Marriage is one of the most popular paths to a green card. Here in the U.S., foreign spouses of both U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may apply for a green card. Approval, however, is not always guaranteed.

U.S. immigration law includes a long list of rules and requirements for obtaining a marriage-based green card. There are many ways this can go wrong. Here are five common reasons a green card petition for a spouse may be denied.

A lack of marriage evidence

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants to make sure a marriage is legitimate and authentic before awarding a beneficiary (the spouse who is not a citizen or permanent resident) a green card. Applicants have to provide marriage records, and may also be asked to show other evidence. That might include family photos, financial papers, wedding evidence or other records. In addition, if either person has previously been married, they must prove that union ended before the current marriage.

Mistakes and missing information

A green card petition requires a lot of paperwork. It is easy to make a small mistake. This could be forgetting to fill out an answer, not providing a translation, failing to meet photo requirements or a missing signature. An error can result in a denial. It’s important to review an application before submission.

In the U.S., but ineligible

Simply entering the U.S. does not make someone automatically eligible for a marriage-based green card. As Boundless explains, some visas do not allow for a direct path to a marriage-based green card. Other problematic situations include someone having entered the U.S. without permission, the petitioner or beneficiary being in the middle of removal proceedings, or the beneficiary having come to the U.S. on a fiancé visa with a previous partner.

Previous immigration violations

If either the petitioner or beneficiary has previous immigration law violations, USCIS is very likely to reject a green card application. Even a minor slip-up, like missing a deadline a few years earlier, could be a problem.

Financial questions

The U.S. government wants to know the couple will be able to support themselves financially. The petitioner has to demonstrate they make enough money to live in the U.S. without either becoming a “public charge.” If there are concerns, a green card might be denied.

The immigration process can be frustrating. If you are stuck at one step and unsure what to do next, consider contacting an immigration attorney about your options. They can help you find the best path forward.