Denial of Adjustment of Status: What Non-Citizens Need to Know

As an immigration and criminal defense attorney practicing in New York and New Jersey, I have encountered numerous cases where non-citizens face the daunting reality of adjustment of status denial. This article aims to elucidate the implications of such denials and provides non-citizens with essential knowledge to navigate their legal options.

Understanding Adjustment of Status

Definition: Adjustment of Status (AOS) refers to the process that allows eligible non-citizens already in the U.S. to apply for lawful permanent resident status—commonly known as obtaining a Green Card—without having to return to their home country for visa processing.

Common Grounds for AOS Denial

The following are the primary reasons AOS applications may be denied:

  1. Inadmissibility: The applicant may be deemed inadmissible due to health, criminal, security, or other grounds defined under INA §212(a).
  2. Violations of Immigration Law: Prior violations, such as overstaying a visa or working without authorization, can result in denial.
  3. Failure to Meet Application Requirements: Incomplete applications or failure to provide sufficient evidence of eligibility.

Legal Remedies and Relief from Deportation

When facing a denial, non-citizens have limited but vital options to consider:

  1. Motion to Reopen or Reconsider: This is a request to the USCIS to review the decision, usually due to new evidence or a claimed error in the initial decision-making process.
  2. Appeal: Certain denials can be appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).


  • AOS: Adjustment of Status
  • INA: Immigration and Nationality Act
  • USCIS: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • AAO: Administrative Appeals Office
  • BIA: Board of Immigration Appeals

Navigating the Legal Process

Strategies for Addressing AOS Denial:

  • Consult an Attorney: Seek legal advice to understand the specific reasons for denial and the appropriate response.
  • File Promptly: Be aware of deadlines for motions and appeals, as these are strictly enforced.

Citing Laws and Regulations: It’s imperative to refer to specific sections of the INA when contesting a denial. For instance, INA §212(a) lists grounds of inadmissibility, which are often cited in denial cases.

Conclusion and Professional Insight

As someone with extensive experience in the field, I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking professional legal counsel when dealing with AOS denials. The complexity of immigration law and the nuances of individual cases make personalized guidance essential.

FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is Adjustment of Status (AOS)? A1: AOS is the process by which eligible non-citizens already in the U.S. can apply for lawful permanent resident status without having to return to their home country for visa processing.

Q2: Can I reapply for AOS after a denial? A2: Yes, you can reapply for AOS after a denial, but it is crucial to address the reasons for the initial denial in your new application.

Q3: How long do I have to file a motion to reopen or reconsider a denial? A3: Typically, you have 30 days from the date of the decision to file a motion to reopen or reconsider with USCIS.

Q4: Can I stay in the U.S. while my appeal or motion is pending? A4: In many cases, you may remain in the U.S. while your appeal or motion is pending, but this does not apply to all situations. It’s best to consult with an attorney for advice based on your specific case.

Q5: If my AOS is denied, will I be deported immediately? A5: Not necessarily. You may have the option to file a motion or an appeal, and in some cases, you might be eligible for other forms of relief. Immediate deportation is not automatic but consult with an attorney immediately for your options.

Q6: Does a criminal conviction automatically result in AOS denial? A6: While certain criminal convictions can result in inadmissibility and AOS denial, each case is unique. Some waivers or other forms of relief may be available, depending on the circumstances.

Explore these articles:

  1. Exploring the Waiver for Aggravated Felony in U.S. Immigration Law
  2. How to Draft an Effective Writ of Mandamus Petition
  3. Understanding Detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement: How Long Can ICE Hold You in Jail?
  4. The Influence of Writ of Mandamus on Politics
  5. Navigating Legal Avenues: Writ of Mandamus and Access to Public Information
  6. Writ of Mandamus and Its Relationship with Constitutional Rights
  7. Emergency Stay Request: Your Legal Lifeline in Deportation Proceedings
  8. Green Card Holder Criminal Defense: Legal Relief and Expert Guidance
  9. A Deep Dive into Section 212a3c of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  10. Exploring Alternatives to Writs of Mandamus: Other Legal Remedies in Immigration
  11. Debunking Myths and Misconceptions: Common Reasons for Deportation
  12. How to Apply for the 212a6ci Waiver: A Step-by-Step Guide
  13. Immigration Court vs. Administrative Appeals: Choosing the Right Path
  14. Understanding Aggravated Assault 2nd-Degree Charges and Their Impact on Immigration Status
  15. Understanding the Role of USCIS in Immigration Proceedings

Feel free to click on the links to read these articles!