Sometimes, the ruling is permanent and won’t be considered for appeal. However, there are many reasons why a green card is denied that can be appealed. Generally, the following categories of people are eligible to apply for a green card. You may not be eligible if your situation isn’t one of these. But check with an immigration attorney to be sure.

  • You have close relatives (immediate family, such as spouse, parents, siblings, or children) who are permanent U.S. residents or citizens.
  • An employer in the U.S. will sponsor you.
  • You have refugee or asylum status or have been the victim of human trafficking, abuse, or other crimes.
  • You are a special immigrant (someone who worked for the U.S. government or military).
  • You have lived in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 1972.

What Is an Inadmissibility Ruling?

An inadmissibility ruling means that someone’s green card application has been denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and they are not allowed to live and work in the U.S. permanently. There are several reasons someone’s application may be deemed inadmissible by the USCIS. Here is a list of examples, including which ones may be waived.


Applicants with transmissible diseases, physical or mental disorders linked to harmful behaviors, drug addiction, or lack of required vaccinations will likely be rejected. The applicant can apply for a waiver by undergoing an immigration medical exam (except for drug addiction, for which there is no waiver).

This is not a complete medical screening but one to detect diseases specified in U.S. immigration law, including syphilis, tuberculosis, and leprosy.

Criminal History

Someone convicted of or admits to having committed criminal acts will be rejected. These include:

  • Drug offenses, including trafficking (the selling of drugs to others)
  • Prostitution or human trafficking
  • Money laundering
  • Conviction of two or more crimes
  • Crime involving moral turpitude (such as murder, rape, theft, or arson)

Someone guilty of most of these can still apply for a waiver. However, drug or human traffickers and family members who knowingly benefited from the proceeds of the drugs sales or human trafficking, along with foreign government officials involved in severe violations of religious freedom, cannot apply for waivers.


People who have been involved with groups or organizations that represent a risk to the U.S. will be denied admissibility, and there is no opportunity for a waiver. The only exception in this group is if someone was a member of the Communist Party or another totalitarian party.

Public Charge

Someone who is considered likely to become reliant on the U.S. government for living expenses. That’s why green card applicants need to demonstrate that they have adequate financial resources or a well-paying job lined up to be ruled admissible.

Unlawful Entry or Other Immigration Violations

People who enter the U.S. illegally or violate various immigration requirements can be deemed inadmissible. Some situations can be reversed with a waiver, but making false citizenship claims, abusing student visas, or not showing up for removal proceedings in court are not among them.

Improper or Lack of Required Immigration Documents

Someone who enters the U.S. without proper documentation or with invalid or fraudulent documentation has likely forfeited the option to apply for a waiver.

Previously Deported Foreign Nationals

If someone was previously deported from the U.S., they’re not eligible for a waiver.


This is an enormous category representing everything from former U.S. citizens who gave up their U.S. citizenship for tax purposes, practicing polygamists, people who voted illegally or fraudulently, and parents who kidnapped their children and took them out of the country, among many others. It’s also possible that the USCIS made errors with your application and wrongfully denied it.

Because there are so many miscellaneous reasons a green card application may be ruled inadmissible, having a legal expert review your case is highly recommended.

What is the Process to Appeal an Inadmissibility Ruling for a Green Card Application?

Once you’ve received notification from the USCIS that your green card application has been denied, the first step should be hiring an experienced immigration attorney. They’ll help you determine if you’re eligible for an appeal, and if so, they can guide you through the process. There is paperwork that must be filled out correctly and specific time frames to be followed.

Appeals must be filed within 30 days of receiving the USCIS denial (or if the denial came through the postal service, 33 days). A specific USCIS form must be filled out and filed with an accompanying filing fee of several hundred dollars (payable by personal check, money order, cashier’s check, or credit card). There are different forms for appeal depending on where the person is (inside or outside the U.S.) and the reason they were denied in the first place.

What Should I Do if a Loved One or I Have Had a Green Card Application Ruled Inadmissible?

Call us as soon as possible at 857-347-3701 to request a free immigration and green card case evaluation. Because the laws around green card status are complex and sometimes subject to interpretation by the courts, it’s best not to try to file an appeal on your own. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate immigration attorneys can walk you through the appeals process and give you guidance about what to expect while ensuring you don’t inadvertently make a misstep that could cost you the green card approval.

Toland Law, LLC