What Does USCIS Case Status “Case Was Denied” Mean for My Marriage Green Card Application?

In a Nutshell

If you see “Case Was Denied” as your USCIS case status online, it means that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received and reviewed your marriage green card application and decided not to grant your spouse a green card. If USCIS denies your marriage green card application case, it’ll send you a denial notice explaining why. It can be disheartening to go through months of processing for a green card only to have your case denied. If this happens, you may want to get legal advice about the next steps. If you decide to appeal your case, you’ll want to have a good immigration attorney at your side.

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated February 6, 2023

My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Was Denied.” What Does That Mean for My Marriage Green Card Application?

If you see a “Case Was Denied” notification from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it means the agency has determined your spouse isn’t eligible to receive a marriage green card.

Besides learning that USCIS has denied your marriage green card application, you’ll also learn the reason(s) for the denial. This probably won’t make you feel any better, but it may offer information that can help you decide what to do next. Depending on why USCIS issued a denial, you may be able to appeal it. 

Where in the Marriage Green Card Application Process Might I See “Case Denied” as My Status?

You’ll see this case status update at the end of the application process, after USCIS or the National Visa Center (NVC) receives and processes your application. Depending on the circumstances of your case, this could take several months. 

You’re most likely going to see a case denial after you or your spouse send the following forms to USCIS or NVC:

  • USCIS Form-130: Petition for Alien Relative

  • USCIS Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (if your spouse is applying from the U.S. for an adjustment of status)

  • DS-260: Immigrant Visa Electronic Application (if your spouse is applying via consular processing from outside the U.S.)

The “Case Denied” status could also come up after submitting other forms to USCIS if you’re seeking immigration benefits while you wait for a green card. For example, there’s Form I-131: Application for Travel Document to travel outside the U.S. with Advance Parole or Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization to request a work permit while waiting for the marriage green card.

Other Case Statuses You Might See Before a Case Denial

As mentioned earlier, a case denial comes at the end of the immigration application process. Before that occurs, you’ll see other case status notifications.

The first one will likely be “Case Received.” You can see this notification if you check your case status online using your receipt number shortly after submitting your application. USCIS will also send this update by mailing out Form I-797C: Notice of Action, which contains your receipt number.

After getting the “Case Received” notification, several other statuses could appear anytime. For example, there’s a “Request for Additional Evidence” status update. This means USCIS needs more information from you to process the immigration application. Often they’ll ask for certain documents to verify the facts of your application. You may also see a “Case Was Transferred” status, which means your application is getting sent to a different USCIS service center.

Does the Case Status “Case Was Denied” Mean the Same Thing as “Case Was Rejected”?

No, it doesn’t. As mentioned above, “Case Rejected” means USCIS won’t process your application. Instead, it will return it to you to fix the mistake(s). These mistakes might include a missing signature on a form or filing the form using the wrong mailing address. The worst thing about a case rejection is that it delays the application process. Generally speaking, having a case rejected isn’t the end of the immigration application process as you can fix the error and refile your application.

In contrast, “Case Denied” is a more serious case status because USCIS has concluded that it won’t be issuing a marriage green card. Put another way, USCIS has determined that your spouse isn’t eligible to get a green card.

What Should I Do if My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Denied” for My Marriage Green Card Case?

It can be disheartening to have a marriage green card case denied after spending all that money, effort, and time, only to end up where you started. But don’t give up hope just yet. You may still have options, and an immigration attorney can help you discover them.

After reviewing your marriage green card case, the immigration lawyer might find one or more reasons to appeal the decision. They can then help you with the appeals process. Or they might advise you to reapply for a marriage green card case if something about your spouse’s eligibility changes. A lawyer will help identify these options and explain which one you should use to help get your spouse lawful permanent residency status.

When Should I Contact an Immigration Attorney About My Marriage Green Card Case?

Most applicants can address most case status updates that don’t involve a case denial. The issues tend to be straightforward and easily handled on your own (or don’t require you to do anything). But a case denial is different and typically involves a more complex analysis of immigration law and applicable regulations.