What is Form I-485?

USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Living apart from your family member must be challenging, so while thinking of bringing them to the United States, you can come across plenty of information. By, far you probably learned everything about the I-130 form and green card process, and what’s more, you indeed have filed the form already.

After you submitted Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), the next step to take in the green card process is to submit Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The purpose of filing form I-485 application is to prove that the foreign spouse or relative is eligible for U.S. permanent residency. Unlike the I-130 form, your spouse or relative has to sign I-485, and in this process, they are called the “applicant.”

It is good to know if you are an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen (such as a spouse of a U.S. citizen who entered the U.S. lawfully) who hasn’t filed your I-130 form yet, and you are present in the United States, you are eligible to apply both forms at the same time (this process is known as “concurrent filing”).

Before reading, note that information provided on this site is not legal advice, and provided instructions may vary from case to case. So, if you think that you will need help from an immigration lawyer who can advise you if you can file Form I-140 and Form I-485 at the same time, you can contact our law firm. At Herman Legal Group law firm, we have an individual approach to our clients, assessing each situation thoroughly to provide the best legal help and answer all your concerns. In addition, we offer a free one-hour skype or zoom strategy session to go over the facts of your case. Contact us through our confidential online form, or call one of our locations to schedule a phone consultation with an immigration attorney who will provide the right answer to your questions.

Who is Eligible to Apply Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status?

The applicant of Form I-485 may be an immediate relative getting their green card (lawful permanent residence LPR). There are seven major categories listed on the form that applicants can file an I-485 based on: family, employment, asylum or refugee, human trafficking victim or crime victim, special programs, and additional options. For more clarity, those categories are further divided into 27 sub-categories for clarity.

If your relative or spouse applies as the person “who directly qualifies for an immigrant category,” he or she is considered the principal applicant, and their family members (of the principal applicant) are considered derivative applicants.

The principal applicant must indicate which category (EB-1 A, B, or C) they seek approval for and must comply with all corresponding requirements. Eligibility requirements vary depending on which immigration category (such as EB-1A, EB-1B, or EB-1C) the applicant is seeking.

Derivative applicants have to apply for an adjustment of status based on the same immigrant category the principal applicant seeks approval for.

When it comes to a green card application for married couples, only if a foreign spouse is physically present in the United States upon entering the United States on a valid visa, he or she can file an I-485 to apply for a green card. Additionally, an immigrant visa must be “immediately available” for the spouse who may happen in two cases: Form I-130 must have already been approved (for the spouses of a green card holder), or the I-130 and the I-485 forms must be concurrently filed (in the case of the spouse of a U.S. citizen).

Form I-485 Step by Step Instructions

If an applicant is legally present in the United States and approved for an adjustment of status, he or she can seek permanent residency status. For this purpose, the applicant will use Form I-485 to file for Adjustment of Status.

Besides, the applicants must be physically present in the US to file Form I-485. Otherwise, if they are outside the U.S, they must apply for a green card through consular processing.

The short overview of the Form I-485

Part 1– provide your Social Security number or USCIS Online Account Number, or enter “N/A” for “not applicable.”, “Date of Last Arrival,” I-94 number, if you have a valid visa or you are out of status if your staying permit has expired, etc.

Part 2– choose the basis of your eligibility for a U.S. green card.

Parts 3 through 7- provide more personal and immigration-related information (about parents, marital history, and children).

Part 8– most provided answers should be “no,” as they reflect grounds of inadmissibility. If you find yourself answering “yes” to some of them, consult an attorney from Herman Legal Group law firm.

As you can see, question 61 is related to the “Public Charge” ground of inadmissibility. If you have received public benefits, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything illegal. Still, you will have to prove that you will not need such help in the future (exemptions are an asylee, refugee, special immigrant juveniles, U visas, and VAWA applicants).

Part 9– if you are disabled, you can ask for accommodations here, such as having a medical caregiver accompany you into the interview.

Part 10– requires your signature (parents can sign on behalf of children and fill in Parts 11 and 12);

Part 13– you shouldn’t fill it out before the interview.

Part 14 – provide you space to enter more information.

When To File Form I-485?

Principal applicants who want to file Form I-140 (for EB-1) approval can file an I-485 adjustment application after getting the approval notice of USCIS. An immigrant visa number is immediately available, or if there was concurrent filing allowed.

Derivative applicants who seek an adjustment of status can get Form I-485 approved only when the principal applicant is granted LPR status.

When it comes to principal applicants’ spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age), they may file Form I-485 if an immigrant visa is immediately available to them and meet all the filing requirements. These applicants can file the I-485 form:

  1. Concurrently with the principal applicant’s application (concurrent filing)
  2. After the principal applicant files a Form I-485 that remains pending
  3. Upon USCIS approval of the principal applicant’s Form I-485 and at the time of the principal applicant’s Form I-485 approval (spouse or child)
  4. Upon the principal applicant obtaining an immigrant visa and entered the United States as an LPR, if the principal applicant is still an LPR and if at the time of his or her entry, you were the principal applicant’s spouse or child.

As it may seem, some parts of the form may be pretty tricky, but don’t worry. Within the immigration services that our law firm provides, we can also help you out with filing form I-485.

Documents to Support Form I-485

The applicant has to file an I-485 application with additional evidence. The aim is to prove that the applicant is eligible for a green card. The evidence the applicant has to submit may vary depending on the category and other factors, as well.

An applicant who prepare this adjustment of the status package will usually include:

  • Form I-485 —to claim immigration status and adjust the status of the permanent resident (green card holder).
  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative — which is only for family-based applications and may be filed concurrently with Form I-485.
  • Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support — if your application is a family-based petition (including K-1 fiancés), or an employment-based petition related to a business that is five percent or more owned by your family; Also, applicants must remove the public charge ground of inadmissibility (asylum and refugee applicants are exempted).
  • Form I-693 — provided by USCIS doctor, this form establishes that the applicant is not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.

There are two optional forms:

  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization — to request employment permission. An adjustment of the status applicant is eligible to request work authorization.
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document — to obtain an advance parole travel document to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad.

The form we listed above is typically used for a family-based adjustment of the status package. Still, your situation may require some other, as well, such as a birth certificate, copy of your passport, passport-style photos, and a Notice of Action. Note that your answers in the application will determine what forms and documents you should submit with Form I-485.

If you seek to adjust status under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you should use Form I-485 Supplement A.

What is Processing Time for I- 485?

The processing time for Form I-485 will vary based on the application, USCIS caseload, and the whether the adjustment of the status application package is filed accurately.

After you adequately filed Form I-485, USCIS will send you an email confirming that your application arrived. This receipt notice, usually coming within two to three weeks, is known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action.

If you don’t file Form I-485 properly, USCIS will reject the application by sending you a Notice of Action or, you can receive a Request for Evidence if USCIS needs additional documents. These are situations that will cause delays.

It is essential to correctly file your application package and submit all required supporting documents. Again, an experienced immigration attorney can help you.

Within two to three weeks after applying, you will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment.

Within five to eight weeks after filing, you will have a short biometrics screening.

Four to eight weeks after applying, you will receive a Form I-797, Notice of Action, to attend an interview to adjust your status as a permanent resident.

The next step is attending an adjustment of the status interview before the U.S. immigration officer, usually six to 12 months after filing I-485. You can get permanent residence right after the interview, or your green card may arrive about eight to 14 months.

In the event of a denial, USCIS will send you a notice explaining the reasons.

So, after having an insight on necessary steps that you will undertake after filing your Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, you can see that I-485 processing time can take anywhere from 8 to 14 months. In addition, you can check your case status with your receipt number.

Where to File I-485

The place where you will file your Form I-485 depends on the eligibility category you belong to. For example, A K-1 fiancé(e) (and K-2 dependents) whose Form I-485 is based on an approved Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), will file their application to USCIS Chicago Lockbox.

What are Filing Fees for the I-485 Form?

Filing fees also vary depending on your category.

You can use a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check to pay the fee. If you use a check to pay the fee, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At a USCIS lockbox facility, there is also the option to pay by credit card. For this purpose, you will have to use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

On the USCIS website, you can find the Fee Calculator that will help you determine the fee that applies to your case.

How long you can stay in the United States depends on the information indicated on your Arrival/Departure Record:

  • Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or
  • Form I-94W, Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record.

If you remain in the United States longer than the date indicated on your I-94, you become unlawfully present, leading to legal consequences. The U.S. Immigration and Enforcement have the authority to remove individuals who overstay.

If, as a nonimmigrant visitor, you remain in the United States after the approval duration of your stay, you will not be able to file for extensions, changes, or adjustments to the status. Moreover, you may be barred from re-entry for 3 to 10 years and eventually get your green card. Still, specific categories of applicants may be exempted.

Those are:

  • the spouse of a U.S. citizen,
  • the U.S. citizen’s children under age 21
  • the U.S. citizen’s parents if the U.S. citizten is 21 or older.

To adjust status after an overstayed visa, you must submit concurrently three applications:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative;
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support; and
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

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Do I Need an Attorney for Filing I-485, Or Can I File It By Myself?

You file the I-485 form by yourself, no matter what grounds you file for, even if it applies to an employment-based green card. Still, as you could see through this article, the form is complex, and some might find it confusing. If not appropriately filed, an applicant can risk rejection or delay. With proper instructions, you can avoid these costly mistakes. The best solution is to find a trustworthy lawyer who will ensure that your application will be approved and help you adjust your status.

We have been providing immigration services helping foreigners to adjust their status or apply for a green card. By contacting us, you will ensure that our immigration attorney will answer individual questions on form I-485 and any other concerns. Some stages of the process can be complex, so having the attorney by your side at any time is an advantage and ensure the process goes smoothly. The attorney can provide you with instructions, help you fill out the application, advise you on supporting documents that you need to enclose, ensure you do not miss any important date, help you get prepared for the interview, and lead you on how to prepare your application package properly. Most importantly, your attorney will be ready to answer any concerns raised at any stage of the process and adjust the strategy if needed.

There are other useful links to articles on our blog where you can learn about the green card process, but keep in mind that information on the site is not legal advice or affiliated with government immigration services.

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