Form I-485 US Permanent Residence Application
If you are currently living in the United States and would like to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident, you will first need to know all about Form I-485. This is one of the most important documents when it comes to getting a green card in the US, where careful completion and submission of this document is key to a successful outcome.
What is Form I-485?
Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) is one of the main immigration documents submitted to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when applying for a green card from within the United States. As the description of Form I-485 suggests, this form is for non-US citizens to register permanent residence or to apply to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident from the US.
By filing Form I-485, this essentially means that you may get a green card without having to return to your home country to complete the necessary consular processing from overseas.
When is Form I-485 used?
There are various ways for non-US citizens to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident, although the relevant requirements for adjustment of status may vary, as these are dependent on the immigrant category under which a green card is sought.
However, in all cases, to be eligible to file an adjustment of status application using Form I-485, you must be physically present in the United States. Provided you are physically present in the US, you may apply as a person who directly qualifies for an immigrant category (known as the “principal applicant”) or potentially as a family member of the principal applicant (known as a “derivative applicant”). Still, whether you are applying as a principal or derivative applicant, you must file your own separate Form I-485.
However, the very first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fit within a specific immigrant category. To explore the different ways in which you may qualify for a green card, you can search the “Green Card Eligibility Categories” page on the USCIS website, where this lists all the possible categories that you can apply under. Family and employment-based green cards provide the most popular options, although there are other ways to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States. As such, you are strongly advised to seek expert advice and assistance from a US immigration specialist to identity the best possible route available to you based on your personal circumstances.
How to file Form I-485
Most people who apply for a green card must complete at least the following two forms: an immigrant petition and a green card application. The petition form could include, for example, Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) or Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker). In most cases, someone else will need to file the petition on your behalf, although you may be eligible to file for yourself in certain scenarios, for example, in the case of Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor Alien Entrepreneur).
Additionally, unless your category of green card is eligible for concurrent filing, you will need an approved immigrant petition before filing Form I-485, and may also not file Form I-485 until a visa is immediately available in your green card category, where applicable. For information on how to determine whether and when you will be eligible to adjust status and file Form I-485, refer to the “Visa Availability and Priority Dates” page on the USCIS website, as well as the “Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin” page.
Once you are in a position to file your green card application using Form I-485, this form must be accompanied by a number of documents in support, where you can again view the form instructions on the USCIS website. There is also a useful checklist of required initial evidence for Form I-485 on the website, although this is for informational purposes only. To ensure that your green card application is complete, with the correct documentation in support, you should always seek expert advice from an immigration specialist.
How much does it cost to file Form I-485?
The filing fee for Form I-485 varies, based on your circumstances. However, in most cases, the fee will be a total of $1,225. This total comprises a $1,140 application fee, plus an $85 fee for attending a biometrics services appointment, where required.
In some cases, where you are not required to enrol your biometrics for a green card, there will be no appointment fee. Further, if you are filing Form I-485 based on having been admitted to the US as a refugee, there will be no application or appointment fee.
Where do you file Form I-485?
The address for filing Form I-485 will depend on your eligibility category for a green card. There is a useful page on the USCIS website of direct filing addresses for Form I-485.
If you would like to receive an email or text that USCIS have accepted your Form I-485, you should also complete Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance), and attach it to the first page of your green card application.
Can Form I-130 & I-485 be filed at the same time?
For most green card categories, you must have an approved immigrant petition before filing your Form I-485. However, some categories will allow you to file Form I-485 at the same time that your immigrant petition is filed or while that petition is pending. This is referred to as “concurrent filing”, where concurrent filing is always allowed for immediate relatives of United States citizens using Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). An immediate relative can include the spouse, any unmarried children under 21 and the parents of a US citizen, where there are no numeric limitations for these particular categories of applicant.
In other cases, such as employment-based applicants, you must wait for a visa number to be available at the time of filing. It is only at this stage that a petition using Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker,) and the adjustment application can be filed concurrently. In some immigrant categories, even where a visa number is available at the time of filing, you may not be permitted to file concurrently, where you must first have an approved petition before being allowed to file Form I-485 for your adjustment of status.
To be treated as concurrently filed, the immigrant visa petition (in this case Form I-130) and the adjustment of status application (Form I-485) must be filed at the same time and mailed together with all the required fees and supporting documentation to the same filing location. However, these forms will also be considered concurrently filed if Form I-485 is filed after Form I-130, but while the immigrant visa petition still remains pending.
When adjudicating concurrent filings, USCIS will determine the eligibility for the immigrant visa petition first, although the adjustment application will usually be considered at the same time when it comes to the immediate relatives of US citizens. For other green card categories, if a visa number remains available for your category and your Form I-485 is approvable, USCIS will usually consider the adjustment application at the same time.
What happens after filing Form I-485?
After filing Form I-485, USCIS will mail you a notice with the date, time and location for a biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC) using Form I-797C. Your Form I-797C notice will provide instructions on what you must bring along to your ASC appointment, including your appointment notice and a valid photo ID.
At your ASC appointment, you will be asked to sign an acknowledgment certifying that you reviewed all the information in Form I-485 and that this was complete, true and correct at the time of filing. If you do not sign the acknowledgment, your Form I-485 may be denied. Equally, you must provide your biometric information, where requested by USCIS, as this will be used to verify your identity, as well as to conduct required background and security checks. This will include a scan of your fingerprints and a digitised photo of your face.
USCIS may also deny your Form I-485 if you miss your ASC appointment without properly notifying USCIS and requesting that your appointment be rescheduled. If you need to reschedule your ASC appointment, you must make the request through your USCIS online account or call the USCIS Contact Center. Your rescheduling request must also be made before the date and time of your original appointment, and establish a good reason for rescheduling. If you fail to request to reschedule before your existing appointment, or if you fail to establish good cause, USCIS may consider your application abandoned.
In addition to attending a biometrics appointment, you may be asked to attend an interview as part of your green card application. If USCIS schedule an interview, you will be required to attend at a USCIS office to answer various questions about your Form I‑485 under oath or affirmation. Again, USCIS will send you a notice with the date, time and location of your interview. When attending an interview, where applicable, you must bring originals of all supporting documents submitted with Form I-485. You may also need to attend with your US sponsor, for example, if a family member filed your immigrant petition.
What happens after Form I-485 has been approved?
Once USCIS makes a decision on your application, they will send you a written notice. If your application for a green card is approved, you will generally receive an approval notice first and your permanent resident card, also known as your green card, shortly after.
If USCIS deny your application, the decision notice will tell you the reason(s) for this and whether you may appeal the decision. Generally, you cannot appeal a decision to deny an adjustment of status application. Still, even if you cannot appeal, you may be able to file a motion to reopen or reconsider your application using Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion). More information on appeals and motions can be found on USCIS website, although you are strongly advised to seek immediate specialist help in these circumstances.
How long does it take to get a green card after Form I-485 approval?
The total process to obtain a green card can take as much as a year, in some cases, far longer. However, there are several ways in which you can help to prevent any unnecessary delays in the adjudication of your Form I-485 by USCIS, including:
- filing all required initial evidence and documentation in support at the same time as filing Form I-485, where this may minimise the likelihood of you receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE) to provide additional information and/or documentation. Importantly, if you do not respond to an RFE within the prescribed time, USCIS may deny Form I-485.
- submitting your Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, at the same time as filing your Form I-485. Importantly, if you are required to submit Form I-693, USCIS cannot approve your Form I-485 without this. It is also worth noting that USCIS generally considers a completed Form I-693 to remain valid for a period of 2 years after the date the civil surgeon has signed it.
- ensure that you use the current edition for Form I-485 (edition date 02/21/23). USCIC will still accept the 12/23/22 edition, but it is better to be up-to-date. You can find the form edition date on the bottom of each page, where dates are listed in a mm/dd/yy format. If you complete and print Form I-485 to mail it, the edition date and page numbers must all be from the same edition and visible at the bottom of all pages. If any pages are either missing or from a different form edition, USCIS may reject your form.
- ensure that your Form I-485, together with any supporting documentation, is mailed to the correct address, otherwise risk this resulting in processing delays. USCIS will also reject any green card application that is not accompanied by the correct filing fee.
Form I-485 FAQs
What does the I-485 do?
Form I-485 is the form to make an application to register permanent residence or to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident from inside the United States, although an applicant must usually have an approved immigrant petition first.
What is the difference between I-485 and green card?
Form I-485 is a form used to apply for lawful permanent residence from in the US, where approval of Form I-485 and getting a green card are essentially one in the same.
What does I-485 approval mean?
Form I-485 approval essentially means that your green card application has been approved and that you have been granted lawful permanent residence status. This means that you can live and work in the US on a permanent basis.
How long does it take to get I-485 green card?
It can often take several months, if not much longer, before an immigrant petition and an application for an I-485 green card will be approved. Both must be approved for lawful permanent residence status to be granted.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.