Understanding the Form I-485 instructions is crucial if you plan to adjust your immigrant status to the United States. Learn more here.
About Form I 485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
USCIS Form I-485, also known as Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is a required form for some immigrants who wish to live and work legally in the United States.
If you are already living in the United States and have an approved immigrant petition, you may be able to use this form to adjust your current immigration status to permanent resident or green card holder.
If you do not have an approved immigrant petition, you may also be able to use this form depending on the eligibility requirements for your green card category.
Completing and submitting the form may seem like a Herculean task for most applicants. This is because any errors, mistakes or fraud could result in the denial of your visa or green card application.
How to Comply With the I-485 Instructions
Because it is essential to strictly follow the filing instructions, many applicants seek the help of experts who understand the adjustment of status application procedure.
In many cases, applicants consult with attorneys experienced in citizenship and immigration services. This is because such an expert understands the immigration laws and procedures regarding adjustment of status in the US.
A U.S. immigration attorney can help you:
- Prepare the application
- submit the application
- representing you during the Green Card interview
There is smart software available online, as well as guides to completing the application process through immigration services (USCIS). Still, the safest bet is to rely on the professional guidance of an attorney who has your best interests in mind.
More Information About the Uscis I 485 Form
Here are some quick facts and explanations of terms used in the I 485 process:
Eligibility- Some federal laws and statutes in the U.S., such as the Immigration and Nationality Act, specify who is eligible to apply for permanent residence by filing Form I-485. To find out if you are qualified to file under Form I-485, consult an experienced immigration attorney for legal advice.
Personal Application : Every applicant seeking to become a permanent resident in the U.S. must file a personal Form I-485. This is the case whether or not you are a principal applicant.
When to file Form I-485: Beneficiaries of immigrant visa applications may apply for adjustment of status or a green card only after USCIS has approved their application and assigned a visa number. However, USCIS may allow certain applicants to file a Form I-485 prior to approval of the immigrant petition. For more information on visa availability and priority date, visit the USCIS online platform or speak to your attorney.
Military Service : Sometimes, male applicants between the ages of 18 and 26 are required by law to register with the Selective Service System. If you are successful in your application, your Social Security Number and other details may be sent to the Selective Service.
Immediate Relatives: unlike other applicants, an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen may apply for Form I-485 while the applicant’s Form I-130 is pending.
Alien Registration Number: Remember to type or print your name and alien registration number, if applicable, at the top of each sheet of your application.
Instructions for Supplement a to Form I-485
Supplement A to Form I-485 was designed for those who are not eligible for adjustment of status under INA Section 245. However, persons in this category may use Supplement A and apply for adjustment of status under INA Section 254(i).
Those applying for a Green Card under this category must also file their Supplement A along with Form I-485. This will make them eligible under the various visa categories. USCIS will consider the Supplement A and Form I-485 to determine if they qualify under Section 245(i).
The following individuals may be qualified to file Supplement A.
- Applicants who are the principal beneficiaries of immigrant petitions or applications for permanent labor certification, properly filed on or before January 14, 1998.
- Principal beneficiaries of immigrant petitions or applications for permanent labor certification were properly filed on or after January 15, 1998, but on or before April 30, 2001, and were physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000.
- Those who were the derivative beneficiaries of immigrant petitions or applications for permanent labor certification properly filed on or before January 14, 1998, which were approvable at the time of filing.
- Those who were the derivative beneficiaries of immigrant petitions or applications for permanent labor certification duly filed on or after January 15, 1998, but on or before April 30, 2001, which were approvable when filed and physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000. , 2000.
Applicants who are currently spouses or unmarried children under age 21 eligible to accompany or join a primary or derivative beneficiary described in the above cases.
Form I-485 Instructions (Step-By-Step)
Completing Form I 485 can be overwhelming. Common mistakes green card applicants make in the process include leaving a few spaces blank or entering incorrect information. These mistakes can work against the applicant.
The USCIS Form I-485 is divided into several parts. Below is a step-by-step look at Form I 485 to help you understand how to complete this important form.
Part 1-Information About Yourself
This part of the form requires you to provide the following personal information:
- your name
- date of birth
- country of birth
- country of citizenship
- place of last arrival in the U.S.
- recent immigration history
You must know and write the point of your last arrival to the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security assigns a Form I-94 to:
- All aliens admitted to the US.
- Those who want to adjust their immigration status while in the U.S.
- Those who wish to extend their stay
Each Form I-94 contains an 11-digit Arrival-Departure Number that can be evaluated on your website. You must provide your authorized expiration date of stay or the exact date your status will expire. However, do not look at your visa to find that date because it is almost always different. You can find out your status expiration date on your Form I-94, issued by Customs and Border Protection. In some cases, those who have exceeded their exact Expiration Date of Authorized Stay may apply to adjust their status and renew their visa.
You must be sure to use your legal name as it appears in your international passport. If your legal name has changed from that shown in your passport, you must provide evidence of the change.
For students and exchange program visitors, you must use the name of your exchange program on file. Otherwise, you must provide evidence of why this should be changed.
You must provide a mailing address to receive mail from USCIS. A vulnerable or special immigrant applicant may use a proxy mailing address to receive mail.
Part 2-Application Type or Filing Category
In this section, you are expected to indicate which immigrant category you are applying for: to become a lawful permanent resident or to adjust status?
Please note that there are two main types of applicants:
- the principal applicant
- the derivative applicant
Principal applicants apply on their own, while derivative applicants apply through a principal applicant.
A Green Card applicant who wishes to adjust status must select one of eight immigration categories, which include:
- Family-based immigration
- Employment-based immigration
- Special Immigration
- Victim of Human Trafficking or Victim of Crime
- Special Programs Based on Certain Public Laws
- Additional Options, such as Diversity Visa
Part 3-Additional Information About You
This part of the form is where you should indicate whether you have ever applied for permanent resident status or a green card in the U.S. You should indicate whether the application was approved, denied, or withdrawn.
This part will also ask you to provide your employment history, address history, and the places where you have lived in the last five years, both inside and outside the U.S. Your employment history is not a basis for eligibility, but is used for background checks.
Part 4-Information About Your Parents
As a Green Card applicant, you must provide personal information about your parents, including their legal names, place and date of birth, and current residence. The U.S. government uses this information to conduct a background check on applicants.
Part 5-Marital History Information
This section will ask applicants about their marital status. Be prepared to answer questions such as current marital status, place of marriage, and details of a previous marriage or previous marriages, if applicable.
Certain supporting documents must be included with a marriage-based I-485 application, such as proof that the spouse entered the U.S. on a valid immigrant visa and proof that the sponsoring spouse can financially support the spouse filing a green card application.
Remember to attach primary evidence such as your marriage certificate to your application. Failure to attach supporting evidence, such as a marriage certificate, may delay your application.
Part 6-Information About Your Children
In this part, applicants are asked to provide details about their offspring as follows:
- biological children
- legally adopted children
- stepchildren whether living in the U.S., married or unmarried
Part 7-Biographical Information
In the biographical information, immigration applicants are asked about their ethnicity, race, height, weight, eye color, and hair color. Applicants who wish to adjust status are free to select any race with which they most identify, as there is no wrong answer.
Part 8-General Eligibility and Inadmissibility Grounds
In this section, applicants are asked to state whether they are members of certain religious organizations, associations, funds, foundations, parties, clubs or similar groups in the U.S. or elsewhere, including any military service. Applicants should list past and present organizations to which they belong.
This section will also ask applicants if they have ever been denied entry to the U.S. or if they have been involved in criminal acts and violations.
It would be helpful if you would answer all questions honestly and accurately. If you believe that a truthful answer would create a problem on the application or you are unsure of your answer, talk to a U.S. immigration attorney before filing your Form I-485.
Part 9-Accommodations for Persons With Disabilities And/or Impairments
This section requires applicants with a disability to indicate whether they need accommodations. USCIS makes provisions for individuals with disabilities and other forms of impairments to fully participate in the program. Persons with disabilities must be specific in the exact accommodation and public benefits they desire.
Part 10-Applicant’s Declaration, Contact Information, Statement, Certification, and Signature
USCIS wants applicants to indicate whether they prepared the Form I-485 independently or with the assistance of a family member or third party.
Part 11-Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
Those who do not understand English and need an interpreter to complete the form must provide the interpreter’s contact information and certification. The interpreter must also sign the form.
Part 12-Contact Information, Certification and Signature of Person Preparing This Application, if Other Than the Applicant
A third party may prepare USCIS Form I-485 on behalf of an applicant. However, whoever prepares the document for an applicant, whether an ordinary person, attorney-in-fact, or accredited representative, must properly indicate as such. So, if you completed the form yourself, you may indicate that it is not applicable.
Part 13-Signing at the Interview
Applicants should not complete or sign this part until during their interview and in the presence of the USCIS officer.
Do You Need an Attorney to File the I-485?
While the exact rules and procedures may vary depending on your personal circumstances, most applicants file Form I-485 with the assistance of an attorney.
This is because such a professional can help with interpreting decisions or laws affecting immigration requirements, filing forms correctly and according to exact instructions.
In addition, if you hire an attorney to help you correctly understand the legal procedures and documentation, you can be sure that you will avoid costly mistakes and immigration violations.
Can I File 485 by Myself?
Filing Form I 485 on your own means doing it on your own without the help of a professional.
That said, you should know that while a person can apply for permanent residence in certain situations, it is not advisable to file USCIS Form I-485 alone for most applicants.
For example, if someone has immigration violations or a criminal record, obtaining a green card can be extremely difficult. In addition, you should strictly follow the Form I-485 Instructions because the application may be denied if the required initial evidence is not submitted.
Please note that Form I-485 processing times vary depending on the adjustment category. USCIS can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to approve the form. However, if an individual has filed Form I-140 for an employment-based adjustment of status, it must first be approved.
Unless you are familiar with immigration policies and procedures, hiring an experienced immigration attorney is the surest way to increase your chances of success.
Contact an Immigration Law Firm
If you are applying for permanent residency in the U.S., don’t leave it to chance. Contact a citizenship and naturalization attorney today to review your case and get additional information on how to prepare and file your 485 application or further instructions.