Written by attorney Carl Michael Shusterman

What to Do if USCIS Denies Your Case

After months and sometimes even years of waiting for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services ( (USCIS) to issue a decision on your application or petition, the day finally comes when you receive a notice from USCIS. Unfortunately, instead of receiving the much anticipated approval notice, you are faced with a denial notice. Is the denial of your application or petition the end of the road to your immigration journey? Is it time for you to pack your bags and book your airline ticket home?

Before you give up hope, you should carefully review the denial notice and look for a few things such as:

  • Did USCIS make a mistake?
  • Is there any information in the denial notice inconsistent with your application or petition?
  • Were you given an avenue in which to contest the decision?

Yes, even USCIS can make mistakes (! After all, no system is ever failsafe and, after all, it is a human being reviewing and working on your application or petition. Just imagine having to review and adjudicate endless applications, day after day. Some mistakes are very easy to spot: for instance if the denial notice refers to information inconsistent with your application or petition; the denial notice incorrectly claims that you failed to submit requested evidence; or the denial notice erroneously claims that you untimely filed your application or petition. These are but a few examples of mistakes USCIS can make. If you have received a denial notice with any of these mistakes, you are in luck. These types of denials are the easiest to overcome.

However, not all USCIS mistakes are clearly identifiable. What if USCIS denied your application or petition based on a misinterpretation or improper application of a law, regulation or relevant caselaw? Will you able to spot this type of mistake? If you believe that you qualified for the immigration benefit you were requesting and yet your application or petition was denied by USCIS, you should promply seek a legal opinion on this matter from an experienced immigration attorney.

Depending on your particular situation, you may be advised to appeal the USCIS decision, submit a motion to reopen/reconsider the decsion or to simply re-file your application or petition. You may even be informed that although you do not actually qualify for the benefit you were seeking, there are other visas to which you do qualify for and should consider. Sadly, you may also be informed that USCIS correctly denied your application or petition and that it will be a waste of your time and money to further pursue the matter. Still, wouldn’t you rather know the truth, harsh as it may be, than be given false hope?

So, if you have received a denial notice from USCIS, don’t pack your bags yet—get your immigration case reviewed first. Regardless of the outcome of the review, in the end, you will have a better understanding of your case and you will be informed of all your immigration options.

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