What are the possible outcomes for an immigration case?
If you have submitted an immigration petition, you are likely to receive one of 4 basic decisions: approved, request for more information, intent to deny, or denied. Your next steps depend on the type of decision you receive.
Immigration decision: approved
This is the best outcome. If you fill out your application completely and include all requested documents, you are more likely to be approved.
If you have been approved for a green card, you will first receive a welcome notice, then your green card. You should have both within 2 months of approval, often sooner.
Processing of approved immigrant visas depends on the category you’ve applied in. So even if your petition has been approved, it may be years before you can actually get your visa to enter the US. Non-immigrant visas, like F-1 student visas or H-1B visas, are generally ready for pick-up a few days after approval.
Immigration decision: request for evidence (RFE)
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the USCIS decides it does not have enough information to make a decision. You or your sponsor may not have sent all of the required evidence, or the officer reviewing your application feels they needs more evidence.
For example, getting an H1-B visa requires proof of an employer-employee relationship, like a signed employment agreement or employment offer letter. Without this, the petition can’t be approved. The RFE will tell you what documents to send and to where. You usually have from 30 to 60 days to respond. If you cannot get all the documents the RFE asks for, send in what you do have. The USCIS will make a decision based on your “partial response.”
If you’re already in the US and the delay caused by an RFE means your current visa will expire before you get a decision, you may be able to stay in the country until you receive a decision. Check with an immigration lawyer to be sure.
Immigration decision: intent to deny (NOID)
This is not an actual decision, but a warning that the USCIS believes you are ineligible to receive the benefit you applied for and plans to send you a denial. Like with an RFE, you can send in more evidence to support your application.
Immigration decision: denied
In the worst case, you will receive a notice of denial. This means you will not be able to enter the country. If you are in the U.S., you will have to leave before your current visa expires. If your visa has already expired but you were allowed to stay because your application was pending, you will need to leave immediately.
Your notice will include a reason why it was denied. Some kinds of denials can be appealed and will include instructions on the appeals process and a deadline (usually 30 days). If you are facing deportation, contact an immigration lawyer to help you with your case.