 478-4963. Se habla Español. Services are also available in Farsi and Mandarin.
 This list is drawn from a USCIS Memorandum on Adjudication of Form I-751.