Top 4 Reason Why Your Green Card Renewal was Denied

Updated on June 19, 2023
At a Glance: Yes, a green card renewal request can be denied. The top reasons for a denial include committing a crime, providing incorrect information or lying on the renewal application, being ordered removed from the U.S., and using the wrong form. Other potential causes for denial include applying too early, traveling too much and risking green card abandonment, having unpaid taxes, and being viewed as a public charge. It is important to carefully follow the application guidelines and maintain compliance with immigration and tax laws to avoid denial.

This article was reviewed by Rohit Mittal – co-founder of Stilt, Inc, financial expert, and immigrant. To learn more about Rohit’s credentials, visit his LinkedIn, Substack, and Twitter.

Green cards last anywhere between two and ten years, and upon expiration, you are required to either apply for a renewal or leave the country. But there are instances which can shatter your chances of renewing a green card even if you meet all other criteria. Think of it like being put on a blacklist. In this article, we’ll explain green card renewal denial in detail.

Can a Green Card Renewal be Denied?

The green card process is complex, and the renewal process can be equally complicated. When you apply for a green card renewal, the USCIS and other involved agencies will look into whether your category of visa is eligible for an extension. Then, they will look into your personal affairs to determine whether or not to grant you a renewed green card.

So answering the question, yes, a green card renewal request can be denied.

Top 4 Reasons for a Green Card Renewal Being Denied

The most common reason for a denial is that the applicant is no longer a permanent resident. He may have violated certain rules, which led to the status revocation or simply because his visa type didn’t allow him to do so. Here are some of the top reasons for a green card renewal denial:

You Committed a Crime (I-90 Denial)

Once you have applied for green card renewal, the USCIS will conduct a background check. As part of the process, you’ll be asked to submit an I-90 and provide biometric data at an ASC. The biometric information will include your fingerprints and recent photos. This information is then passed on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to check against its database. If they find something, they’ll flag it so the USCIS can review it along with your application.

Generally speaking, any kind of crime is bad for your immigration status. But certain categories of crime, like an aggravated felony, smuggling, domestic violence, firearms offense, or murder attempt. put you at more significant risk. Two deportable crimes will result immediately in the I-90 denial.

You Provided Incorrect Information or Intentionally Lied on Your Renewal Application (I-90 Denial)

The USCIS receives nearly 500,000 applications every year for green card renewals. This puts a heavy burden on the agency. Therefore, the agency and the law firms you might be working with continually push you to provide the most accurate and updated information. Furthermore, if you made a mistake that the USCIS concludes was intentional, then it will not award you with green card renewal. The decision of whether or not it was intentional is solely at the discretion of the USCIS and its investigation.

To be safe, sign in all required places, take care there are no misspellings, attach all required evidence and documents, and attend the biometric interview on time. If you used a language interpreter, make note of it in your application, since translation errors are not uncommon.

You Were Ordered Removed (I-90 Denial)

If a judge ruled in favor of your deportation or removal from the U.S., it is referred to as “ordered removed.” Instances where you can be ordered removed are:

  • You signed a stipulated removal order
  • Immigration officials processed the Expedited Removal paperwork at the time of crossing the border (which is different than refused entry)

The visa categories which are based on a “suspension of removal” like Z11, Z13, Z14, and Z15 are different from ordered removed. So, it’s not to be confused.

You Used the Wrong Form

Form I-90 used for two different purposes, either to renew or to replace your green card. Which one to submit depends on how you obtained your green card.

If you’re a conditional resident who obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. resident, you should not submit I-90 to renew it. Conditional residents should only use I-90 if their card is lost, stolen, or damaged. To remove the condition, they are required to file I-751 or I-829 (for investors).

Many people submit the wrong form which results in rejection.

Other Potential Causes for a Green Card Renewal to be Denied

Besides the above reasons, various other cases also result in green card renewal failure. Unlike the previous reasons, these can be easily avoided with proper diligence.

You Applied Too Early

The USCIS requests that you only apply for a green card renewal within six months of its expiration. This is because things can change, which would make your application out of date, and may result in reconsideration. While it’s unlikely that the agency will deny you green card renewal if you apply too early, it will most likely reject or return your application.

This will cost you valuable time and money since the fees are non-refundable. Therefore, you should file the renewal application no more than six months in advance.

You’ve Traveled Too Much

Traveling doesn’t have any direct implication on your green card renewal, but it may have indirect consequences. For example, as you might be aware, green card holders who stay outside of the United States for six months or more may face the risk of status or green card abandonment. The USCIS will assume that you have decided to abandon your green card even if that’s not the case.

This could put your green card status at risk and your renewal requests too. It’s even worse if your green card has expired by the time you return to the United States.

The best way to handle this is to update the USCIS of your absence and reasons for staying abroad. Respond to every communication in a timely fashion, whether it be via email or phone.

You Have Unpaid Taxes

Every U.S. citizen and immigrant working in the country is obliged to file an income tax return every year. If you, being a green card holder, missed the date on a few occasions, it can become a problem when you renew. You will have to attend an additional round of interviews, face prosecution, and be fined for it, but it is unlikely that your I-90 application will be denied. This can be solved by setting up a payment plan. It is advised to sort this out before, if time permits, submitting your I-90.

You’re a Public Charge

The federal government has always been against immigrants who are likely to become a public charge in the future. Therefore, immigration and green card guidelines have become more and more stringent over the years. So if you receive a large number of public benefits, you may be viewed as a public charge, which would result in I-90 denial. The new public charge rules are, however, not going to affect your application.

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When applying for your green card renewal, it is always advised to follow the above measures. Once denied, it is next to impossible to regain a renewal. Again, if you’re unsure of anything related to Form I-90, get in touch with a registered immigration attorney to help you out.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.