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Why Was My I-130 Application Denied?

Petition for Alien Relative

The form, I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, allows a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish the existence of a relationship with certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.

How does the Denial Process Work?

A NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) is a letter issued by USCIS when the immigration officer determines that the applicant has not demonstrated eligibility for the requested immigration benefit. USCIS issues a NOID when an applicant has provided sufficient initial evidence but, for some other reason, the USCIS officer does not believe that the case should be approved. The letter lists reasons why USCIS intends to deny the case and provides a chance to overcome those concerns. If USCIS issued the NOID following submission of the I-130 petition, then the petitioner (the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who prepared and filed the I-130) should be the party responding to it.

What are the Most Common Reasons for an I-130 Denial?

Eligibility of Petitioner

Only green card holders or U.S. citizens can file an I-130 petition. The U.S. citizen or green card holder who files the I-130 petition is officially called the “petitioner” or “sponsor.” The person seeking a green card is officially known as the “beneficiary.”

The I-130 petition must be filed with supporting documents to prove that the sponsor is allowed to file an I-130 and that they have a valid family relationship with the person seeking a green card. U.S. citizens can file I-130 petitions for their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Current green card holders can file I-130 petitions for their spouses and unmarried children. If USCIS finds that you are not eligible, the petition will be denied.

Insufficient Information

If you submit your petition and are missing any of the documents in your application in your I-130, then USCIS might send you aRequest for Evidence (or RFE). An RFE is a request for more documentation. It means that the USCIS officer reviewing your application needs more information before he or she can make a decision.

The letter will generally list all the additional documents that USCIS needs to make a decision on your application. USCIS may also explain which eligibility requirements have not been met by the documents already submitted. The USCIS Request for Evidence will also provide a deadline. This tells you how long you have to respond. You will need to respond to the RFE before the deadline indicated (usually 30 to 90 days, but never longer than 12 weeks) so that the adjudicator will have enough evidence to make a favorable decision.

Insufficient Familial Relationship

Generally, the relatives prove their relationship by submitting official documents such as birth and marriage certificates. A married couple not only must show that they are legally married but that the marriage is bona fide (legitimate) and not a fraud or sham undertaken solely for immigration purposes. Some children may have to submit extra documents to show that they qualify as the child of the parent under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). These include stepchildren, adopted children, orphans, and children born out of wedlock. Also, an adopted child cannot petition for his biological birth parents or birth siblings. When the visa petition on Form I-130 is filed, the beneficiary is categorized according to the relationship that qualifies him or her for an immigrant visa.

There are additional categories for denial that married couples should be mindful of:

  • Inconsistent answers given by married couples in their interview

For a marriage to be valid under the law, it is not enough that the couple had a real marriage ceremony and got all the right governmental stamps on their marriage certificate. In order to pass inspection, the marriage must be determined to be “ongoing”, “made in good faith”, and “based on love”. They have to intend to live in a real marital relationship, namely to establish a life together, following the marriage ceremony—and must prove their intention through their actions. If the couple doesn't intend to establish a life together, their marriage is a sham. See this marriage green card checklist for a complete list of documents to include in your petition.

  • Incompatible information obtained by the government

The government has many means of obtaining information about couples. Social media has become a primary source of research by immigration examiners and married couples should consider what they post, including personal data and photographs.

    • Personal Data: Some individuals, after marriage, deliberately leave “single” on their account information.
    • Photographs: A U.S. citizen petitioner posts many pictures. Very few show her current husband.
  • Prior Marriage Fraud

A beneficiary who previously was found to have been in fraudulent marriage or “sham marriage” would be barred from receiving an immigration benefit in the future. This is commonly referred to as a 204(c) finding. An allegation of marriage fraud is very serious and the exact circumstances of the prior marriage should be considered by your attorney.

Failure to Pay Necessary Fees

If you don’t pay the right amount at the time of filing the petition, then there is a chance that your visa might be rejected. It is important to double-check the filing fees before you submit your petition.

What to do When Your I-130 Has Been Denied

If your I-130 was denied, the exact reasons for the denial must be reviewed by an attorney. Sometimes, it may be better to re-file the I-130 if the reason for the denial can be overcome. Other times, it is clear that USCIS has made a mistake in either reviewing the documents enclosed with the application or did not apply the law correctly. In those circumstances, it may be advisable to file an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone, and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.

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