Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is the official green card application. A foreign national physically present in the United States must submit Form I-485 to become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder). Filing a green card application can be a very complicated, time-consuming, and lengthy process. Therefore, one must know all the aspects of the process with heart.
Check Your Eligibility First
Determining a green card application eligibility can be tricky since it depends on various factors. However, in general, to be eligible for it, an alien must meet the following criteria:
- Must be physically present in the United States.
- The immigration petition must have been approved or submitted. For example – Special Employment-Based (I-140), Family Based (I-130), etc.
- Petitions are subject to the numerical annual quota for immigrant visas, etc.
- Must enter the country lawfully
- Have to maintain a lawful status throughout the stay in the US.
Additionally, according to USCIS, you cannot submit an I-485 application if you came into the US –
- as a crewman
- while in transit to another country
- as a witness or informant; or
- You are in ‘deportable’ proceedings due to terrorism.
Initially, a visa petition (for example, I-140, I-130, etc.) is required. For most applicants, someone else needs to file the petition on their behalf. However, in some circumstances, one might be able to file on their petition.
As listed on the form I-485, a person can submit an I-485 based on seven major categories: family-based (I-130), employment-based (I-140), special immigrant, asylum or refugee, human trafficking victim or crime victim, special programs, and additional options. You have to fall in any of these categories to apply for an adjustment of status application.
When should I submit?
When someone should file an I-485 application depends on their petition category and visa availability. For a family-based petition, if you have the Form I-130 approval notice and an immigrant visa number is immediately available, you can proceed with your Green Card application. You can also file Form I-130 and I-485 if you are an immediate relative since an immigrant visa number will be immediately available.
Based on the employment immigrant petition, you may submit your application if you have an approved I-140 petition or you are filing the application with Form I-140, and an immigrant visa number will be immediately available to you.
For a fiancé-based petition (Form I-129F), you may file an I-485 application once you come to the US on a K-1 visa and marry the US citizen who sponsored your I-129F petition within 90 days of your entry. If someone entered the United States as a K-2 child, their K-1 parent could also file Form I-485.
If you have refugee or asylum status, you must be physically present in the United States for at least a year following the granting of refugee status and continue to meet refugee and asylee status requirements to file I-485 application.
USCIS filing fees for I-485 vary by age, relationship, and circumstances. However, refugees don’t need to pay any filing fee for Form I-485. These fees can be paid with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. Check the box below –
|If You Are…||Form Fee||Biometric|
|Under 14 and filing with the I-485|
application of at least one parent
|Under 14 and not filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent||$1,140||$0||$1,140|
|Age 79 or older||$1,140||$0||$1,140|
As with almost any USCIS form, you’ll need to submit documents that help support the information you provide in the application. But, the documents are required based on the petition and some other circumstances. But in general, applicants’ need to provide the documents regarding their identification, proof of their lawful stay inside the United States, job related documents (if based on employment based petition), proof of their relationship (for the beneficiaries), valid entry, I-693, etc.
Where should I submit?
Depending on where you live and your adjustment category, you should mail your I-485 application to one of many locations. The many scenarios are listed in a chart on USCIS website in this regard. Please visit here.
Application Processing Timeline
When someone gets a Green Card after filing Form I-485 depends on the basis (e.g., family, employment, etc.) of their application. In addition, which USCIS Service Center they have applied to will also impact the time it takes to process the application. Though the processing time is uncertain, generally, it takes 8-14 months from the time of filing. Let’s see at a glance the different steps of Form I-485 processing with their approximate times.