Can I-485 Be Denied After I-130 is Approved?

Navigating the Complexities of Immigration

The journey through the U.S. immigration process is often intricate and multifaceted. One common concern among applicants is whether their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, can be denied after their Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, has been approved. This article will explore the various aspects of this issue in detail, providing valuable insights and guidance for those navigating this complex process.

Understanding Form I-130 and Form I-485

Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative

Form I-130 is a petition filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to establish a qualifying relationship with a foreign relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States. Approval of the I-130 petition is a critical first step in the immigration process, as it confirms the legitimacy of the familial relationship. However, it does not grant any immigration status or benefits by itself.

Form I-485: Application to Adjust Status

Form I-485 is filed by the foreign relative once the I-130 petition has been approved and an immigrant visa is available. This application is for adjusting the foreign relative’s status to that of a lawful permanent resident while they are in the United States. The approval of Form I-485 grants the applicant a green card, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. permanently.

Reasons Why I-485 May Be Denied After I-130 Approval

Even after the I-130 petition is approved, several factors can lead to the denial of Form I-485. Here are some key reasons why this might happen:

1. Inadmissibility Issues

The applicant must be admissible to the United States. Inadmissibility can arise from various grounds, including but not limited to:

  • Criminal History: Certain criminal convictions can render an applicant inadmissible.
  • Health Issues: Communicable diseases or failure to provide required vaccinations can be grounds for denial.
  • Security Concerns: Involvement in terrorist activities or espionage can lead to inadmissibility.
  • Immigration Violations: Previous immigration fraud or misrepresentation, unlawful presence, or deportation orders can affect admissibility.

2. Insufficient Financial Support

Applicants must demonstrate that they will not become a public charge, meaning they will not rely on government assistance. The sponsor (usually the petitioner of the I-130) must file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, proving they can financially support the applicant. Failure to meet the required income threshold can result in denial.

3. Failure to Meet Eligibility Requirements

Specific eligibility requirements must be met to adjust status:

  • Continuous Residence: Applicants must have maintained continuous residence in the U.S. and should not have violated their visa status.
  • Valid Entry: The applicant must have entered the U.S. legally and have a valid visa status at the time of application.
  • No Prior Unauthorized Employment: Unauthorized employment can be a ground for denial, although there are exceptions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

4. Errors or Omissions in the Application

Incomplete or inaccurate information on the Form I-485 can lead to denial. It is crucial to provide thorough and accurate details and include all necessary documentation. Common mistakes include:

  • Missing Signatures: Every form must be properly signed.
  • Incorrect Fees: The correct filing fee must be included with the application.
  • Insufficient Evidence: Lack of supporting documents to prove eligibility.

How to Avoid I-485 Denial After I-130 Approval

To minimize the risk of denial, applicants should take the following steps:

1. Thoroughly Review Eligibility Criteria

Understanding and meeting all eligibility requirements is crucial. Applicants should carefully review the criteria and ensure they qualify before submitting Form I-485.

2. Provide Complete and Accurate Information

Applicants must complete the form accurately and include all required information and documentation. Double-checking the form for accuracy and completeness can prevent errors that might lead to denial.

3. Seek Legal Assistance

Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide valuable guidance and help navigate complex issues. An attorney can assist in preparing the application, ensuring all requirements are met, and addressing any potential problems.

4. Prepare for the Interview

Applicants should be prepared for the adjustment of status interview, which is a critical part of the process. Being honest and forthcoming during the interview and providing clear and concise answers can positively impact the outcome.

What to Do If Your I-485 Is Denied

If your Form I-485 is denied, it is important to understand the reasons for the denial and take appropriate action:

1. Review the Denial Notice

The denial notice will provide specific reasons for the denial. Carefully reviewing this notice can help determine the next steps.

2. File an Appeal or Motion

In some cases, it may be possible to file an appeal or a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision. This must be done within a specific timeframe and typically requires additional evidence or arguments.

3. Reapply

If the issues that led to the denial can be resolved, it may be possible to reapply. Addressing the reasons for the previous denial and ensuring all eligibility requirements are met can improve the chances of approval.

4. Seek Legal Counsel

An immigration attorney can provide guidance on the best course of action following a denial. They can help understand the reasons for the denial and explore options for moving forward.


While the approval of Form I-130 is a significant step in the immigration process, it does not guarantee the approval of Form I-485. Understanding the reasons why Form I-485 may be denied and taking proactive steps to address potential issues can improve the chances of a successful outcome. By providing complete and accurate information, meeting all eligibility requirements, and seeking legal assistance when needed, applicants can navigate the adjustment of status process more effectively.