Form I-485 Explained

Form I-485
Explained

What is Form I-485?

The formal green card application is Form I-485, also known as the "Adjustment of Status Application." Certain immigrants in the United States, including special immigrants such as asylees, can apply for an adjustment of status to alter their immigration status to that of a green card holder.

You must be in the United States and file Form I-485 to change your status. You can file Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time if you are in the United States. This is referred to as "concurrent filing" by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Green card applicants who are not in the United States can use the "consular process" to file Form I-485 from their native country. To apply from outside the US, you'll need to cooperate with your local US embassy or consulate. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintains a global directory of US embassies and consulates.

Who can file Form I-485?

Only certain immigrants are eligible to modify their nonimmigrant status and register for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You must be qualified to apply for a green card. Green card eligibility might be based on family, humanitarian, or employment reasons, according to USCIS.

You must be an immediate relative of an American citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a family-based green card. You must be the spouse, parent, or child of a citizen or green card holder to qualify. You must also be in the United States and have entered the country with a valid nonimmigrant visa. After a year in the United States, refugees and asylees can change their status to a humanitarian green card. Employed foreigners in the United States can apply for an employment-based green card using Form I-485.

Who cannot file Form I-485?

However, not everyone is eligible to file Form I-485. Immigrants who are family members of US citizens who are not already residing in the US are not eligible to complete Form I-485. Furthermore, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that you cannot file an I-485 if you:

You entered the United States as a crew member; you entered the United States while in transit to another nation; you entered the United States as a witness or informant; or you entered the United States as a witness or informant.
Due to terrorism, you are facing deportation.

There are various factors for "inadmissibility" that could preclude you from filing Form I-485. The following are examples of disqualifying categories:

Health-related problems (You have a mental illness or a communicable ailment that disqualifies you). Criminal history (a court convicted you of particular crimes)
Security concerns (you pose a threat to the national security of the United States)
Violations of immigration laws (you have previously broken US immigration rules)
Other reasons (such as entering the United States to practice polygamy, child abduction, and to vote unlawfully)

How much does Form I-485 cost?

You'll need to prepare to file Form I-485 once you've determined that you qualify. The paperwork must be accompanied by supporting documentation, including a government filing fee. The cost of filing Form I-485 with US Citizenship and Immigration Services is $1,225. (USCIS). A biometrics processing fee is included in this figure. Money orders, personal checks, and cashier's checks are all acceptable forms of payment for filing fees. Filing fees vary depending on your age and circumstances. The filing fee for Form I-485 is waived for refugees. Additionally, candidates under the age of 14 who file with at least one parent's I-485 application must pay a lesser filing fee. On the USCIS website, look up the filing fees for your specific category.

What supporting documents do I need to file with Form I-485?

Form I-485 must be accompanied by supporting papers to demonstrate your eligibility for a green card. These should consist of:

  • Proof showing the applicant arrived in the United States with a valid visa. As documentation, a copy of this visa and the I-94 travel record should be attached.

  • Proof of nationality for the applicant (copy of a birth certificate and foreign passport).

  • Proof of the sponsor's financial ability to support the application (copies of the petitioner's most recent federal tax returns and pay stubs provided with an Affidavit of Support).

  • If the candidate for a green card has ever been arrested, proof that there was no conviction is required (certified copy of the court record).

  • Medical examination results for immigrants. Using the find a doctor function, you can locate a USCIS-approved doctor in your neighborhood.

 

Your supporting documents have two objectives. They must first show that the sponsor has a legal permanent resident or citizen status in the United States. They must also show that they have a genuine relationship with the individual who is sponsoring your green card application. You must submit all supporting documents to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in English. USCIS has certain standards for translation. You must obtain a certified English translation of your immigration documents based on this.

What if I don't have the required supporting documents for Form I-485?

If a required supporting document is not accessible, you might submit substitute materials (formally known as "secondary evidence"). Assume you've misplaced your original birth certificate. In that scenario, you must present a document that can be used in place of a birth certificate. Specific secondary evidence is accepted by the US government. Additional information is available on the State Department's website.

You can obtain an official letter from your country saying that the original document required is unavailable. School records or census records with your date of birth, place of birth, and parents' names are examples of such documents.

Assume that none of the alternatives listed above are available. You can submit written comments from at least two people who were alive when you were born if this is the case.

How long does it take for Form I-485 to get approved?

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can take a long time to process your Form I-485 application. Processing periods for Form I-485 vary depending on the adjustment category you fall into. In around six weeks, you should receive receipt notices. A biometrics appointment will be scheduled with USCIS at a local Application Support Center (ASC). You must submit your photo and fingerprints for a security check at this location.

 

With the I-485, you can apply for a travel document or advance parole (Form I-131) as well as an application for job permission (Form I-765). In six to eight months, you should receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Travel Document.

If your priority date becomes current, USCIS should make a decision on your green card application within twelve to eighteen months. If USCIS approves your immigrant petition, you will receive your green card 30 days after receiving notification of approval. When USCIS sends you a green card interview notification, you must go to a local USCIS office for the interview. Your green card application will be decided there by the interviewing officer.

The National Visa Center (NVC) is a division of the US State Department. It keeps track of US immigrant visa petitions that have been granted by the USCIS until a visa number becomes available. Your case will be handled by USCIS, the NVC, or both. Your application's processing time may be affected by the type of application you're submitting and the pandemic.

I-485 Processing Time

Although the stages are pretty uniform, the Form I-485 processing time will vary greatly depending on the application, USCIS caseload, and your ability to correctly complete an accurate adjustment of status application package. For most persons, the basic steps of the I-485 timeline are outlined below.

  1. Receipt of application. Approximately 2 to 3 weeks after filing

  2. Appointment notice for biometrics. Approximately 3 to 5 weeks after filing

  3. Biometrics appointment. Approximately 5 to 8 weeks after filing

  4. Receive your EAD card. Approximately 12 to 16 weeks after filing

  5. Notice of interview. Approximately 4 to 10 months after filing

  6. Adjustment of status interview. Approximately 6 to 12 months after filing

  7. Receive permanent residence. Approximately 8 to 14 months after filing

Form I-485 Checklist

The documentation you must send to USCIS are determined by the immigrant category for which you are filing your I-485.

Some documents, however, are required for all applicants filing Form I-485, including:

  • Two matching color passport-style photos of oneself taken recently

  • A passport, driver's license, or military ID card are examples of government-issued photo identification that can be used to verify your identity.

  • Other records that validate your date and place of birth, such as church, school, or hospital records, or written statements from family, if a birth certificate is not available.

  • Copies of paperwork proving your legal admission to the United States, such as a passport page with stamp or an I-94 arrival-departure record

  • Documents demonstrating your eligibility for the immigrant category in which you are filing your petition, such as your immigrant petition filed concurrently with your Form I-485 or an approval notice for a previously filed petition.

If you're applying under one of the immigration categories, there are some exceptions to these rules.

Specific categories may also necessitate the submission of supplementary papers.

A copy of your marriage certificate is required for some immigrant categories, such as the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

Form I-485 Fees

Form I-485 application fee is $1,140.

If you are between the ages of 14 and 79, you must also pay a $85 biometrics fee.

Total fees: $1225.

There are some exemptions to paying this fee for some categories of immigrants. 

For example, the fee for a child under age 14 to file a Form I-485 with his or her parent’s form is $750 total.

Conclusion

Form I-485 might be confusing, but dealing with an experienced immigration attorney or law firm can help. We may be able to assist you if you cannot afford attorney expenses and do not want to handle your Form I-485 alone. If you qualify, our free web app will guide you through the process and assist you in preparing and submitting your application to the US government. Click "Get Started" to see how we may assist you in realizing your American dream!