What Happens if I-485 is Denied?


  1. Introduction
    • Importance of the I-485 application
    • Brief overview of potential denial
  2. Understanding the I-485 Application
    • What is the I-485?
    • Eligibility criteria for I-485
  3. Common Reasons for Denial
    • Incomplete application
    • Ineligibility
    • Criminal history
    • Inadequate supporting documentation
  4. Immediate Steps After Denial
    • Receiving the denial notice
    • Understanding the reasons for denial
  5. Reviewing the Denial Notice
    • How to interpret the notice
    • Common terminologies explained
  6. Legal Options Available
    • Filing a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider
    • Appealing to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO)
  7. Reapplying for I-485
    • Eligibility to reapply
    • Addressing previous issues
  8. Impact on Immigration Status
    • Temporary protected status
    • Deportation risk
  9. Consulting with an Immigration Attorney
    • When to seek legal advice
    • Finding a reputable immigration lawyer
  10. Preparing for a Motion to Reopen
    • Gathering new evidence
    • Drafting a strong legal argument
  11. Filing an Appeal with AAO
    • Appeal process explained
    • Timeline and expectations
  12. Alternatives to Adjustment of Status
    • Consular processing
    • Other visa options
  13. Preventing Future Denials
    • Best practices for application
    • Importance of thorough documentation
  14. Frequently Asked Questions
    • What is the success rate for appeals?
    • How long does it take to process a Motion to Reopen?
    • Can I stay in the US while my appeal is pending?
    • What should I do if I’m facing deportation?
    • How can an attorney help in my case?
  15. Conclusion
    • Recap of key points
    • Encouragement to seek professional help



The I-485 application, also known as the Adjustment of Status application, is a critical step for many immigrants seeking to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. However, receiving a denial can be a significant setback. So, what happens if your I-485 is denied? This article will explore the implications, steps to take following a denial, and potential options available to you.

Understanding the I-485 Application

The I-485 application is used by immigrants to apply for a Green Card while living in the United States. This process is known as “Adjustment of Status.” To be eligible for this application, you must meet specific criteria, including being physically present in the U.S. and having a qualifying immigrant petition.

Common Reasons for Denial

Understanding why an I-485 application might be denied is crucial for addressing and potentially overcoming the issue. Some common reasons for denial include:

  • Incomplete Application: Missing or incorrect information can lead to a denial.
  • Ineligibility: Not meeting the basic eligibility requirements, such as having a qualifying family relationship or employment offer.
  • Criminal History: Certain criminal records can disqualify an applicant.
  • Inadequate Supporting Documentation: Failing to provide sufficient evidence to support your application.

Immediate Steps After Denial

Receiving a denial notice can be disheartening, but it’s essential to act promptly. The first step is to carefully read the denial notice, which will detail the reasons for the decision and provide guidance on what to do next.

Reviewing the Denial Notice

The denial notice contains critical information about why your application was denied. It is crucial to understand the reasons outlined in this notice to determine your next steps. Look for common terminologies such as “inadmissible,” “insufficient evidence,” or “ineligible.”

Legal Options Available

If your I-485 is denied, several legal options may be available:

  • Filing a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider: This motion is used if you have new evidence or believe there was a mistake in the original decision.
  • Appealing to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO): This involves a formal appeal process where you can argue that the denial was incorrect based on the evidence and the law.

Reapplying for I-485

In some cases, reapplying for I-485 may be possible. To do this, you’ll need to address the issues that led to the initial denial. This might involve gathering additional documentation or resolving eligibility issues.

Impact on Immigration Status

A denial of your I-485 application can have significant implications for your immigration status. If you were previously in the U.S. under a different visa, your status might revert to that visa, or you might be at risk of deportation. Temporary protected status might offer some relief in certain situations.

Consulting with an Immigration Attorney

Given the complexity of immigration law, consulting with an immigration attorney can be highly beneficial. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your options, prepare necessary documentation, and represent you in legal proceedings.

Preparing for a Motion to Reopen

If you decide to file a Motion to Reopen, it’s essential to gather new, compelling evidence that supports your case. This could include additional affidavits, new documents, or correcting any errors in the initial application.

Filing an Appeal with AAO

Appealing to the AAO involves submitting a detailed argument as to why the denial was incorrect. The appeal process can be lengthy, and having legal representation can improve your chances of success.

Alternatives to Adjustment of Status

If reapplying or appealing isn’t viable, other options may include consular processing, where you apply for a Green Card through a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. Other visa categories might also be an option depending on your circumstances.

Preventing Future Denials

To prevent future denials, it’s essential to follow best practices when preparing your application. This includes thoroughly reviewing eligibility criteria, providing comprehensive documentation, and seeking legal advice if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the success rate for appeals?
    • The success rate varies based on the specifics of each case and the quality of the appeal. Consulting an attorney can increase your chances.
  2. How long does it take to process a Motion to Reopen?
    • Processing times can vary, but it typically takes several months. It’s crucial to submit a well-prepared motion to avoid further delays.
  3. Can I stay in the US while my appeal is pending?
    • In many cases, you can remain in the U.S. while your appeal is pending, but this depends on your specific situation and previous immigration status.
  4. What should I do if I’m facing deportation?
    • Seek immediate legal assistance. An attorney can help explore options such as filing for asylum, cancellation of removal, or other forms of relief.
  5. How can an attorney help in my case?
    • An attorney can provide expert advice, help prepare your documentation, represent you in legal proceedings, and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.


Facing a denial of your I-485 application can be daunting, but understanding your options and taking the right steps can help you navigate this challenging situation. Whether it’s filing a motion, reapplying, or seeking alternative paths to legal residency, professional legal guidance can be invaluable. Remember, each case is unique, and taking informed action is crucial for your future in the United States.