What Does USCIS Case Status “Case Was Denied” Mean for My Sibling 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 sibling green card application and decided not to grant your sibling a green card. If USCIS denies your sibling 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.

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Written December 26, 2022

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

If USCIS denies your sibling’s green card application, it’s because the agency concluded that your sibling didn’t qualify for lawful permanent resident status. In other words, USCIS feels your sibling isn’t eligible to get a green card.


USCIS denies a sibling green card application by mailing out a denial notice. In this notice, USCIS gives the reason(s) for the case denial. If USCIS denies your sibling’s green card case, USCIS doesn’t refund the filing fee.


Getting a “Case Was Denied” notice from USCIS can be deflating, but it doesn’t automatically mean your sibling can’t get a green card. If USCIS made a mistake, you may be eligible to file an appeal. To appeal successfully, you’ll probably want legal help.


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

The sibling green card application process requires you and/or your sibling to complete multiple forms. A case denial will typically occur after USCIS processes a particular form and makes a decision on it. The majority of sibling green card applications consist of the same common forms that get processed by USCIS or the National Visa Center, including

  • DS-260: Immigrant Visa Electronic Application

  • Form-130: Petition for Alien Relative

  • Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status


Often, someone seeking a green card will also apply for additional immigration benefits, like a work permit or Advance Parole. As is the case with the green card, these benefits require you or your sibling to fill out and file more forms, like:


Statuses You’ll See Before a Case Denial

In addition to getting a case denial status update from one or more of the above forms, you may see other status updates during the green card application process. Below are four of the more common ones you might see.

Case Was Received

This is a good case status update, and USCIS sends this out by mailing Form I-797C: Notice of Action. This document confirms that USCIS has the sibling green card application and will begin processing it. Included in Form I-797C is a receipt number. You can use this number to follow the status of your case online.


Case Was Rejected

If you see this from USCIS, it means the agency sent back the application (and filing fee) because there was a procedural or technical error with it. For example, you might have used the wrong version of a required form or forgotten to sign a page.


Request for Additional Evidence Was Sent

USCIS provides this status update when they want more information to verify what’s been put on a green card petition or application. USCIS will want you and/or your sibling to provide additional evidence, often in the form of documentation.


Case Was Transferred

USCIS will sometimes transfer green card application cases to different service centers. One reason is that the petitioner or beneficiary originally sent it to the wrong service center. USCIS has the discretion to either reject this application or transfer it to the correct service center. Another reason a case could get transferred is that a particular service center has unused processing capacity and can take on additional work.


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

No. A case rejection occurs when there’s an error or mistake with the green card filing. The good news is that USCIS provides the reason(s) for rejecting a case, and you’ll have the opportunity to fix the mistake and refile it. You’ll also get your filing fee back. The bad news is that a case rejection can add extra time to the process of getting your sibling a green card.


A case denial is more serious because it means USCIS has determined that your sibling isn’t eligible for a green card. You also don’t get your filing fee returned for a case denial. For many people, dealing with a case denial may warrant talking to a lawyer about what to do next.


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

Your best bet is to talk to an attorney. They’ll listen to your situation and explain your options. 

For example, the facts of your case might provide grounds for an appeal. Talking to an attorney helps determine if that’s the case. If so, hiring an attorney can help you get through the complicated appeals process.

Alternatively, your situation might support the decision to apply for a sibling green card again. An immigration attorney will know if there’s a particular fact pattern or eligibility requirement that now applies (or will soon apply) that wasn’t a consideration when you originally filed your sibling’s green card application.


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

For many sibling green card applications, hiring a lawyer isn’t necessary. But if you receive a case denial from USCIS, your case is no longer straightforward. As a result, you’ll likely want to connect with an experienced and vetted immigration attorney to better understand what’s going on and what to do next.


For example, let’s say your sibling was ruled ineligible to get a green card because they were deemed inadmissible. There’s a process where you can challenge that determination by requesting a waiver of inadmissibility. A lawyer would know if that was a viable option and, if so, help you through the waiver process.