What Does USCIS Case Status “Case Was Denied” Mean for My Parent 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 has received and reviewed your parent’s green card application and decided not to grant your parent a green card. If USCIS denies your parent’s green card, 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 December 13, 2022

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

If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies your parent's green card application, it means USCIS has determined that your parent is not eligible to receive a green card. Your parent won’t receive lawful permanent residency, and you won’t get your filing fee returned.

When USCIS denies your parent’s green card, it’ll send a denial notice that explains the reason(s) for the denial. This explanation isn’t likely to soften the blow of disappointment after waiting all that time to get a green card for your parent. However, it’ll be useful information that can help you figure out what to do next. Some applicants choose to file an appeal or pursue other immigration options. Either of these paths may require additional legal help.

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

Getting a case denied notice or change in status usually comes after USCIS processes and evaluates your parent’s green card case and makes a decision. Several applications and petitions make up the overall application, but the most common forms you or your parent will need to file with USCIS or the National Visa Center (NVC) include:

  • Form-130: Petition for Alien Relative

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

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

Depending on your parent’s immigration status, they may also wish to apply for other benefits, such as Advance Parole to travel outside the U.S. or a work permit to work legally in the U.S. In these situations, they will need to submit additional forms to USCIS, such as:

Either of these forms and their associated benefits (to work or travel) can also be denied. 

Case Statuses You’ll See Before “Case Was Denied”

Before you see a case denial, you’ll receive several other case status updates. First, there’s “Case Received.” USCIS sends this status update by mailing Form I-797C: Notice of Action. This status means USCIS has received the application. This form also includes a receipt number, which you can use to check the status of your case online.

Second, there’s “Case Was Rejected.” USCIS will reject an application without processing or evaluating it if you make a mistake in the application. Common mistakes that lead to a case rejection include forgetting to sign a form or not providing the correct filing fee.

Third, if USCIS needs more information from you, you might receive a “Request for Additional Evidence” status update. If you get this, it means USCIS needs more evidence from you, typically in the form of documents so that it can verify the facts of your case.

Fourth, you could see, “Case Was Transferred.” This just means USCIS sent your application to a different service center for processing. 

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

No. As mentioned earlier, getting a case denied signals that USCIS has determined that your parent doesn’t qualify for a green card. Getting a case rejected is different because it has nothing to do with the merits of your parent’s eligibility to get a green card. In fact, a USCIS officer won’t even process your application if it’s been rejected. USCIS may reject your case if you’ve made a mistake when filing your forms or fee. Unlike when your case is denied, if your case is rejected, you can correct the mistake and refile the application without penalty.

USCIS issuing a case denial is more serious than a case rejection. Many applicants whose parent green card applications are denied choose to get outside legal help to figure out what to do next.

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

If USCIS denies your parent’s green card, you may feel discouraged and want to give up. But there may still be hope!

An immigration attorney will review your case and USCIS’s case denial notice. Depending on the facts, they can help you find another approach. If your attorney identifies a specific legal basis for an appeal, they can file an appeal on your behalf.

Another possibility is to apply for your parent’s green card again in the near future if something about their eligibility or case changes. This could work if a fact pattern or eligibility condition changes so that your parent becomes eligible to get a green card. You and your parent can then file new applications and send new filing fees to USCIS.

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

In straightforward parent green card applications, most people can probably handle the application process without hiring a lawyer. However, having a green card request denied by USCIS isn’t a straightforward green card application. For instance, if filing an appeal, you need to make legal arguments based on immigration case law. An experienced immigration attorney will know how to do this.