What Is Form I-485?
Form I-485, formally known as ‘Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status,’ is a USCIS form used by immigrants who entered the US on a temporary non-immigrant visa and who wish to obtain permanent resident status.
Form I-485, along with other immigration forms like Form I-130- Petition for Alien Relative, kick-starts the process for adjustment of status from non-immigrant to green card holder. There are strict filing instructions and procedures to follow when making this application, and any mistake puts the application at risk of being denied.
Therefore, before you begin your adjustment of status application, it is important to learn how to complete and file form I-485 correctly. This knowledge, along with the help of a competent immigration attorney, could help you avoid errors in your application and significantly increase your chances of becoming a lawful permanent resident.
What Can You Do With Form I-485?
Form I-485 is an integral part of the process of obtaining a green card for immigrants who are already in the United States.
It can help you convert to the status of a Lawful Permanent Resident from;
- Non-immigrant status with a job offer
- Asylee status
- Refugee status
- Immigrant (immediate or preference) relative of a US citizen.
Immigrant women in the US who are victims of abuse by a US citizen parent or spouse can also use Form I-485 in their application for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Eligibility Requirements to File Form I-485
To file Form I-485, you need to meet the following requirements:
- You must have entered the US legally and maintained legal status. This is not necessarily affected by an expired non-immigrant visa. Legal entrance means you were inspected by immigration officials and admitted or paroled into the US.
- When petitioning, you should be physically present in the US.
- There should be an immigrant visa available for you at the time of filing.
- You must be admissible into the United States or entitled to a waiver of inadmissibility.
- You should be eligible for a US immigrant visa.
Filing Instructions for Form I-485
Before you file Form I-485 to adjust your immigration status, you need to first determine your eligibility for a green card. You can find the eligibility categories on the USCIS website.
You would then need to file an immigrant petition depending on your green card category. For instance, if you intend to apply for a family-based green card, your sponsor needs to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. For a work-based green card, your employer needs to file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, on your behalf.
Once the immigration petition is approved, you can proceed to file Form I-485. Although in some instances, you may be allowed to file it at the same time as the immigration petition. An immigration attorney can help you determine if this concession applies to you.
Completing Form I-485: Information You’ll Need
Form I-485 is lengthy and is divided into fourteen parts. For your application to be successful, you’ll need to completely fill out the form by providing the information required in each section. Anything less is an express route to a denial.
To guide you, here’s a list of some of the information you require to complete the form. Do well to have those details handy before you start.
The details you’ll need to fill out include the following:
- Your current legal name (nicknames or pseudonyms are not allowed). If you’ve changed your name at any point, you’ll need to provide details of the previous name as well.
- Your Alien Registration Number
- Your date of birth and mailing address
- Your recent immigration history and details of your travel passport
- A history of everywhere you’ve lived in the last five years with dates, both in and outside the US.
- Your employment history for the last five years, both in and outside the US, with dates
- Information about your parents, including their full legal names, addresses, and date of birth
- Information about your marital history, including prior marriages. Even if you’re separated, you still need to include those details
- Information about each of your children, including their date and country of birth
- Your biographical details, such as information about your ethnicity, race, height, weight, feet size, eye, and hair color
- Information about your filing category and the type of immigration you’re applying for, whether family-based, employment-based, or asylum
- Information about your criminal history and previous immigration violations (if any)
- If you used an interpreter to understand the form’s contents, you’d need to include the interpreter’s contact information.
After completing the form, you’ll need to pay a filing fee of $1,140 and a biometric services fee of $85.
Supporting Documents for I-485 Form
Before you submit your form, remember to attach all the supporting documents required as evidence by the USCIS, including:
- Birth certificate
- Government-issued ID
- Passport photographs
- Proof of your marriage (if the principal applicant is the spouse of a citizen or green card holder)
- Proof and information about your employment (required for employment-based green cards)
- Documents certifying that you entered the United States legally
- Proof that you have maintained a lawful status since you arrived in the US
- Documents showing your relationship with the petitioner if you are a family-based visa applicant.
If you fail to provide the required documents, your application could be delayed as the USCIS may need to request additional information from you and wait for your response before your application can be processed.
What Happens After Filing Form I-485?
You will receive a notification of receipt after the USCIS gets your form. They might request additional evidence or notify you that your form is incomplete if you did not fill it out appropriately. A few weeks later, you will get notice of your biometric appointment at an Application Support Center. You will provide your fingerprint, photograph, and signature, which they will use to run background checks on you. Be sure to go with your valid ID card and notice of appointment.
A few months later, the USCIS may schedule you for an appointment to clarify a few things on your Form I-485. You are expected to attend this appointment with all the original copies of the documents you submitted with the form, even if they are past their expiration date. You may also be requested to come with your petitioning relative, passport, and other travel documents.
Lawful Permanent Residence
A while after the interview, the USCIS will mail a notice of their decision. If your application is successful, your green card will be mailed to you. Otherwise, you will receive a notice explaining why your application was denied and if you can appeal the decision.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Form I-485
Form I-485 is a crucial document, albeit lengthy and complicated to complete. An immigration attorney can complete and file the form on your behalf. When you hire an attorney, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve taken positive steps to avoid any mistakes with your application and an I-485 denial.
So if you need help with your Form I-485, or you have any questions concerning your application to adjust your immigration status, contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law. We are a firm of experienced immigration attorneys, and we are here to help you resolve your immigration issues regardless of your location in the US.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to providing all the legal assistance you might need in your American immigration journey.