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

1. What is Form I-485 and who should file it?

Form I-485 is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in the United States. This form is used by individuals who are already in the U.S. and wish to apply for lawful permanent resident status, also known as a Green Card. Those who should file Form I-485 include:

1. Immediate family members of U.S. citizens, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 years old.
2. Individuals who are eligible for employment-based immigration and have an approved immigrant petition.
3. Asylees and refugees who are eligible to apply for permanent residence after being granted asylum or refugee status.
4. Diversity visa lottery winners who have been selected for a Green Card.
5. Certain special categories of individuals, such as victims of human trafficking or certain crimes, and certain individuals granted deferred action.

It is important to carefully review the eligibility requirements and instructions for filing Form I-485 to ensure a successful application process.

2. What are the eligibility requirements to file Form I-485?

To file Form I-485, an individual must meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements include:

1. An approved immigrant petition: The applicant must have an approved immigrant petition, such as Form I-130 (Family-Based Petition) or Form I-140 (Employment-Based Petition), filed on their behalf.

2. Visa availability: The applicant must have a visa immediately available to them based on their priority date and preference category as outlined in the Visa Bulletin issued by the Department of State.

3. Inspection and lawful entry: The applicant must have been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States. Individuals who entered the U.S. without inspection may not be eligible to file Form I-485.

4. Continuous eligibility: The applicant must continuously maintain lawful immigration status while in the U.S. until the filing of Form I-485.

5. Admissibility: The applicant must be admissible to the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Factors such as criminal history, immigration violations, and health-related grounds could affect admissibility.

6. Physical presence in the U.S.: The applicant must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing Form I-485 unless eligible for an exception, such as under the provisions of Section 245(i).

Meeting these eligibility requirements is crucial for the successful filing of Form I-485 and eventual adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident in the United States.

3. Can I file Form I-485 concurrently with other applications?

Yes, it is possible to file Form I-485 concurrently with other applications under certain circumstances. Here are a few scenarios where concurrent filing may be appropriate:

1. If you are eligible to adjust status based on an approved immigrant petition (such as Form I-130 or Form I-140) and a visa number is immediately available to you, you may be able to file Form I-485 along with the related petition.

2. If you have a pending or concurrently filed Form I-130 petition from a qualifying family member or employer, you may also be able to file Form I-485 along with the petition.

3. In some cases, applicants may also be eligible for concurrent filing of Form I-485 and Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) or Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document).

It is important to carefully review the specific eligibility criteria and filing instructions for each form to ensure that concurrent filing is appropriate in your situation. Consulting with an immigration attorney or accredited representative can help you navigate the process and ensure that all necessary forms and supporting documentation are submitted correctly.

4. How do I check the status of my Form I-485 application?

To check the status of your Form I-485 application, 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 Your Case Status” page.
2. Enter your unique 13-character receipt number that was provided to you when you filed your Form I-485 application.
3. Click on the “Check Status” button to view the current status of your application.
4. The online status tracker will provide you with information on whether your application is pending, approved, or if any additional documentation or action is required.

Additionally, you can also contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 for updates on your application status. Make sure to have your receipt number handy when inquiring about the status of your Form I-485 application.

5. What documents should I submit with my Form I-485 application?

When submitting Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, it is crucial to include all required supporting documents to ensure your application is complete and processed smoothly. The specific documents you need to submit may vary based on your individual circumstances, but common documents typically required include:

1. A copy of the Form I-485 application itself, filled out accurately and signed.
2. Proof of identity, such as a copy of your passport, birth certificate, or valid government-issued identification.
3. Two passport-style photos that meet the USCIS photo requirements.
4. Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, completed by a designated civil surgeon.
5. Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, if required based on your immigrant category.
6. Evidence of your eligibility for adjustment of status, such as an approved immigrant petition (Form I-130, I-140, I-360, etc.).
7. Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or other evidence of your current immigration status.
8. Any additional supporting documents specific to your case, such as marriage certificates, adoption decrees, or court documents related to criminal history if applicable.

It is important to carefully review the USCIS instructions for Form I-485 and gather all the necessary documents to avoid delays or potential issues with your application. If you have any questions about which documents to include, consider consulting with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for guidance tailored to your situation.

6. Can I travel internationally while my Form I-485 is pending?

Yes, you can travel internationally while your Form I-485 is pending, but it is important to be aware of the potential implications and requirements. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Advance Parole: If you are an adjustment of status applicant and you leave the United States without obtaining advance parole before your Form I-485 is approved, you may abandon your application.

2. Obtaining Advance Parole: To travel internationally while your Form I-485 is pending, you should apply for advance parole using Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. This document allows you to re-enter the United States after temporary travel abroad.

3. Risk of Denial: Keep in mind that traveling without advance parole can lead to potential complications, such as the denial of your adjustment of status application or being deemed to have abandoned your application.

4. Check Processing Times: It is important to check the processing times for Form I-131 and apply for advance parole well in advance of your planned travel dates to ensure that you receive the travel document in time.

5. Consult an Immigration Attorney: If you have any doubts or questions about traveling internationally while your Form I-485 is pending, it is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to understand the risks and requirements involved.

6. Regular Communication: Staying in touch with the USCIS and complying with any requests for additional information or documentation while you are abroad can help ensure that your adjustment of status application continues to be processed smoothly.

7. How long does it take for Form I-485 to be processed?

The processing time for Form I-485 can vary depending on various factors including the USCIS workload, the complexity of the case, the applicant’s immigration status, and the specific USCIS service center handling the application. On average, the processing time for Form I-485 can range from several months to over a year. As of the latest information available, USCIS provides estimated processing times on their website for different forms and locations. Applicants can check the USCIS processing times online to get an idea of how long it might take for their Form I-485 to be processed in their specific case. Additionally, USCIS occasionally updates these processing times to reflect current trends in processing timelines. It is important for applicants to monitor these updates and be prepared for potential delays in the processing of their application.

8. What are the common reasons for Form I-485 denial?

There are several common reasons why a Form I-485 application may be denied by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Some of the most frequent reasons include:

1. Ineligibility: If the applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements for adjustment of status, such as not having a qualifying family relationship, employment offer, or other basis for adjustment.
2. Incomplete Documentation: Failure to submit all required documents or evidence, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or financial documents, can lead to a denial.
3. Inaccurate Information: Providing incorrect or inconsistent information on the application or during the interview process can raise red flags and result in a denial.
4. Failure to Attend Biometrics Appointment: Missing the scheduled biometrics appointment can lead to the denial of the application.
5. Criminal History: Certain criminal convictions or issues related to the applicant’s background may disqualify them from receiving a green card.
6. Public Charge Grounds: If the applicant is deemed likely to become a public charge, meaning they may rely on government assistance for their support, the application may be denied.
7. Immigration Violations: Previous immigration violations or overstaying a visa can also result in a denial of the Form I-485 application.
8. Medical Inadmissibility: If the applicant fails to meet the health requirements or is deemed medically inadmissible, the application may be denied.

It is essential to ensure that all eligibility criteria are met, and all required documentation is submitted accurately and in a timely manner to minimize the risk of a Form I-485 denial.

9. Can I appeal a denial of my Form I-485 application?

Yes, you can appeal a denial of your Form I-485 application. When USCIS denies your Form I-485, they will typically provide the reasons for the denial and instructions on how to appeal. To appeal a denial, you must file Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, within 33 days of receiving the denial decision. You must include the filing fee and any supporting documents that may help your case. Appeals are typically reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). It’s crucial to thoroughly review the denial notice and seek legal counsel to determine the best course of action for your appeal. Appealing a denial can be a complex process, so it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and provide strong evidence to support your case.

10. What is the filing fee for Form I-485?

The filing fee for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, varies depending on the age of the applicant and whether it includes biometric services. As of 2021, the basic filing fee for applicants aged 14-78 is $1,130, while those under 14 years of age are required to pay $750. Biometric services, including fingerprinting, are an additional $85. There are certain categories of individuals who may be eligible for fee waivers or exemptions, such as applicants for refugee status, those who are victims of domestic violence, and certain military members. It’s important to check the most up-to-date information on USCIS’s official website or directly on the Form I-485 instructions to ensure accurate filing fee amounts.

11. Do I need a medical exam for Form I-485?

Yes, applicants for Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status are generally required to undergo a medical examination conducted by a USCIS-approved civil surgeon. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that the applicant does not have any communicable diseases that would render them inadmissible under U.S. immigration law. The results of the medical examination are recorded on Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, which must be submitted along with the Form I-485 application. It is important to note that the medical examination must be done by a designated civil surgeon approved by USCIS, and the results must be current at the time of filing the Form I-485 application. Failure to include the required medical examination report can result in delays or denial of the application.

12. Can I work in the U.S. while my Form I-485 is pending?

1. Generally, applicants who have a pending Form I-485 application, which is the application to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident in the United States, may be eligible to apply for employment authorization while their I-485 is pending. This is done by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with the required supporting documents and filing fee.

2. Upon approval of Form I-765, the applicant would be granted an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which allows them to legally work in the U.S. while their Form I-485 is pending. It is important to note that the ability to work in the U.S. while the I-485 is pending is subject to certain eligibility criteria and restrictions.

3. It is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative to determine your eligibility for employment authorization while the Form I-485 is pending and to ensure that the process is completed correctly and timely. The attorney can also provide guidance on any restrictions or implications of working in the U.S. while the Form I-485 is pending.

13. Can I apply for a work permit and travel document with Form I-485?

Yes, you can apply for a work permit (Employment Authorization Document or EAD) and a travel document (Advance Parole) concurrently with your Form I-485 application. This is commonly known as filing for a “combo card.
1. The EAD allows you to legally work in the U.S. while your green card application is pending.
2. The Advance Parole document allows you to travel internationally and return to the U.S. while your green card application is in process.
3. It is recommended to file these applications together with the Form I-485 to avoid any potential gaps in employment authorization or international travel restrictions.

14. What is the difference between adjustment of status and consular processing?

1. Adjustment of status and consular processing are two different processes that individuals use to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

2. Adjustment of status is a process that allows eligible individuals who are already in the United States to apply for permanent resident status without having to leave the country. This process is typically available to individuals who are currently present in the U.S. on a valid visa or under a visa waiver program and meet certain eligibility requirements.

3. On the other hand, consular processing is a process that individuals go through at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to obtain an immigrant visa before entering the United States as a lawful permanent resident. This process is commonly used by individuals who are living outside the U.S. or are ineligible to adjust status within the country.

4. One of the key differences between the two processes is the location where the final steps are completed – adjustment of status is completed within the U.S., whereas consular processing is completed at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

5. Additionally, the processing times and requirements for adjustment of status and consular processing can vary. Adjustment of status may be a quicker process for some individuals, while consular processing may require interviews and additional documentation.

6. It is important for individuals to understand the differences between adjustment of status and consular processing and determine which option is best suited to their specific circumstances in order to successfully obtain permanent resident status in the United States.

15. Can I file Form I-485 based on marriage to a U.S. citizen?

Yes, you can file Form I-485 based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen if you are currently in the United States and are eligible for adjustment of status. In order to qualify for this adjustment of status based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, you must meet certain requirements including having entered the marriage in good faith, the marriage being legally valid, and your spouse being a U.S. citizen. It is important to ensure that you provide all necessary supporting documentation, such as proof of marriage, government-issued identification, and any required additional forms or evidence to support your application. Additionally, you may also be required to attend an interview as part of the process. It is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative to assist you with the preparation and submission of your Form I-485 application based on marriage to a U.S. citizen to ensure that all requirements are met and the process is handled correctly.

16. Can children file Form I-485 separately from their parents?

Children may file Form I-485 separately from their parents under certain circumstances:

1. Children who have reached the age of 21 before their parents have completed the immigration process may need to file their own Form I-485 as they are considered separate applicants at that point.

2. If a child is seeking to adjust status based on their own eligibility for permanent residence separate from their parents, they would file Form I-485 individually.

3. Additionally, children who are derivative beneficiaries under their parents’ application for adjustment of status may file Form I-485 concurrently with their parents, but this does not necessarily mean they are filing separately.

In most cases, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for guidance on the best course of action for a child seeking to file Form I-485 separate from their parents.

17. What are the consequences of filing a fraudulent Form I-485 application?

Filing a fraudulent Form I-485 application can have severe consequences, as it is considered a serious violation of immigration law. Some of the potential repercussions include:

1. Denial of the application: If USCIS determines that the application is fraudulent, it will likely be denied, leading to the applicant being ineligible for adjustment of status.

2. Inadmissibility: Submitting false information on Form I-485 can render the applicant inadmissible to the United States, making it difficult to obtain any future immigration benefits.

3. Legal consequences: Filing a fraudulent application is a violation of federal law and can result in criminal charges, fines, and even imprisonment.

4. Bar from future immigration benefits: Those found to have committed fraud on their Form I-485 may be barred from obtaining any future immigration benefits in the U.S.

5. Deportation: In serious cases of fraud, individuals may be placed in removal proceedings and ultimately deported from the United States.

In conclusion, filing a fraudulent Form I-485 application can have serious and long-lasting consequences, including denial of the application, inadmissibility, legal penalties, bars from future immigration benefits, and even deportation. It is crucial to always provide truthful and accurate information when submitting any immigration forms to avoid these severe outcomes.

18. Can I apply for a fee waiver for Form I-485?

Yes, you may be eligible to apply for a fee waiver for Form I-485 in certain circumstances. To determine if you qualify for a fee waiver, you must meet specific criteria set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These criteria typically include demonstrating that you are unable to pay the filing fee due to financial hardship. The USCIS will assess your request for a fee waiver based on your individual circumstances, including your income, expenses, assets, and any other relevant factors. If you believe you meet the requirements for a fee waiver, you can submit Form I-912 along with your Form I-485 application to request the fee waiver. It’s essential to accurately complete all required forms and provide supporting documentation to support your request for a fee waiver.

19. How does conditional permanent residence work for Form I-485 applicants?

Conditional permanent residence is typically granted to certain individuals who are applying for permanent residency through Form I-485 based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This status is conditional because the marriage is less than two years old at the time the individual obtains permanent residence. Conditional permanent residence is valid for a period of two years, during which the individual must jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, with their spouse to remove the conditions and obtain permanent residency without conditions. Failure to timely file Form I-751 may result in loss of conditional permanent residence status, which could lead to removal proceedings. It is important for individuals with conditional permanent residence to understand and comply with the requirements to ensure the successful removal of conditions and the continuation of their permanent residency status.

20. Are there any special considerations for refugees and asylees filing Form I-485?

Yes, there are special considerations for refugees and asylees filing Form I-485. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Timing: Refugees can apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident one year after being admitted to the United States as a refugee. Asylees can apply one year after being granted asylum.

2. Documentation: Refugees and asylees need to provide evidence of their refugee or asylee status, such as Form I-94 or approval notices from the asylum office or immigration court.

3. Employment Authorization: Refugees and asylees may apply for employment authorization while their Form I-485 is pending.

4. Travel: Refugees and asylees can travel outside the United States with advance parole, but they should consult with an immigration attorney before doing so.

5. Waiver of Fees: Refugees and asylees may be eligible for a fee waiver when filing Form I-485 if they are unable to pay the filing fee.

6. Special Protections: Refugees and asylees should be aware of any special protections or benefits available to them during the adjustment of status process.

It is important for refugees and asylees to carefully follow the instructions for Form I-485 and seek assistance from an immigration attorney to ensure a smooth and successful application process.