Can I Be Denied a Green Card If I Married a United States Citizen?

Marrying a United States citizen opens up a relatively straightforward path to obtaining lawful permanent residency, commonly known as a green card. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) generally regards marriage between a U.S. citizen and a foreign national as a strong basis for immigration. However, marriage to a U.S. citizen is not a guaranteed ticket to permanent residency. There are several reasons why someone could be denied a green card despite being married to a U.S. citizen.

Fraudulent Marriage

The USCIS is vigilant about preventing sham or fraudulent marriages designed solely to confer immigration benefits. If authorities have reasonable grounds to suspect that the marriage is not genuine, the application for a green card may be denied. Applicants may be subjected to rigorous interviews and may need to provide substantial evidence to prove that their marriage is authentic. In some cases, USCIS officers might even visit the home or question friends and family members.

Criminal History

A criminal background can seriously jeopardize one’s eligibility for a green card. Certain criminal offenses, like aggravated felonies, drug trafficking, or crimes involving moral turpitude, can make an individual inadmissible under U.S. immigration law. This applies regardless of marital status with a U.S. citizen.

Financial Ineligibility

The U.S. citizen spouse must demonstrate the financial capability to support the foreign spouse. They must file an Affidavit of Support showing that their income is at least 125% above the federal poverty line for their household size. Failure to meet this requirement can lead to denial of the green card application unless the foreign spouse has other compelling financial assets.

Immigration Violations

Past immigration violations, such as overstaying a visa, illegal entry, or working without authorization, can affect green card eligibility. While waivers are available for some immigration violations if the applicant can demonstrate that denial of the green card would result in extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse, these waivers are not always granted. About our firm.

Health Reasons

Applicants are required to pass a medical examination as part of the green card application process. Certain health conditions, like contagious diseases of public health significance, can result in inadmissibility. While waivers may be available for some medical grounds of inadmissibility, they are not guaranteed.

National Security Concerns

National security is a top priority for U.S. immigration authorities. Applicants who pose a security risk, as indicated by various background checks, will be denied a green card. This includes suspected ties to terrorist organizations or involvement in activities that pose a threat to the United States.


While marriage to a U.S. citizen improves the chances of securing a green card, it’s far from a guarantee. It’s crucial to be aware of the factors that can result in denial, such as fraudulent marriage, financial inadequacy, or a criminal background. Consulting an experienced immigration attorney can offer personalized advice tailored to your situation, increasing your chances of a successful application. Read more.