Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence: Your Ultimate Guide
As an immigrant, one of your ultimate goals is to obtain a permanent residence status in the United States. This status gives you the right to stay in the country indefinitely, work legally, and enjoy most of the benefits of living in the United States. However, before you can qualify for permanent residency, you must submit an application and go through a comprehensive vetting process. That’s where Form I-485 comes in.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this critical immigration form, from its purpose, eligibility requirements, and the application process to some common FAQs. Read on to learn more!
What is Form I-485?
Form I-485 is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Essentially, this is the application form that non-citizens must complete to adjust their status to permanent resident within the United States. When you submit this form, you’re essentially asking the U.S. government to grant you a permanent residence status based on your qualifications, including your family ties, employment, or humanitarian concerns.
Eligibility for I-485
Before you can submit this application, several eligibility requirements must be met. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to apply for the form. You can only apply for this form if:
1. You are in the United States legally
You must have entered the country legally, either through a nonimmigrant visa or as a refugee. In other words, you must be in lawful immigration status when you submit your I-485 application.
2. You are eligible for an immigrant visa
You must be eligible to receive a visa in one of the following categories:
– Family-based immigrant visas: If your family member is a United States citizen or permanent resident, you could be eligible for an immigrant visa. These visas include immediate relatives as well as extended family members.
– Employment-based immigrant visas: If you have a job offer from a U.S. employer, you could be eligible for an immigrant visa. These visas are based on the qualification of the job offer, and the employer must submit an immigrant petition on your behalf.
– Refugee/asylee status: If you arrive in the United States as a refugee or receive asylum status, you may be eligible to apply for an I-485.
3. You are admissible to the United States
You must pass a background check, undergo a medical exam, and prove that you did not commit any criminal activities before entering the United States. If you have a criminal record, you may be ineligible to adjust your status.
4. You are physically present in the United States.
You must be physically present in the United States when you file your application.
5. You have not violated the terms of your nonimmigrant status
If you violate the terms of your nonimmigrant status, such as overstaying your visa or engaging in unlawful activities, you may be ineligible to apply for the I-485.
How to Apply for I-485
To apply for an I-485, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility
Before submitting your application, you must ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements specified by the USCIS.
Step 2: Obtain and Complete Form I-485
You can download the form I-485 from the USCIS website. Ensure that you fill it in completely and accurately. Pay close attention to all the details provided on the form and ensure that you answer all the questions truthfully.
Step 3: Prepare Supporting Documents
You must provide supporting documents that prove that you are eligible for the I-485. These documents vary depending on your eligibility category but generally include:
– A copy of your birth certificate, passport, and any other identification documents
– A copy of your visa or passport page showing your admission stamps
– A copy of your marriage certificate or divorce certificate (for family-based immigration applicants)
– A copy of your job offer letter or proof of employment (for employment-based immigration applicants)
– A copy of your medical examination report
– Police certificates (if applicable)
– Two passport-style photos of yourself
Ensure that you read the instructions carefully and provide all the necessary supporting documents. You can also include additional documents that support your application, such as letters of recommendation or proof of financial support.
Step 4: Pay the Fees
You must pay the processing fees when submitting your application. As of September 2021, the filing fee for I-485 is $1,225. You can pay by personal check or money order.
Step 5: Submit Your Application
After completing the application and supporting documents, send it to the USCIS. If you’re filing by mail, use a mail service that provides tracking information to confirm delivery. The address to send your application will depend on your eligibility category, so ensure that you check the USCIS website for the applicable address.
Step 6: Attend Your Biometrics Appointment
After submitting your application, you will receive a biometrics appointment notice. This appointment will be scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center, where you will submit fingerprint and signature samples for background checking. Ensure that you attend this appointment.
Step 7: Attend Your Interview (If Required)
If the USCIS requires an interview, you will receive an interview notice. The interview is usually conducted to verify your identity and eligibility for the I-485. You will be asked questions by a USCIS officer, and you must answer truthfully. Ensure that you attend this interview and answer all questions honestly.
Step 8: Wait for Your Decision
After submitting your application, the USCIS will review your application and supporting documents. If they approve your application, you will receive a notice of approval and a permanent residence card, also known as a green card. If your application is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision or submit a new application. Ensure that you read the instructions provided in the notice.
1. Can I continue working in the United States while my I-485 application is pending?
If you filed an I-485 application along with an employment-based immigrant visa petition, you may be eligible for an employment authorization document (EAD) while waiting for your green card. You can use this EAD to work legally in the United States for a limited period.
2. How long does it take to process an I-485 application?
The processing time for an I-485 application varies and depends on several factors such as the case load of the USCIS. As of September 2021, USCIS processing times vary between 8.5 to 32.5 months, depending on the service center handling the application. You can check the current processing times by checking the USCIS website or the USCIS case status online.
3. Can I travel outside the United States while my I-485 application is pending?
Once you file an I-485 application, it is not advisable to travel outside the United States until you receive an advance parole document from USCIS. This document allows you to travel outside of the country without any adverse impact on your pending adjustment of status application.
4. Can I appeal my I-485 application if it’s denied?
If the USCIS denies your I-485 application, you may appeal the decision by filing a Motion to Reopen or Motion to Reconsider. You must submit this motion within 33 days of the decision. If you don’t have any other legal basis for appeal, you may also refile the I-485 application again.
In summary, the I-485 application is your guide to obtaining permanent residency in the United States. It is important to ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements, follow the application process, and submit all necessary supporting documents. If successful, you will receive a green card enabling you to work and stay in the United States indefinitely. Don’t forget to keep updated with the latest changes and notifications provided by the USCIS to ensure the success of your application.
Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is administered to non-citizens/legal residents of the U.S. to allow them to obtain the rights inherent in permanent residency in the country. Permanent residency pertains to privileges beyond those specified in the document’s name; as such, people who receive Form I-485 in the U.S. can accordingly find and legitimately maintain employment in the country, as well as living within it.
Administering authorities and required processes
Form I-485 is provided and administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency placed within the larger administrative framework of the Department of Homeland Security which replaced the formerly empowered, now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 2003. People who have submitted Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, to the USCIS and have the agency approve their request will accordingly be granted the document commonly known as the Green Card, and more officially as Form I-551.
Description of document
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, consists of 6 pages which must be filled out by the applicant, as well as 11 pages’ worth of instructions on how to do this and correctly submit the document.
In order for the USCIS to process and potentially approve a completed copy of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, the document must be submitted along with the base required filing fee of $985, along with a potential additional $85 as a biometric filing fee. In such cases, filing fees for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, must be paid as a lump sum of $1070. A check submitted for this reason must be made out either to the USCIS or to the Department of Homeland Security.
Filing fee exceptions
An applicant who is younger than 14 and files through the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status made out by one or both of his or her parents will have to pay a filing fee of $635. Otherwise, applicants under the age of 14 will have to pay a total $985.
Where to submit Form I-485
The correct filing address for the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is determined in accordance with the eligibility category allowing for the application’s potential success.
Applicants should accordingly seek out the “Direct Filing Address” which will be required for the particular copy of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. A completing listing of direct filing address and the related eligibility categories can be found at the “Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status” page on the USCIS website.
Some of these destinations for completed copies of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status include the USCIS Chicago lockbox, the USCIS Vermont Service Center, the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox, the USCIS Dallas Lockbox, and the USCIS Nebraska Service Center.