Getting your green card is no small undertaking, one that could take years. But you’ve got a life and family in the U.S. now, and dealing with overseas consulates and holding in long queues isn’t really an option. An adjustment of status may be the fastest way to go, but recent trends could make it harder to get the answer you’re looking for.

Application denial rates are on the rise, and that includes those seeking to become lawful permanent residents. The eligibility requirements for remaining in the country during the green card process are typically strict to begin with, and the margins are becoming thinner.

Green card gaffes

Knowing what can cause the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny your application is likely the first step to reaching your goal:

  • Expirations: It’s important to get the process underway before your current allowance runs out. If your permission to stay in the U.S. expires before you apply, the USCIS may not even hear your case.
  • Waivers: You may be ineligible to apply for an adjustment if you gained access to the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program. The system is generally set up only for short-term tourism, business or transit and can’t be used as a platform for a green card.
  • Employments: It can be hard to sustain without finding work, but your application may be in jeopardy if you earned a paycheck without permission. You’ll need special authorization to work in the U.S. if it’s not pertinent to your visa, and doing so on your own can have consequences.
  • Departures: Leaving the country during your application could be a quick way to the back of the line. The USCIS may see it as an abandonment of your request and will have it put aside.

Get the result you want by understanding what can trip you up in your application process. There are a lot of ins and outs to the process, so make sure you know exactly where your application falls.