Can the I-130 be Denied?

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • The I-130, or Petition for Alien Relative, is a form initiating family-based immigration for a relative from another country to obtain permanent residency (a green card) in the United States.
  • The process can take months to years, and the petition can be denied for reasons such as insufficient information, lack of proof of relationship, failure to pay fees, or mistakes by USCIS.
  • If denied, one can appeal or refile the petition, and seeking assistance from an immigration attorney is advisable.

As a person working on a temporary visa in the United States, the chances are that when you get your permanent residency or citizenship, you will also want to bring your family close with you. But what happens if the I-130 petition is denied? Can it happen? And if it does, is there anything that you could have done to prevent that? Well, this article should be able to act as your guide on the matter.

What Is an I-130?

The I-130 also referred to as Petition for Alien Relative, is used to help a relative from your home country to gain permanent residency within the US (in other words, a green card status). The I-130 is the form that starts the processing for family-based immigration, establishing that there is indeed a relationship between the petitioner and the person that wishes to immigrate to the United States.

This petition is also a request sent by the petitioner to reserve a visa for his immediate family member. Depending on the relationship type that both individuals have, along with the demand in the petitions, the process might take anything from several months to several years.

Bear in mind that filing for the I-130 does not mean that your petition will be immediately accepted. It is just the first step – albeit a lengthy one, which is why you might want to take it as soon as possible.

Can an I-130 Be Denied?

Yes, the I-130, like any other visa petition, can also be denied. USCIS denies thousands of such petitions every year – and while the reasons may vary, some of them may be easily avoided. If your petition for an alien relative visa is rejected, you first need to figure out the reason why that happened as well as what you can do to fix it. In most of those cases, the reasoning is as simple as just adding a few more documents.

Top Reasons for an I-130 Denial

As mentioned, there are quite a few reasons why your USCIS petition may have been denied. In most cases, if it was because of any of the issues below, you will have received a notification beforehand, allowing you to fix the issue before you were completely denied the visa. In the prior notification, you may still have had the chance to add the follow-up documentation.

Overall, here are the main reasons why your visa petition may have been denied.

1. You Didn’t Offer Enough Information

For USCIS to make an informed decision, you will need to provide them all the info that they asked for on the documentation list. If you “conveniently” skip some of them, USCIS will not magically forget about it and give you a pass. They will label the case as not having enough information. So, if you go through the list of necessary documents and see that you are missing a few bits, then you’ll understand why your I-130 petition got denied.

2. Not Enough Family Relationship Proof

You’ll be surprised how many I-130 petitions get denied lately simply because the petitioner failed to bring enough proof of relationship. USCIS is very cautious about this issue because if they aren’t, many people would try to fraudulently bring people in the U.S. that are not precisely closely related.

For this reason, one of the key components of filing this petition is ensuring that you bring proof of a close relationship (e.g. birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.). If the documents that you submitted were badly photocopied or are in any way difficult to read, then your petition might be denied.

Proving your relationship might also be quite confusing if you are not careful enough. Some people, for example, might not realize that they have to provide both the birth certificate of the child along with the marriage certificate of the parents. This is needed to prove that their marriage happened before the child turned 18 years old.

3. Failure to Pay the Necessary Fees

USCIS regularly changes its fees, most of the time going upward. If you don’t pay the right amount at the time of filing the petition, or if USCIS loses your payment (sometimes, it happens), then there is a chance that your visa might be rejected. It might not seem possible to you, but you’ll be surprised to know how often that actually happens.

Let’s say that you applied for this visa before, for your spouse, and at that time of application, the fee was smaller. Now, let’s say that you also want to bring your parents to live in the U.S. – and obviously, you send a money order for the same fee that you did last time.

However, little did you know that the fee changed since the last time you applied, and now it is slightly higher. So, even if you added a partial amount, it will still be considered incomplete because you did not add the entire sum.

4. Not Enough Proof of Permanent Resident or Citizenship Status.

In order for you to petition for your relatives to receive a green card under your U.S. status, you first need to prove that you have permanent residency or citizenship. For that, you will need a valid green card. If you try to petition for your relative and provide a photocopy of an expired green card, it’s safe to say that your petition will likely be denied.

5. A Mistake from USCIS

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your petitions may be denied simply because USCIS made a mistake. You may have provided every piece of paperwork requested – but USCIS still labeled your petition as “denied.” It’s an honest mistake, and while it is frustrating, you may have better luck next time.

What to Do If Your I-130 Is Denied

In the event that your I-130 is denied, you might appeal for the USCIS green card if you are positive you did everything by the book. However, it is much easier to simply start over and file again. This way, you will have the advantage of not attempting to convince USCIS that they made a mistake – something they obviously wouldn’t like to admit. Nothing stops you from filing for a new I-130 Alien Relative visa whenever you need it.

Also, if you are not convinced where you went wrong, you might want to go for the help of an immigration attorney. They will tell you exactly what you need to add in the file so that it does not get denied a second time. Granted, it might take a few extra bucks – but considering that you are spared the frustrations and the stress, the price is actually worth it. They assisted similar cases before, so they already know what has to be done.

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Final Thoughts

Indeed, sometimes, USCIS might deny your I-130 petition. However, this does not mean that you cannot apply again until you get it right. No matter if you appeal or you apply again, you can resolve the issue if you bring the right information to the table.

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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.

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