Visa Adjustment of Status (AOS) Denial Options
The horror story for many immigrants trying to adjust their status from a temporary visa to a conditional Green card for two years is when the I-485 form is denied. This does happen more frequently than not for those K1 visa holders who came to the USA and got married within a 90-day period. It is a horror because they have been waiting after filing for an adjustment of status for about a year after their arrival in the USA. In most cases, these people have also been working and their hopes are crushed when a denial letter arrives.
If a denial letter is received, it will usually provide why the I-485 application was denied. Many have received these for minor discrepancies, such as a missed appointment, going to the appointment unprepared when asked for paperwork. For the K1 visa person, it is a very important meeting and a time to prove your marriage is real, if you don't, it may be suspected as fraud. Even how you dress may convey a bad or good image. If you go to the meeting without your USC sponsor, that is very bad. The purpose of the AOS is so your K1 visa is extended for another two years. Immigration officers are trying to document that the marriage is real. They will ask how you met, who bought the ring, do you have joint ownership in anything, joint bank accounts, etc. If you go unprepared to prove your case, it could be denied.
Possible AOS Outcomes
- Request for Documents - this is the best result if the AOS is not approved in the meeting. It is simply a request to provide documents listed in the letter. It usually means you went to the meeting unprepared. They will expect them within a time period and should you fail to send them, the I-485 will be denied.
- Denied - For whatever reason, Immigration rejected your adjustment of status. The reason will be listed.
- Approved - Many times, if everything is in order and your marriage is proven to be valid, the officer will tell you the application is approved and all you need to do is wait for the conditional Green Card allowing you to remain in the USA for another two more years. In many states, it also allows you to get a driver's license.
If you receive a denial, that is the end. There is no appeal. It means the non-USC must leave the USA within 30-60 days. However, there are two options to consider immediately:
- File a I-290B. This could allow your I-485 to be reconsidered due to some error on the part of the immigration officer. This usually takes six months to a year. If you file this, it must be done within 30 days of the denial. The fee is several hundred dollars. This method reopens for review your I-485 you originally filed and that is all. If this method fails, it is a total waste of money and time.
- Refile a new I-485. Most attorneys advise to just refile a new AOS. While it is more costly, it allows you to file a corrected AOS (since you know why the previous AOS was denied) with all the other proof needed. The length of time is not different, another year, and it allows the non-USC to remain in the USA until resolution. It also allows the non-USC to get another Employment card so they can continue to work. Should the second attempt fail, odds are that the non-USC must exit the USA or be subject to removal from ICE.