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What Is Form I-485?2023-01-17T11:32:15-05:00
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What Is Form I-485?

Form I-485 is officially called “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”. This is the form you will use to apply for a green card if you already live in the United States. This process is called Adjustment of Status. This is because you are changing (or “adjusting”) from your original status, to the status of a permanent resident. Some examples of people who will use Form I-485 to apply for a green card are foreign spouses and immigrant workers.

The purpose of Form I-485 is to collect information about the person applying for a green card. This person is called the “principal applicant”. With this information, the USCIS will decide if the applicant is eligible to receive a green card.

For green cards based on marriage and family relationships, Form I-485 is usually step 2 after filing Form I-130. For spouses of U.S. citizens the I-130 and I-485 can be filed at the same time. This is called “Concurrent Filing”.

According to the instructions for Form I-485, if you submit a document with information in a foreign language, you must also submit an English translation. To guarantee that your I-485 is processed as quickly as possible, it helps to use a certified translator.

You can order a certified translation of these documents from our online store:

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In this guide we answer many questions about Form I-485:

How Long Does Form I-485 Take To Process?

Processing times for Form I-485 are different for each category of green card. The shortest expected processing time is 7 months and the longest is 21.1 months. These times vary, so it is important to check for yourself.

If you are filing as an Alien Worker, Form I-140 has to be approved before you can file Form I-485.

Processing times for Form I-485 depend on many factors. For example, if you are applying for a family-based green card, your relationship with the U.S. citizen or green card holder, will affect how fast your I-485 is processed. Immediate relatives will have their I-485 processed faster than other relatives.

Another factor that will affect how fast your I-485 is processed, is the USCIS field office which is processing your I-485. Some field offices have less applications to process, and will process your form more quickly. USCIS provides an online calculator to estimate how quickly each form is processed at each location. They also give an explanation of how processing times are determined.

Can I Expedite My Form I-485?

Premium processing is not explicitly available for Form I-485. However, you can try to make an expedite request with the USCIS Contact Center. USCIS considers each request on a case by case basis and may need additional documentation to make their decision.

How Much Does Form I-485 Cost?

The total cost for Form I-485 is $1,225.

The cost for Form I-485 is a combination of the form fee, and the biometrics services fee. If you are younger than 13 or are at least 79 years old, you do not need to pay the biometrics services fee. If you are a refugee you do not need to pay these fees.

  • Form Fee – $1,140
  • Biometrics Services Fee – $85

You may qualify to have these fees waived based on your circumstances. USCIS provides specific instructions to apply for fee waivers if you qualify.

Who Should File Form I-485?

Any person filing Form I-485 must be physically present in the United States. USCIS divides the categories of people who are eligible to file I-485 into 7 large groups. These groups are then divided into smaller categories with details and instructions for each. The 7 groups are:

  • Family Based Green Cards
  • Green Cards Through Employment
  • Green Cards For Special Immigrants
  • Green Cards For Refugees or Asylees
  • Green Cards For Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
  • Green Cards For Victims of Abuse
  • Green Cards for Other Categories

People who are seeking a green card based on marriage fall under the category of family based green cards. In this context, the spouse of a U.S. citizen or green card holder can only file Form I-485 if they are physically present in the United States. The principal applicant also must prove they entered the U.S. on a valid visa.

An applicant can only file Form I-485 if a green card is available on the Visa Bulletin.

For spouses, children under 18, and parents of U.S. citizens, visas are always immediately available and unlimited. This means the applicant can file Forms I-130 and I-485 at the same time, which is known as Concurrent Filing.

For family members of green card holders, the applicant may have to wait for a green card to become available on the Visa Bulletin before filing Form I-485.

Who Should Not File Form I-485?

The most important criteria for using Form I-485 is that the applicant must be physically located within the United States. Any applicant not physically present in the United States, cannot file Form I-485.

There are sometimes other eligibility criteria that keep people from adjusting their status, even if they are present in the United States.

You most likely cannot adjust your status using Form I-485 if:

  • You entered the U.S. as a Crewman (someone working on a ship).
  • You entered the U.S. on your way to another country, without a visa (TWOV).
  • You entered the U.S. as an informant of terrorist or criminal activity (S nonimmigrant)
  • You are “deportable” because you have engaged in terrorist activity, or you are associated with a terrorist organization.

There are other reasons why a person might be “inadmissible” to adjust their status using Form I-485. These reasons are determined on a case by case basis. You may be considered inadmissible if you:

  • Have a communicable disease, haven’t received the required vaccines, or have certain mental health disorders.
  • Have been convicted of certain crimes.
  • Are considered to be a threat to national security.
  • Are likely to become a “public charge.” This means, someone who will need to depend on the government for their basic needs.
  • Your labor cannot be “certified”. This means, if you are entering the U.S. to work, your job cannot adversely affect, or take the jobs of U.S. workers.
  • Have tried to enter the U.S. in a fraudulent way.
  • Have violated your visa in the past.
  • Fall under other miscellaneous inadmissibility grounds such as abusing a student visa, voting unlawfully, or entering the U.S. unlawfully.

You may be able to get a waiver for some of the situations named above if you are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or green card holder.

What Documents Do I Need To Provide With My I-485?

There are several different types of documents required along with Form I-485 that the applicant needs to provide. These include but may not be limited to:

  • Two passport style photographs.
  • A copy of the applicant’s government-issued identity document with a photograph.
  • A copy of the beneficiary’s birth certificate.
  • A copy of the applicant’s foreign passport.
  • Proof that the applicant entered the U.S. legally, which is a copy of the applicant’s I-94, as well as the visa they used to enter the U.S.
  • Evidence that the applicant continuously maintained a lawful status in the U.S. since they arrived. This could be forms I-797, I-94, I-20, DS-2019 or a copy of the passport page with admission or parole stamps.
  • Evidence of financial support. This is usually proof that the petitioning family member is willing and able to financially support the applicant. This form is called Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.
  • If the applicant is applying with Form I-140, they must provide confirmation of a job offer or request for job portability.
  • Certified police and court records for any criminal charges, arrests, or convictions the applicant may have.
  • Form I-693, which is a medical report and vaccination record by a USCIS approved doctor.
  • Evidence that the applicant is eligible for adjustment of status in their immigrant category. This could be a copy of forms I-797, I-130, I-360 or I-140.
  • Proof of the applicant’s relationship to the U.S. citizen or green card holder if they are filing with Form I-130. This could include marriage certificates or birth certificates.
  • Marriage termination documents if the applicant was married. This includes divorce certificates, death certificates or annulment papers.

What If I Don’t Have An Important Document?

If you are missing a document that’s listed above, there are still other ways to demonstrate information to USCIS. This is known as secondary evidence.

  • The first thing you must do is submit a statement from the corresponding civil authority verifying that the document is not available.
  • The second thing you should do is submit “secondary evidence”. The purpose of secondary evidence is to prove the information which your missing document would have proved.

An example might be if you are missing a birth certificate, but you were baptized by the Catholic Church. In this case, a record of your baptism made within 2 months of your birth can be secondary evidence. This baptism would need to have the official symbol of the Catholic Church printed on it. It should also include the date and place of your birth, the date of the religious ceremony, and the names of your parents.

If you cannot gather secondary evidence, you can submit two or more affidavits. An affidavit is a written statement confirmed by oath. These written statements must be from people who can personally verify the events and circumstances you claim to be true. For example, a relative like a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even a close family friend who has knowledge of your birth could verify your place and date of birth. This would be helpful if you do not have a birth certificate. You must also explain why primary and secondary evidence are not available.

Should My Documents Be Translated Into English?

Yes, according to USCIS, if you submit a document with information in a foreign language, you must also submit an English translation.

To guarantee that your I-485 is processed as quickly as possible, it helps to use a certified translator. The documents and forms mentioned above may not be a complete list. Forms that commonly need to be translated include:

You can order a certified translation of these documents from our online store:

Order Your Certified Translation

Where Should I File Form I-485?

Form I-485 must be filed by mail. The address you mail your form to, depends on where you live. USCIS provides a detailed list of which address you should use.

What Is The Difference Between Form I-130 and Form I-485?

Form I-485 is filed by any person who is in the U.S. but doesn’t have a green card yet. This person will be trying to adjust their status from the visa they entered the U.S. with, to a lawful permanent resident. The purpose of the Form I-485 is to actually apply for a green card. Form I-485 can be used by immigrant workers, family members, refugees, and others.

Form I-130 is filed by the family member who is already a U.S. citizen or green card holder. This person is called the “petitioner”. The person who hopes to immigrate to the U.S. is called the “beneficiary”. The purpose of Form I-130 is to prove both people’s identity and to prove they are truly related to each other.

Form I-130 and Form I-485 can be used together if a person is trying to get a family green card. For example, if two people are married, the spouse who is a U.S. citizen will file Form I-130 and their foreign spouse will file Form I-485. Both forms need to be filed and in some cases, the two forms can possibly be filed at the same time.

Can I File Form I-485 Online?

Form I-485 must be submitted by mail to the correct filing address and cannot be submitted online. Even if an applicant is filing Form I-130 online, Form I-485 must be filed by mail.

Can I File Form I-485 From Outside of The United States?

The applicant must be physically present in the United States to file Form I-485. If an applicant is outside of the U.S. they may be eligible to apply for a green card through consular processing.

Can I Travel While My I-485 Is Processing?

This situation would only take place if you’ve already filed Form I-485, and need to leave the U.S., and then return. These are the scenarios that allow applicants to travel while Form I-485 is processing.

  • If the applicant needs to leave the United States while their Form I-485 is still being processed, they may be able to file Form I-131. This is officially called the “Application For Travel Document”. The applicant must travel within the time constraints allowed by Form I-131.
  • The applicant is an H, L, V, or K3/K4 nonimmigrant and maintains legal nonimmigrant status, and also returns with a valid H, L, V, or K3/K4 nonimmigrant visa.
  • The applicant is a refugee or an asylee and has a refugee travel document.

If the applicant does not fall within these categories, they usually should not leave the U.S. while Form I-485 is processing. If an applicant leaves the U.S., Form I-485 may be denied.

How Can I Check The Status Of My Form I-485?

An applicant can check the status of Form I-485 online using their Form I-485 receipt number. You can also contact USCIS by phone. This will also require your Form I-485 receipt number. If you believe your form is taking too long to process you can submit a case inquiry online.

What If My I-485 Is Denied?

Your Form I-485 may be denied for some reasons. Some of these reasons might include missing documents, a failure to sign the form, or medical issues. You can file an appeal if Form I-485 is denied. Having a Certified English Translation of any document in a foreign language, will increase the chances of Form I-485 being approved.

You can order a certified translation of all documents from our online store:

Order Your Certified Translation

Can I Work When I File Form I-485?

If you have already filed Form I-485 and want to work before it is approved, you will need an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To get an EAD, you must file Form I-765 which is called the “Application for Employment Authorization”.

Forms I-765 and I-485 can be filed together to speed up the process. This may allow you to receive an EAD and begin working more quickly. You can file form I-765 at any time after you’ve filed I-485.

Form I-765 is usually processed quickly. The average processing time is 7 months but these times can vary.

If your Form I-485 has not yet been approved, and your EAD is 180 days or less from expiring, you should file for a renewal EAD by submitting a new Form I-765. This will give you a new EAD and allow you to continue working.

If your relative or spouse filed Form I-130, and you are waiting for a visa to become available on the Visa Bulletin, you cannot apply for an EAD.

Should Spouses And Fiancés Use Form I-485?

For Spouses of U.S. Citizens:

If you are married to a U.S. citizen and entered the U.S. with a valid visa, you may file Form I-485. If you were engaged to a U.S. citizen and entered the U.S. using a K1 Fiancė Visa, you must be married within 90 days of coming to the U.S. After you are married, you may file Form I-485.

For Spouses of Green Card Holders:

If you are married to a green card holder, and entered the U.S. with a valid visa, you may file Form I-485 when a visa becomes available on the Visa Bulletin.

When Should I File Form I-485?

Spouses, children under 18, and parents of U.S. citizens can file Form I-485 at the same time their family member files Form I-130 This is because visas are always immediately available and unlimited for these family relationships. Filing these forms together is known as Concurrent Filing.

If you are applying for a green card under another category, you may have to wait for a green card to become available on the Visa Bulletin before filing Form I-485.

If I Have a Criminal Record, Can I File Form I-485?

As mentioned above, USCIS requires certified police and court records for any criminal charges, arrests, or convictions the applicant may have. Additionally, USCIS will run a background check, and collect fingerprint records for most applicants. USCIS decides on a case by case if a person’s application is denied or approved. Having a criminal record does not always mean your application will be denied.

What Is Form I-485J?

I-485J is only used by people who are applying for a green card through employment. This form is used in two different situations.

The first situation would be if a long amount of time has passed since Form I-140 was first filed. In this case, I-485J is being used to reconfirm that the job the applicant first applied for, is still suitable.

The second situation would be if the applicant filed I-485, but then found a better employment opportunity. This is called Job Portability. In this case, the new employer and the applicant have to submit new information using I-485J so the applicant can have a different job.

What Is The Difference Between Form I-485 and Consular Processing?

To file form I-485, the applicant must be physically present in the United States. This is known as Adjustment of Status.

Consular Processing is the process an applicant must use if they are applying for a green card from another country.

Where Can I Get a Certified Translation?

To increase the chances that your I-485 will be approved, it helps to use a certified translator. Any document submitted in a foreign language, must be submitted with a Certified English Translation.

Forms that commonly need to be translated include:

You can order a certified translation of these documents from our online store:

Order Your Certified Translation

It is always important to do your own research. Check the USCIS website and the National Visa Center website to see if you are eligible to file a green card application. U.S. Language Services LLC is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. As a result, it is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you need assistance submitting your paperwork, please seek out the advice of a lawyer.

U.S. Language Services LLC is not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or any other agency of the United States government.

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