U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may deny a marriage-based visa for several reasons. Criminal issues, insufficient income, applying before getting married, and a history of immigration law violations are some of the most common.
1. Criminal Issues
Applicants are not required to be U.S. citizens to file a petition for a spouse. But since permanent residents (green card holders) typically experience longer wait times, many apply for U.S Citizenship to speed up the process. If criminal issues have come up since the green card was issued, the sponsoring spouse could be denied naturalization and lose permanent residency as well.
Oftentimes USCIS is unaware of criminal issues until the individual applies for naturalization.
2. Insufficient Income
U.S. Citizen and U.S. Permanent Resident sponsors will need to prove that they have sufficient income to support the immigrant spouse. Requirements are based on the federal government poverty guidelines, which change annually. The income requirement allows many low-income applicants to become residents, but co-sponsors can help if an individual is unable to meet the income requirement.
3. Applicants Aren’t Legally Married
Some spouses attempt to file the petition for the marriage visa while a divorce is still pending to save time. This will likely prolong the process, and USCIS will deny the application if the couple is not legally married at the time of the petition. The best way to prevent denial in these cases is to ensure that the divorce to the previous partner is finalized before applying when newly married.
4. Spouses Have Certain Criminal Convictions
USCIS reviews the criminal background of all applicants, including immigrant spouses. To avoid denial, spouses must be clear of any convictions for certain crimes such as fraud, money laundering, prostitution, and other serious crimes. Applicants can avoid potential issues by clearing up criminal problems before filing a petition.
5. Previous Violations of Immigration Laws
The applicant’s spouse must also not have committed any U.S. immigration law violations, which may include committing fraud or other violations like entering the U.S. without a visa, working in the country without authorization, violating rules for student visas, and overstaying a visa.
Since immigration attorneys can help spot red flags and help resolve issues that may arise, many people discuss their cases with spouse visa lawyers before filing a petition for a marriage-based visa to improve their chances of getting an approval.