What Does USCIS Case Status “Case Denied” Mean for My Work Permit?

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 Form I-765 application and decided not to grant you a work permit. If USCIS denies your work permit case, it will send you a denial notice explaining why. It can be disheartening to go through months of processing for employment authorization only to have your case denied. If this happens, you may want to get legal advice about the next steps.

Written by Kassandra Kuehl
Written December 15, 2022

My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Was Denied.” What Does That Mean for My Work Permit Application?

If your case status says “Case Was Denied,” then USCIS has reviewed your application and determined you are not eligible for a work permit. Keep an eye on your mailbox for a detailed denial notice from USCIS. This denial notice will explain why USCIS is declining to grant you a work permit. 

This setback can feel frustrating, as you’ve worked hard and waited a long time to get a work permit. But all hope of achieving your goal may not be lost. An attorney can give you personalized guidance about appealing your case and/or exploring immigration alternatives.

Where in the Work Permit Application Process Might I See “Case Denied” as My Status?

You’ll see “Case Denied” after your request has been fully reviewed by USCIS. This means that the agency considered all aspects of your Form I-765 and determined that you are not eligible for an employment authorization document (EAD). But before you see a denial, you may see several other statuses in your USCIS account:

  • “Case Was Received”: You will see this after you initially submitted your application. You also receive a formal receipt notice with your receipt number in the mail.

  • Case Rejected”: If there is a filing issue with your Form I-765, USCIS will reject your application and return your filing fee until you correct that error and resubmit it with the filing fee. 

  • “Request for Additional Evidence Was Sent”: If USCIS needs any additional information or verification from you, it will issue this status. You will receive a detailed notice in the mail explaining what to do.

  • “Case Was Transferred”: USCIS sometimes transfers cases to another service center. They can do this for a variety of reasons, but it is not a negative event, and you don’t need to do anything.

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

No, having your case rejected is not the same as having it denied.

A case denial means that USCIS has reviewed your application and determined that you’re not eligible to receive a work permit. If you receive a denial, you may need legal help to appeal your case or find another pathway to an EAD.

By contrast, having your case rejected simply means that you made a filing error, and USCIS can’t review your work permit application until you've fixed it. Navigating the process of fixing your error can be frustrating, but it is doable — usually without the help of an attorney. Read the notification from USCIS explaining what went wrong, fix your error, and resubmit your application with the filing fee that was returned to you. Once it has been received, USCIS will begin reviewing your work permit request again.

What Should I Do if My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Denied” for My Work Permit Case?

If your work permit application has been denied, you can’t simply resubmit another Form I-765 for review unless some aspect of your eligibility has changed. There are complicated laws around what makes someone eligible for employment authorization, so you should not go down this path alone.

Your best option at this time is likely to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer about appealing or pursuing an alternative work-based opportunity to remain in the U.S. A lawyer can assess your unique circumstances and guide you toward the path most likely to result in achieving your desired end goal. 

When Should I Contact an Immigration Attorney About My Work Permit Case?

It’s possible to file a Form I-765 work permit application successfully without hiring an attorney. However, after you’ve learned that your work permit case has been denied, speaking with an experienced immigration lawyer is likely your best next step. A lawyer can pinpoint what led to this denial and help you make informed decisions about your options. For example, you may be in a strong position to appeal your case, or you might be better served by filing a different kind of work-related application or petition.