Submitting I-485 Adjustment of Status Application
STEP 1: File The I-485 Application
Foreign nationals applying for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. must file the following forms and supporting documents and mail it to the U.S Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) with the appropriate fee:
Supporting Documents And Forms To Be Submitted Along With The I-485 Application
The Advance Parole application must include:
1. Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The application must be properly signed and filed with the correct fees (the USCIS filing fee + Biometrics fee if the applicant is over 14 years of age)
NOTE: If the application for adjustment of status is for a child under 14 years of age, then child’s parent or guardian may sign the application and the Biometrics fee is waived.
NOTE: Each family member must submit his or her own application, even if the family members are derivative beneficiaries (the spouse or children of the main beneficiary of the immigrant petition).
2. Form I-485 Supplement A, if additional fee requirements apply.
NOTE: Only applies if filing using INA §245(i)
3. Form G-325A, Biographic Data Sheet if the foreign national (i.e. applicant) is between the ages of 14 and 79
4. Form I-693 Medical Examination Sheet. A medical examination is necessary as a part of the application for adjustment of status to determine if a health-related ground for denial of admission exists. The applicant must arrange a medical examination with a doctor or “civil surgeon” designated by USCIS
NOTE: This requirement may not apply if the applicant is applying based on continuous residence since before 1972, or if the applicant has had a medical check based on a fiancée (K-1) visa or nonimmigrant spouse (K-3) visa
NOTE: The completed Form I-693 must be submitted in an envelope sealed by the civil surgeon and cannot be opened by anyone except the examining officer at USCIS.
5. Form I-864, Affidavit of Support (must be completed by the sponsor who filed the immigrant petition for the foreign national)
NOTE: This requirement may not apply if the applicant is adjusting to permanent resident status based on an employment petition.
6. Form I-765, Authorization for Employment, if the applicant wishes to seek employment while the adjustment application is being processed
NOTE: The filing of an adjustment of status application does not, in itself, authorize employment or excuse unauthorized employment, and accordingly the filing of an adjustment of status application will not stop the counting period of unauthorized employment.
NOTE: The I-765 may be filed separately from the I-485 without additional filing fees as they are included in the AOS filing fee.
7. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (Advance Parole), if the applicant wishes to travel outside the U.S. while the adjustment application is being processed
NOTE: If the applicant does not obtain Advance Parole before leaving the United States, the application for adjustment of status may be deemed abandoned and the applicant may not be permitted to return to the U.S. The only exception is for individuals in H or L status.
NOTE: The I-131 may be filed separately from the I-485 without additional filing fees as they are included in the AOS filing fee
NOTE: Individuals who have not maintained lawful status in the U.S. or entered illegally should not travel until receiving the green card regardless of whether or not USCIS actually grants the application for Advance Parole as leaving the country may trigger a three or ten-year ban and make the foreign national ineligible for AOS.
8. Copy of Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Document issued upon admission into the U.S.
9. Copy of applicant’s passport biographic page(s)
10. Proof of eligibility for the immigrant visa category sought:
a. Copy of the Form I-797, Approval Notice, for the I-130 Immigrant Petition, if it has been has been approved
b. Copy of the fiancé(e) petition approval notice and a copy of the marriage certificate, if the applicant was admitted into the U.S. as a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen on a K-1 visa and married that citizen within the required 90 days
c. If the applicant is an asylee, a copy of the USCIS letter granting asylum in the United States that shows the date the applicant was granted asylum
d. If the applicant is a refugee, a copy of Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Document that shows the date the applicant was admitted in refugee status.
e. If the applicant is a Cuban citizen or native, evidence of citizenship or nationality
f. If the applicant has been a continuous resident of the U.S. since before January 1, 1972, then the applicant must submit evidence showing that he or she entered the U.S. prior to January 1, 1972 and that he or she has have lived in the U.S. continuously since the entry
11. Proof of eligibility for derivative status for the visa category sought, if applicable:
a. If applicant’s parent became a lawful permanent resident after he or she was born, then applicant must submit evidence that his or her parent has been or will be granted permanent residence. Applicant must also submit proof of relationship with the parent
b. If applicant’s spouse became a lawful permanent resident after marriage, then applicant must submit evidence that his or her spouse has been granted permanent residence
12. Evidence that the foreign national has maintained lawful status (e.g., approval notices, visas, I-20s/DS-2019s, etc.) or evidence that the foreign national qualifies for INA §245(i) (e.g., proof that an approvable immigrant petition or labor certification was filed on or before January 14, 1998 or proof that an approvable immigrant petition or labor certification was filed on or before April 30, 2001 with proof that the foreign national was physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000).
13. A copy of applicant’s foreign birth certificate, showing full name, place and date of birth, and the names of both parents, or other record of birth that meets the provisions of secondary evidence.
14. Two identical passport style color photographs taken within 30 days of filing the application.
NOTE: Lightly print A# (or name if there is no A#) on the back of each photo, using a pencil.
15. Dispositions of Conviction or other documentation regarding arrests and/or convictions must be submitted if the applicant has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime in the U.S. or abroad.
16. Police clearances: If the applicant is filing for adjustment of status as a member of a special class described in the USCIS Form I-485 Supplement A, then he or she may need to obtain and submit police clearances with their adjustment of status application.
STEP 2: Appear For Biometrics And Fingerprinting
Shortly after submitting the I-485 application package, the applicant will be scheduled for “Biometrics” at an Application Support Center where his or her fingerprints and photos will be taken in order to run the requisite background checks. Once the biometrics have been completed, the applicant will have to wait for the background checks to be completed before they are scheduled for a final adjustment of status interview.
NOTE: All applicants between the ages of 14 and 75 must be fingerprinted.
NOTE: Failure to submit the biometrics fee with the application will delay the process because USCIS will withhold processing of the application, including scheduling for fingerprinting, until the correct fingerprinting fee is received.
STEP 3: Attend Adjustment of Status Interview
Once the fingerprinting is done, and the background checks are completed, the applicant will likely have to appear for a personal interview. The interview will be with a USCIS adjudications officer and will be held at a USCIS field office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence as listed on the I-485. USCIS will send each applicant an appointment notice, usually about 2-4 weeks in advance of the interview. For AOS based on a relative petition, the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who filed the I-130 is also required to attend the interview.
A. Supporting Documents And Forms For Adjustment of Status Interview
Applicant should prepare all of the following documents to take to their adjustment of status interview:
1. Complete photocopy of I-485 adjustment of status application and the underlying green card application (if applicable)
2. Photo identification or passport for beneficiary and family members of beneficiary
3. The original I-94 and any other immigration documents (e.g., the Employment Authorization Document, Advance Parole, approval notices, etc.)
4. Original and photocopy of birth certificates
5. Original and photocopy of marriage certificates or divorce certificates and birth certificates of children, if applicable
6. Petitioner must bring documents to prove his or her U.S. citizenship or Green Card status.
B. Processing Time
The USCIS provides processing times which are updated periodically, however, these processing times are not set in stone and merely provide estimates of how long processing might take for I-485s and other cases. Regardless of the posted processing times, USCIS cannot approve an I-485 unless the background/security checks have been completed and the priority date is current. It can take as little as 4 to 8 months to process AOS applications and sometimes as long as 2 years.
C. Affidavit of Support
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is required for family-based adjustment of status applicants. The I-864 must be accompanied by the most recently filed tax return of the petitioner, if applicable and/or other proof of income, including but not limited to proof of employment or self-employment, pay stubs, Form W-2, etc. The petitioner must prove that he or she meets 125% of the poverty guidelines for all the family members.
D. Vaccination Requirements
The Immigration law requires all applicants applying for adjustment of status be vaccinated for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B, hepatitis B, and any other communicable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP).
I-485 For Dependent Spouse And Unmarried Children
The dependent spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age may qualify for adjustment of status based on the primary beneficiary’s immigrant petition. If they qualify, each individual must submit his or her own application. For example, if a U.S. citizen files an immigrant petition for his or her brother, the brother’s wife and children under 21 can also apply for adjustment of status along with their father (they are not required to have their own immigrant petition as they are eligible “derivative beneficiaries”).
AOS Green Card Possible Problems
A. Unauthorized Employment By Adjustment Applicants
Any unauthorized employment during the pendency of the adjustment of status application may act as a bar to approval of the adjustment of status application. USCIS regulations hold that any unauthorized employment, either before or after the filing of an adjustment application will render an applicant ineligible to adjust his or her status. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, however, are exempt from this rule.
B. Travel Abroad While The AOS Green Card Application Is Pending
Leaving the United States while the adjustment of status application is being processed without first obtaining Advance Parole is considered abandonment of the application unless the applicant is in H or L status. Then he or she may leave the U.S. without obtaining the Advance Parole and may re-enter using the H or L visa.
C. Continuing Validity of The Supporting Documentation
Most applicants have to wait several months to receive a decision on the AOS green card application. A handful of applicants may wait up to 2 years in some jurisdictions. Furthermore, once the AOS has been submitted, it is always possible that the priority date may move back or “retrogress”, which means that USCIS cannot approve the application until the priority date becomes current again. As a result of these delays, issues would arise in regards to certain submitted documents and information in the file, including the medical report and Biometrics. USCIS has moved to correct many of the issues by eliminating the expiration times for the affidavit of support and medical exam.
Generally, biometrics are valid for fifteen months from the time they appear on the USCIS system and must be taken again if processing takes longer. The affidavit of support (Form I-864) is valid indefinitely as long as it is submitted within one year of its signature by the sponsor. The medical form (Form I-693) is also valid indefinitely as long as it is submitted within twelve months of the examination being conducted.
D. Switching To Consular Processing After The AOS Green Card Application Is Filed
If the adjustment applicant decides that he or she would like to process their immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad after the adjustment application is filed (e.g. because of delays), the petitioner must file Form I-824 along with the requisite fee with the USCIS office that approved the initial petition to request that the consulate be notified of the petition approval.
NOTE: The USCIS must process the I-824 before a case can be transferred to a consulate for processing. Because of this it may not be any faster to transfer your case.
NOTE: If an application is being held up for background clearance consular processing will not be any faster, a consular officer, like a USCIS officer, cannot grant the visa until the background checks are complete.
E. Aged-Out Protection For Children
The Child Status Protection Act of 2002 was enacted to address the problem of minor children losing their eligibility for immigration benefits because they had “aged-out”, or turned 21 years old, while waiting for action by USCIS or the Department of State (DOS). The CSPA has benefitted many individuals who turned 21 while theirs or their parent’s petitions were pending due to extended processing delays. “Children” protected by CSPA may be granted permanent residence regardless of their actual age.
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