Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Family-Based) for the United States

1. What is Form I-485 and when should I use it for family-based green card applications?

Form I-485, also known as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is used to apply for a green card (permanent residence) in the United States. When it comes to family-based green card applications, Form I-485 is typically used by individuals who are eligible for adjustment of status based on a qualifying family relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. This form is usually submitted along with supporting documentation to USCIS to seek lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. through a family-based immigration petition.

1. Form I-485 should be used when you are in the United States and are eligible to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident based on a qualifying family relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

2. What are the general eligibility requirements for filing Form I-485 based on family sponsorship?

1. The general eligibility requirements for filing Form I-485 based on family sponsorship include having an approved immigrant petition filed on your behalf by a qualifying relative (such as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member), being physically present in the United States at the time of filing, having continuously maintained lawful status in the U.S., and not violating any immigration laws.
2. In addition, you must be admissible to the United States, meaning you do not have any disqualifying criminal convictions, immigration violations, or other issues that would render you inadmissible.
3. It is also important to ensure that you meet any specific requirements outlined in the particular immigrant visa category under which you are applying for adjustment of status based on family sponsorship. Providing accurate and thorough documentation to support your application is crucial to demonstrating eligibility for lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

3. How do I determine which family-based category I fall under for Form I-485 filing?

To determine which family-based category you fall under for Form I-485 filing, you should consider your relationship to the relative who is sponsoring your application. The family-based categories for Form I-485 include:

1. Immediate Relatives: This category includes spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old of U.S. citizens, and parents of adult U.S. citizens.

2. Family Preference Categories: These categories include unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years old of U.S. citizens, spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents, married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and siblings of adult U.S. citizens.

3. When determining which category you fall under, you need to check the relationship criteria and the priority date based on the visa bulletin to know your place in the family-sponsored immigration queue. It is essential to accurately identify your category to ensure that your Form I-485 application is filed correctly and processed efficiently. Consulting with an immigration attorney or using the USCIS website to gather information on family-based immigration categories can help you determine the appropriate category for your situation.

4. What documents do I need to submit along with Form I-485 for a family-based green card application?

When applying for a family-based green card through Form I-485, it is crucial to submit the necessary supporting documents to establish your eligibility for permanent residence. The following are some of the key documents you will typically need to include along with your Form I-485:

1. Identity and Civil Documents: This includes a copy of your birth certificate, passport, national identity card, and any other government-issued identification documents.

2. Marriage Certificate or Divorce Decree: If you are applying as a spouse, you will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. If you were previously married, you will also need to submit a copy of the divorce decree.

3. Proof of Relationship: You must provide evidence of your relationship with the sponsoring family member, such as family photos, joint bank account statements, or affidavits from family members or friends.

4. Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record: You will need to undergo a medical examination by a designated civil surgeon and submit Form I-693 to demonstrate that you are admissible to the United States.

5. Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): If you are being sponsored by a family member, they will need to submit Form I-864 to demonstrate that they can financially support you and that you will not become a public charge.

6. Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Application (Form I-765): If you wish to work in the U.S. while your green card application is pending, you can submit Form I-765 along with your Form I-485.

7. Advance Parole Application (Form I-131): If you need to travel outside the U.S. while your green card application is pending, you can submit Form I-131 to request advance parole.

These are some of the key documents you will likely need to submit along with your Form I-485 for a family-based green card application. It is essential to review the specific requirements of your case and consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that you have all the necessary documents in order.

5. Can I file Form I-485 concurrently with Form I-130 for family sponsorship?

Yes, you can file Form I-485 concurrently with Form I-130 for family sponsorship. This process is known as filing an “adjustment of status” application. By submitting both forms together, you are indicating your intent to become a permanent resident of the United States based on your qualifying family relationship. It is important to ensure that all required documentation is included, such as proof of the family relationship, supporting financial documents, medical examination reports, and any other supporting evidence as outlined in the form instructions. Filing concurrently can streamline the process and potentially lead to a quicker approval, as both forms are processed together by USCIS. However, it is advisable to carefully review the latest USCIS guidelines and requirements before submitting your application to ensure a smooth and successful process.

6. What is the filing fee for Form I-485 for family-based green card applications?

As of the latest fee revision in October 2020, the filing fee for Form I-485 for family-based green card applications is $1,130. This fee includes the application for adjustment of status and the biometric services fee. However, applicants under 14 years of age and those 79 years or older are not required to pay the biometric services fee, but they still have to pay the $1,130 application fee unless they qualify for a fee waiver. Additionally, there may be other fees associated with the submission of Form I-485 depending on the specific circumstances of the applicant, so it is important to check the official USCIS website for the most up-to-date information on fees related to Form I-485.

7. How long does it typically take to process a Form I-485 for family-based green card applications?

The processing time for Form I-485 applications for family-based green card applications can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the USCIS field office handling the case, the volume of applications being processed, and any potential requests for additional documentation or information. In general, the current processing times for Form I-485 applications can range from 7 months to 3 years. However, these are just rough estimates and processing times can fluctuate. It is advisable to regularly check the USCIS website for updates on processing times for Form I-485 applications to get a better idea of the current timeline.

8. Can I travel outside of the United States while my Form I-485 application is pending?

Yes, you can travel outside of the United States while your Form I-485 application is pending, but it is important to follow certain guidelines to avoid any issues with your application or reentry into the U.S. Here are some important points to consider:

1. Advance Parole: If you plan to travel outside of the U.S. while your Form I-485 is pending, you must first obtain advance parole by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and receiving approval before leaving the country. Advance parole allows you to reenter the U.S. while your green card application is still pending without abandoning your application.

2. Risks of Traveling without Advance Parole: If you leave the U.S. without obtaining advance parole, your Form I-485 application may be considered abandoned, and you may not be allowed to reenter the country. This could lead to serious consequences, including the denial of your green card application.

3. Consult with an Immigration Attorney: It is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney before making any travel plans while your Form I-485 application is pending. An attorney can provide you with guidance on the best course of action based on your individual circumstances and help ensure that your immigration status is not jeopardized by traveling outside of the U.S.

9. Do I need to attend an interview as part of the Form I-485 process for family-based green card applications?

Yes, most applicants for Form I-485 based on a family relationship will be required to attend an interview as part of the application process. The interview is a crucial step in the adjudication of the application and provides the immigration officer the opportunity to verify the information provided in the application, assess the credibility of the applicant, and evaluate the eligibility for adjustment of status. During the interview, the officer may ask questions related to the applicant’s relationship with the petitioner, background, admissibility, and any other relevant factors. It is important for applicants to thoroughly prepare for the interview and bring all necessary documents to support their application. Failure to attend the interview may result in the denial of the application.

10. Can I apply for employment authorization and travel document while my Form I-485 is pending?

Yes, you can apply for employment authorization and a travel document (Advance Parole) while your Form I-485 is pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Here’s what you need to know:

1. Employment Authorization Document (EAD): You can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with your Form I-485 application or at any time while your Form I-485 is pending. Once approved, you will receive an EAD card that allows you to work legally in the United States.

2. Advance Parole: To apply for a travel document (Advance Parole), you must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. This document allows you to travel outside the U.S. and return during the pendency of your Form I-485 application without abandoning your adjustment of status application.

It’s important to note that traveling outside the U.S. without Advance Parole while your Form I-485 is pending can result in the abandonment of your application. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions and timelines provided by USCIS when applying for employment authorization and a travel document while your Form I-485 is pending.

11. What happens if my Form I-485 is denied for a family-based green card application?

If your Form I-485 for a family-based green card application is denied, there are several possible outcomes that could occur:

1. You may receive a detailed explanation for the denial, citing specific reasons based on your individual case. It is important to carefully review this explanation to understand the grounds for the denial.

2. You may have the option to file an appeal or a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision. This process can vary depending on the reasons for the denial and the specific circumstances of your case.

3. If the denial is based on eligibility issues that are not fixable, such as a marriage fraud allegation or criminal history, you may not have any recourse to appeal the decision.

4. If your Form I-485 is denied, you risk losing your status in the United States if your current visa or status is dependent on the pending adjustment application.

5. It is important to consult with an immigration attorney if your Form I-485 is denied to explore your options and determine the best course of action moving forward.

12. Can I appeal a denial of Form I-485 for a family-based green card application?

Yes, if your Form I-485 application for a family-based green card is denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision. Here are some important points to consider if you are thinking about appealing a denial of your Form I-485:

1. Request for Reconsideration: Before proceeding with an appeal, you may want to first consider submitting a request for reconsideration to the USCIS office that issued the denial. This gives them the opportunity to review the decision and any additional evidence or information you provide.

2. Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO): If your request for reconsideration is denied or if you choose to skip this step, you can appeal the denial to the USCIS’s Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). The AAO reviews appeals of USCIS denials and may overturn the decision if it was made in error.

3. File a Motion to Reopen or Motion to Reconsider: Instead of appealing to the AAO, you can also consider filing a Motion to Reopen or a Motion to Reconsider with the USCIS office that issued the denial. These motions allow you to present new evidence or argue that the denial was based on a legal or factual error.

4. Consult an Immigration Attorney: The appeals process can be complex, and having an experienced immigration attorney on your side can greatly help your case. An attorney can review the reasons for the denial, assess the strength of your case, and guide you through the appeals process.

5. Be Mindful of Deadlines: It’s essential to be aware of the deadlines for filing appeals or motions after a denial of your Form I-485. Missing these deadlines could result in the loss of your right to challenge the denial.

Overall, appealing a denial of Form I-485 for a family-based green card application is possible, but it’s crucial to carefully consider your options, gather supporting evidence, and potentially seek legal representation to increase your chances of a successful appeal.

13. How does the adjustment of status interview work for Form I-485 applications based on family sponsorship?

During the adjustment of status interview for Form I-485 applications based on family sponsorship, several key aspects are typically covered to assess the eligibility of the applicant for lawful permanent residency in the United States:

1. Verification of Identity: The applicant’s identity and biographic information will be confirmed through the presentation of identification documents such as a passport, driver’s license, and birth certificate.

2. Criminal Background Check: A background check will be conducted to ensure the applicant does not have any disqualifying criminal convictions or prior immigration violations.

3. Review of Forms and Supporting Documents: The officer will go over the Form I-485 application and any supporting documents submitted to ensure they are complete and accurate.

4. Admissibility Determination: The officer will assess the applicant’s admissibility to the U.S. by reviewing factors such as health, criminal history, security concerns, and previous immigration violations.

5. Relationship Validity: For family-sponsored applications, the officer may inquire about the relationship between the applicant and the petitioner to verify its authenticity.

6. Questions about Intent and Eligibility: The officer may ask questions to determine the applicant’s intentions to reside permanently in the U.S. and eligibility for adjustment of status through family sponsorship.

7. Request for Additional Information: If needed, the officer may request additional evidence or clarification on certain aspects of the application.

Overall, the adjustment of status interview is a crucial step in the process of obtaining a green card through family sponsorship, as it allows the immigration officer to gather the necessary information to make a decision on the applicant’s eligibility for permanent residency. Applicants should be prepared to answer questions truthfully and provide any requested documents to support their case.

14. Can I include my dependents on my Form I-485 application for family-based green card applications?

Yes, you can include your dependents on your Form I-485 application for family-based green card applications. Dependents include your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. When filing Form I-485, you can list your dependents on Part 2 of the form. You will need to provide information about each dependent, including their biographical details, immigration history, and any accompanying documents required for their application. Make sure to also include the required filing fees for each dependent included in your application. By including your dependents on your Form I-485, you are seeking to have your entire family unit obtain permanent residency status in the United States together.

15. Can I apply for a marriage-based green card using Form I-485 even if my spouse is a U.S. citizen or green card holder?

Yes, you can apply for a marriage-based green card using Form I-485 regardless of whether your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to apply for an immediate relative green card. If your spouse is a green card holder, you may be eligible to apply for a family-based preference category green card. Both options involve submitting Form I-485 along with supporting documents to USCIS to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident. It’s important to ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements and follow the correct procedures when applying for a marriage-based green card through Form I-485.

16. What is the difference between consular processing and adjustment of status when applying for a family-based green card?

Consular processing and adjustment of status are two separate processes for obtaining a family-based green card in the United States.

1. Consular processing is typically utilized when the individual is residing outside the United States. In this process, after the I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which coordinates with the U.S. consulate in the applicant’s home country. The applicant attends an immigrant visa interview at the U.S. consulate, and if approved, receives an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.

2. Adjustment of status, on the other hand, is available for individuals who are already present in the United States on a qualifying visa or through another legal means. With this process, the applicant files the Form I-485 with USCIS to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident without leaving the U.S. This process allows the individual to remain in the U.S. throughout the application process.

The key difference between the two processes is the location of the applicant at the time of application. Consular processing involves obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad, while adjustment of status is done within the U.S. Each process has its own requirements, timelines, and potential benefits, so it is crucial to understand which one is appropriate for your situation.

17. Can I apply for a green card through my adult child using Form I-485 for family-based applications?

1. Yes, you can apply for a green card through your adult child using Form I-485 for family-based applications. If your adult child is a U.S. citizen, they can sponsor you for a green card as an immediate relative. If your adult child is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), they can sponsor you under the Family Preference category. In both cases, you would need to meet the eligibility requirements and go through the entire green card application process, including filing Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
2. When applying through your adult child, it’s important to ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and provide all the required documentation to establish the familial relationship and demonstrate eligibility for a green card. The process can be complex, so it’s advisable to seek guidance from an immigration attorney or legal expert specializing in family-based immigration to navigate the process smoothly and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

18. What are some common reasons for Form I-485 denials in family-based green card applications?

There are several common reasons for Form I-485 denials in family-based green card applications. Some of these reasons include:

1. Ineligibility: If the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements for adjustment of status, such as not maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status or having certain criminal convictions, the Form I-485 may be denied.
2. Inaccurate or incomplete documentation: Failure to provide all necessary supporting documents or submitting incomplete or inaccurate information can lead to a denial of the application.
3. Inadmissibility: If the applicant is found inadmissible for reasons such as fraud, misrepresentation, or public charge, the Form I-485 may be denied.
4. Failure to attend biometrics appointment or interview: Missing a scheduled biometrics appointment or interview can also result in the denial of the Form I-485 application.
5. Employment-based issues: If the applicant was sponsored for a green card based on employment and there are issues with the sponsoring employer, such as a withdrawal of the job offer or termination of employment, the Form I-485 may be denied.

It is important to carefully review the eligibility requirements and provide accurate and complete documentation when filing a Form I-485 to avoid these common reasons for denial in family-based green card applications.

19. Can I include a request for a waiver of inadmissibility on Form I-485 for family-based green card applications?

Yes, you can include a request for a waiver of inadmissibility on Form I-485 for family-based green card applications. In certain circumstances where the applicant is deemed inadmissible to the United States, such as due to past immigration violations, criminal convictions, or medical reasons, a waiver may be necessary to overcome these grounds of inadmissibility. When filing Form I-485, you can request a waiver by submitting Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, along with supporting documentation to demonstrate why the waiver should be granted. It’s important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and consult with an immigration attorney if you have any doubts or questions regarding the waiver application process.

20. How can I check the status of my Form I-485 application for family-based green card processing?

To check the status of your Form I-485 application for family-based green card processing, you can utilize the USCIS online case status tool. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Visit the USCIS website and navigate to the “Check My Case Status” page.
2. Enter your unique 13-character receipt number that was provided to you when you submitted your application.
3. Click on the “Check Status” button to view the current status of your application.
4. The online system will provide you with information on the processing stage of your Form I-485 application, any requests for additional evidence, and the expected next steps in the process.

By regularly checking your case status online, you can stay informed about the progress of your family-based green card application and any updates from USCIS.