So far we have discussed how the USCIS arrives at its decision to either accept or reject immigrant applicants based on discretionary analysis—the weighing of the positive and negative factors in ones application package. In addition, there can also be incomplete applications, in which case the USCIS will have no choice but to submit an RFE to the applicant or reject their case outright. If the latter happens, it can be confusing and upsetting after waiting months for a decision, often with no better alternative on the table.

What happens if my application is denied?

If your application is denied by the USICS, the most common procedure that rejected applicants can do for themselves and their families is to file an appeal and contest the decision. In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed by a higher authority, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. In immigration law and for the purposes of this posting, we’ll simply focus on how applicants can request such a formal change by filling out the correct paperwork.

The Process

In order to get started, rejected applicants need to know what form they are going to file based on the application that was rejected. For example, N-400 applicants who are rejected do not fill out the same form as I-130 petitions that are rejected. In addition, I-485 applicants cannot file an appeal without first filing what is called a motion, meaning a written request or proposal to the court to obtain an asked-for order, ruling, or direction.

The Forms Needed

In order to file an appeal for a rejected I-130 application, former applicants need to file Form I-290B with the USCIS. The form can be found here:

On this form, in Part 2, applicants will be asked to check off the correct box pertaining to their case. Form I-290B is used for both appeals and motions. If you are a rejected I-130 applicant, you do not need to file a motion. The main category of motions filed are for rejected I-485 applicants, as mentioned above. 

Fees and Processing Time

It’s not cheap to file an appeal with the USCIS contesting your case decision. Each I-290B submitted has a $675 fee attached. Applicants need to make their payments via the website.

In addition, an appeal according to immigration law needs to be filed within 30 days of the original notice of rejection. This means 30 days from the date on the rejection letter, but not necessarily the date it has arrived in the mail given the delay by the postal service. The USCIS has commented on processing times and notes that a final decision is made on appeals on an average of 180 days (6 months processing).

USCIS I-130 Denial Case Decision I-485 N-400