- 1 What Is I-485, and What Are Its Uses?
- 1.1 Why Should I Apply for the I-485 Form?
- 1.2 What Is the I-797 Form?
- 1.3 What Is the Processing Time Required for the I485 Form? What Are the Steps You Need to Take to Completely and Properly Apply for the I485 Form?
- 1.4 Step-by-step Guide on What You Should Do to Apply for the Adjustment of Status (I-485):
- 1.5 What Is the I485 Fee?
- 1.6 Post Filing Steps
- 2 USCIS Decision
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
What Is I-485, and What Are Its Uses?
I-485 is the ‘Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence’ form, that the foreign nationals staying in the United States need to submit to become a lawful permanent resident. It is one of the most important documents that you need to submit while applying for a green card. United States Immigration law allows you to file a petition for “adjustment of status” if you have lawfully entered the country and meet all the requirements to apply for this. Before we learn about the I 485 processing time, let us try and understand why you should apply.
Why Should I Apply for the I-485 Form?
To request for adjusting the status and to complete the process of applying for a green card you can do either of the two things depending on whether you are inside the country or in your home country outside the US:
- You can file I-485 for yourself or your family members/ relatives if you are living in the United States. You can submit the I-485 along with I-130 together. This process is known as concurrent filing by the USCIS. (I-130 or petition for Alien Relative is submitted to prove that you are an eligible relative of someone who is planning to come or stay in the US permanently).
- Those applicants who are not in the United States can apply for a green card through the “Consular Processing” from the country they live in. You need to visit the US Embassy or the Consulate of your home country to understand and go through the process.
In this article, we are going to cover what is the I 485 processing time, I485 fee, I 485 receipt notice, I-485 status, and more. Let’s first begin with who can file for this “Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence”.
What Is the I-797 Form?
People often tend to get confused when they receive I-797 after the I-485 form submission. You should know that I-797 is just a response to the application received by the USCIS and tells you about the I-485 status. They send this form to the applicants to give them an update about their visa application status and if you need to submit any additional supporting documents.
It is only a communication letter or a notice and is not any kind of approval or hold any other benefit except for the vital information about your case that you should know and act accordingly. There are seven different types of I-797 notice of action forms and depending on the status of your case you will be sent the form.
Now that you know what I-485 is and what its importance is, let’s move on to know about the I 485 processing time, I-485 status, and more.
What Is the Processing Time Required for the I485 Form? What Are the Steps You Need to Take to Completely and Properly Apply for the I485 Form?
The waiting period after the form submission and when you hear back on an approval from the USCIS can make you extremely anxious, and it’s natural. However, the I 485 processing time can be longer than you expect, so you can really do nothing but wait patiently. After all, it is for the green card approval, so the cross-examination of the documents you have submitted, verification of all the information, etc. takes time. Another reason for the extended I 485 processing time is the place you are applying from. If there are too many applications in the queue before you, then naturally it will take a longer time.
This is one of the reasons why you need to provide all the documents correctly with accurate information. Even the smallest deviation from the original information or error in the details can lead to delays, cost you more money in rectifying mistakes, and sometimes get your petition rejected as well.
The I485 Processing Time?
So, coming back to I 485 processing time, you will receive I 485 receipt notice in about 2 to 6 weeks at the time you submit the application form. I 485 receipt notice is nothing but one of the I-797 notices mentioned earlier. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services take different processing time for different cases depending on the Green Card eligibility category you belong to and the place you applied from. For example, the average I 485 processing time may be longer if you have filed from Baltimore, MD, while the time maybe a little less in El Paso, TX.
How Do the Processing Times Vary According to the Category?
The minimum I 485 processing time is about 6 months but may even go up to 2.5 to 3 years in some cases. Here’s the category-wise processing time so you can pick up the information that is relevant to you:
- Family-based I 485 processing time: Between 6 months to 38.5 months (depending on which application center you are filing from.)
- Employment-based I 485 processing time: Between 8.5 to 27.5 months (irrespective of any state/ center you apply from)
- Asylum (Humanitarian) based I 485 processing time: Nebraska and Texas are the two service centers that process the application to adjust status. Both the states take the same processing time of around 7 months to 31 months depending on the case and the backlog.
- Refugee (Humanitarian) based I 485 processing time: Nebraska service center is where you process it from. It takes between 9.5 to 13.5 months.
- Other criteria processing time: Between 14.5 to 64 months.
- Approved T-visa based I 485 processing time: Between 10 months to 20.5 months in Vermont Service Center.
If you want to know the exact I 485 processing time, then you can visit the case processing time page to find out the I-485 status and the case-related information or how much longer is it going to take. The form is pretty straightforward asking you about the case related information like the form number, receipt number, date filed, applicant information, mailing address, etc. once you are done filling up these details, you will see a dedicated information box on “last action taken on the case” which is nothing but the last I-485 status that you have received from the USCIS.
Step-by-step Guide on What You Should Do to Apply for the Adjustment of Status (I-485):
Filing an I-485 petition may seem pretty complicated on the first look of it, especially with all the steps involved in it. The best thing that you should do is to take one step at a time. This guide should help you understand the process easily and complete it. We have divided the process into three phases-
- Things to do before filing
- How should you file
- Post filing steps
Things to Do Before Filing
- The very first step in the process of filing I-485 is that you must read all the instructions and details related to the filing process that includes all the dos and don’ts.
- Find out if you are eligible to apply for the green card or the adjustment of status. As mentioned earlier, not everyone is eligible to file for I-485.
- Determine if you can file for yourself or someone else needs to file the I-485 for you. Now, typically, someone else who is an American Citizen or a permanent resident (also known as the sponsor or petitioner) files it for you. In very few cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
- In most situations you need to fill up two different application forms- one is the immigrant petition and the other is the green card application. There are different immigrant petition forms so make sure to check which one is relevant to you.
Usually, the immigrant petition is filed first, and then on approval, you can apply for a green card. Click here to check your eligibility for concurrent filing.
- Do not forget to check the ‘visa availability’ if it applies to you. In some situations, you do not have to wait for the availability because it may be always available for you depending on which Green card eligibility category you belong to. However, if you fall under the eligibility group that needs to wait for the visa to be available, then you have to keep an eye on that first. Once the visa is available in your category you can go ahead and file for Adjustment of Status.
How Should You File?
- Considering that you have already read the instructions in detail from the previous phase, you now move on to filling the I-485 application form. This step has to be done with utmost care and focus to ensure an error-free filing.
- Complete the application form I-485 carefully. It is an 18 pages long form, so you will need a lot of patience to fill in all the details. Read the instructions on the form properly and then provide accurate information.
- Once you have completed filling all the spaces you need to, sign the I-485.
- Check all the supporting documents that you need to provide along with this Adjustment of Status application form. Keep them ready along with the form. (more on the document checklist in the next section).
- You will have to pay the I485 fee (if applicable) once you are ready with the completed and signed form.
- After completing the I485 fee payment, you need to file your I-485 form to USCIS Chicago Lockbox:
- Through USPS, use this address to send your i-485 application package to:
USCIS Attn: AOS
P.O. Box 805887
Chicago, IL 60680
- Through private shipping services like UPS, FedEx, or DHL, you can send the package to:
Attn: AOS (Box 805887)
131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
What Is the I485 Fee?
You need to pay a certain amount of money while filing for I-485 which is the ‘I485 fee’. It will cost you $1225 including the Biometric processing cost to file for a green card. But this I485 fee may vary depending on the age of the applicant. The ‘I485 fee for individuals under 14 years of age filing with the application of one of the parents is $750. Individuals under the age of 14 and not filing with the application of the parents is $1140. Individuals above 79 years of age need to pay an I 485 fee of $1140. Refugees living in the United States do not have to pay a filing fee at all.
You can also check the I485 fee you need to pay by clicking the USCIS fee calculator here.
How to Pay the I485 Fee?
The payment of the I485 fee depends on where you live. If you are within the United States, then you can pay using a credit or a debit card. You can also mail by card, check or money order, or go to the USCIS field office and pay it in person. To know more about the I485 fee payments, visit the filing fees page of the USCIS official website.
Post Filing Steps
I 485 Receipt Notice and Biometric Appointment
Once USCIS receives your application package, they will send you an I 485 receipt notice confirming that they have received your application. You will also receive the Biometric appointment notice that will include the date, the time, and where you need to go for your Biometric Services appointment. The location will be a local application support center. The officials will take your fingerprints, photograph and may ask you to sign an acknowledgment stating that all the information you have submitted is true.
You may receive another notice after the I 485 receipt notice, which will ask you to attend an interview. USCIS calls you for an interview only if it is necessary but remember that the interview notice can come anytime between 4 and 10 months after filing the application. The notice will include the date, the time, and the place where you need to go for the interview.
Go for the interview well-prepared with all the documents. Your interview may be called for an interview anytime between 6 and 12 months depending on when you receive the notice. You need to bring the originals of all the supporting documents that you have provided with the application. In case any of the information that you have furnished has become outdated at the time of the interview, like an address change, etc. make sure to carry the appropriate documents with the valid information.
Sending additional documents as evidence (if applicable): USCIS may send you a notice to provide additional supporting documents as evidence if the documents you provided are not sufficient, expired, or for additional investigation. You need to respond to this ASAP failing which your I-485 application might be rejected.
Check Your I-485 Status
You can either check the I-485 status online in the USCIS’s “Case status Online” page by feeding in your receipt number and clicking on the check status button below. You can also call them directly. Click here to go to the USCIS Contact Center for contact numbers. When you are calling them for an inquiry about the I-485 status, make sure to keep some details like the name, date of birth, receipt number, application number, etc. handy.
If your application is approved, you will get a notice from the USCIS first stating that your application has been approved. The green card will arrive in a few weeks.
What Are the Various Documents You Require for the I485 Form?
To support the fact that you are eligible to apply for the Adjustment of Status petition, you need to back your application with a few supporting documents that include:
- A copy of the I-94 admission number or travel document proving that the applicant had a valid visa when she or he arrived in the US.
- A copy foreign passport or another government-issued ID card with a photo on it.
- Birth certificate to prove the applicant’s nationality, or other proof of birth.
- Two to three color photos as per the USCIS photo guidelines.
- Employment letter on the company letterhead to support the job based on which you are applying for the green card. The employment letter should also have your salary mentioned on it.
- Form I-693- documents related to the medical examination of the applicant as conducted by the USCIS authorized physician.
- A copy of I-797 notice of action showing the approval I-130 (unless you are applying with the principal applicants I-485), I-140 (in case of employment-based application).
- Form I-765 (application for EAD) and I-131 (application for travel document) -these are optional and need to be brought along in case you applied for these.
- Form G-28 – this will allow your attorney to represent you.
- For applicants who fall under the age category of 14 to 79 years, you need to carry form G-325A (Biographic information).
Need the Full Checklist?
Click here for the checklist that you might need during the process. Not all documents are needed to be sent with the application but are just required to fill in the application form or may be needed later if asked by the USCIS.
Who Is Eligible for the I-485 Application?
Not everyone can file I-485. As per INA (Immigration and Nationality Act), there are certain criteria that an individual needs to fulfill to change their non-immigrant status to a green card. To make it easier, the USCIS has broken down the eligibility criteria into the following categories – employment-based eligibility, family-based eligibility, humanitarian grounds, and green card through the registry.
Employment-based eligibility means that you can apply for a green card through a job offer through a company that is based in the US. (with the help of an approved I-140 petition)
Family-based eligibility includes a petition for a relative of the person who is a permanent resident or a US Citizen. You can either be an ‘immediate relative’ of the US Citizen or the green card holder like spouse, child, or parent. You can also apply for I-485 if you are a ‘preference relative’ like the brother/ sister or married/unmarried son or daughter of the American citizen or permanent resident. K1 visa holders are also eligible to apply for adjusting status.
Can Refugees Apply for a Green Card?
On Humanitarian-based eligibility, refugees and asylees can apply for a green card after they complete one year living in the United States. This category also covers victims of human trafficking, abuse, or any other crime.
A green card through the registry makes you eligible to apply for permanent residence if you have lived or have been living in the United States since before January 1, 1972.
Other than the above-mentioned categories, an individual holding Cuban citizenship, or the native of Cuba, or fall under LRIF, HRIFA, Lautenburg Parolee, American Indian born in Canada.
Filing form I-485 or applying for a green card is a complex process but following all the guidelines carefully will make things a little better if not easier. While it is always a good idea to take the help of an immigration attorney in this process, you can do it by yourself if you cannot afford one. From applying for adjustment of status to finally getting a green card is a lengthy process and all you can do is wait patiently until you hear back from them. It can take from a few months to even two to three years to get a decision from the USCIS. They will mail you in either situation, whether your application is approved or rejected. But until then you can keep checking the I-485 status to get an update on where your case stands.
We hope this article helps you in some way throughout the application process and gets you a green card without hassle!
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
To work in the US, you will need a work permit or the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If you already have a work permit then you can work there while you wait for the decision on the I-485 applications. However, if you do not, and if you have applied for EAD along with the Adjustment of Status application, then you will have to wait for your EAD to be issued first.
If your application is not prepared properly then there are chances that it might be rejected. In situations like missing or incorrect information, documents, or evidence provided aren’t sufficient, not responding to the notices sent by USCIS on time may result in delays and even rejection of the application. As per the reports, around 11% of the I-485 application gets rejected.
The “Adjustment of Status” interview typically lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes. However, the waiting time after you reach the venue may be longer than that. It is recommended to have a proper meal before you go there because you do not know how long you might have to wait.