Your Guide to the I-485 Form: Requirements, Instructions, & More

The Form I-485 is better known as the “adjustment of status” form. This is used when an individual has met certain requirements and is ready to file for permanent residency.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: August 3, 2020, Last updated on: March 22, 2024.

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What is the Form I-485?

Nonimmigrants visiting the United States on a temporary visa can become green card holders. To do so, they must apply for an Adjustment of Status utilizing Form I-485. This form requests permission from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjust an individual’s status from a nonimmigrant visa holder to a permanent resident (green card holder).

Learn everything you need to know about the I-485 “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status” form from the expert immigration lawyers at Tadeo & Silva.

Form I-485 Overview

Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It’s intended for foreign nationals who want to modify their visa status to permanent residence while living in the United States.

As a temporary visa holder, this form allows you to begin your green card application process without returning to your home country. If USCIS approves your application, your green card request will be granted, and your status will be modified from nonimmigrant to immigrant visa status.

This grants you the right to register permanent residence or, in other words, work and reside in the U.S. indefinitely. You may also be eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalization.

What is the I 485 Form

Questions about Form I-485?

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Form I-485 Filing Instructions

You can acquire a copy of Form I-485 on the USCIS I-485 page here. From there, you can download the form and print it.

USCIS also provides an in-depth instruction guide for filling out the application here. However, it’s best to consult an immigration lawyer before submitting your Form I-485 application.

Our dedicated immigration attorneys can guide you through each step of the process and answer any questions.

Form I-485 Checklist for Application

In addition to your completed I-485 “adjustment of status,” you must include several documents with your Form I-485 application. Your immigration attorney will help you assemble these documents, which include the following:

  • Two passport-style photos
  • I-94 travel document
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • A copy of the approval receipt for your green card from the USCIS
  • Your marriage certificate, if you are applying for a marriage-based green card
  • Your job offer letter, if you are applying for an employment-based green card
  • A copy of your Employment Authorization Document, if you have one
  • I-797 approval receipt number of your nonimmigrant visa
  • A copy of the results of your medical examination, if necessary (Form I-693)

If required supporting documents are unavailable, you may be eligible to submit alternative documents. For example, if you can’t obtain a copy of your birth certificate, you may submit other documents, such as school or medical records, along with proof of nonexistence or unavailability. That can be a statement from a government agency responsible for such documents in your home country, certifying that such a birth certificate can’t be obtained.

If neither of the above alternative documents is available, you may be able to submit written statements from at least two individuals who were alive when you were born and know the facts of your birth.

Supporting Documents for a Marriage-Based Form I-485

The above adjustment of status checklist is not all-inclusive. Depending on your specific circumstances, additional documentation may be necessary.

For example, you’ll need certain supporting documents with a marriage-based I-485 application. These documents may include Form I-864, otherwise called Affidavit of Support. This document will prove that the sponsoring spouse can financially support the immediate relative seeking a green card or lawful permanent residence.

Also, if your foreign wife or husband is present in the U.S., it may be possible to file Form I-485 and I-130, called “Petition for Alien Relative,” simultaneously. This process is known as concurrent filing. Your Tadeo & Silva immigration lawyer will help you determine which documents are required for your application.

Form I 485 Instructions

Get the Facts on Form I-485: Requirements, Instructions, & More

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Form I-485 Fee

The fee for filing Form I-485 488 is $1,140 for most applicants. However, this amount can vary depending on your specific circumstances. Your attorney will be able to give you a more precise understanding of how much it will cost to file your Adjustment of Status form and the fees for other areas of your application.

The government filing fee is reduced to $750 for children ages 13 and under when filing with at least one parent. There is no I-485 filing fee for individuals applying as a refugee under section 209(a) of the INA. There is also an $85 biometrics services fee for all candidates between the ages of 14 and 78. That makes the total government filing fee $1,225 for the Application to Adjust Status Form I-485.

Where to File I-485 Application

Once you have completed your Form I-485 and collected all necessary documentation, you’re all set to file and submit your adjustment of status application. The exact address where you will send your form will depend upon your eligibility category.

Where to Send Your I-485 Application to Adjust Status

The application addresses are subject to change, so it’s best to check the USCIS website’s I-485 addresses page here to determine where you should send your application. Your attorney will also be a good resource for knowing where to file your Form I-485 application.

I 485 Fee

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I-485 Interview Process

Once your application has been submitted, you will be asked to attend an interview. This is likely the final step of your application process.

USCIS occasionally waives the interview requirement for applicants with straightforward cases, which is relatively uncommon, so you must be prepared to speak face-to-face with an immigration official. Your lawyer can prepare you for your interview and will inform you of what you need to be aware of going into the interview, which will vary depending on your eligibility category.

An I-485 interview typically takes about twenty-five minutes. Your interviewer will inquire about your application for adjustment of status and might ask you to elaborate on a few of your responses. They will also double-check that nothing on your record would render you ineligible for an adjustment of status, such as a public charge.

At an employment-based I-485 interview, a USCIS officer will examine the applicant’s job description. USCIS will likewise inspect the applicant’s income taxes to identify if they have been employed in the U.S. without approval. Employers are not required to participate in interviews for employment-based I-485 applications.

For a change of status based on a national interest waiver, the immigration officer carrying out the Form I-485 interview will want to know if the candidate has stayed in compliance with their initial Form I-140 and has not participated in fraud to acquire immigration advantages.

If you are applying for a marriage-based adjustment of status, both partners must attend the interview. You should expect the questions to be more personal since USCIS must verify that the marital relationship is legitimate.

 

Form I-485 Interview Questions

The last step in becoming a green card holder is the I-485 interview. Although in some straightforward cases, USCIS may waive the interview, if you have submitted an I-485 application to register an adjustment of status based on marriage, the interview will almost certainly occur.

If that is the case, here are some of the questions you may expect:

  • When and where did you get married?
  • Where did you go on your honeymoon?
  • Where did your spouse live when you met them?
  • What are your spouse’s favorite foods/hobbies/siblings’ names?
  • What is the monthly payment for your cars, if you have any?
  • Who pays the household bills, and how?
  • What does your bedroom look like?
  • How many sleeping rooms do you have in your home?
  • Are the sleeping rooms on the same side of your place of living?
  • Do you sleep on the right or the left side of the bed?

It’s normal to be nervous before your green card interview. Even though you are encouraged to practice your answers, don’t learn them by heart. Try to sound natural. You are not obligated to portray the perfect marriage, but you should answer the officer’s questions truthfully.

 

Navigating Common I-485 Interview Questions

The journey to U.S. permanent residency is paved with inquiries designed to authenticate your application’s integrity. Here, we unravel some frequently asked questions during the I-485 interview, providing clarity and direction for hopeful applicants.

  • What is the purpose of your stay in the U.S.? This question seeks to understand your intentions and ensure they align with permanent residency requirements.
  • Can you provide details about your employment history? Employment verification is crucial for employment-based adjustment applications, highlighting the importance of your contribution to the U.S. economy.
  • How did you meet your spouse? For marriage-based applications, this question probes the genuineness of your relationship, a cornerstone of your application’s success.
  • Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? Transparency about your legal history is vital, as it directly impacts your eligibility for adjustment of status.

Remember, each question serves as a stepping stone towards your goal of permanent residency. Approach them with honesty and preparation, reflecting the earnestness of your application.

I 485 Interview Process

Learn everything you need to know about the Form I-485 here

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I-485 Processing Time

How long does it take to get a green card when filing for an adjustment of status? The answer isn’t as straightforward as most applicants would like, but the processing time can range anywhere from 8 and 14 months after submitting Form I-485. Most of this processing time will occur between your application filing and the interview date.

How Long Does it Take for Form I-485 to Get Approved?

If your I-485 interview goes well, USCIS might approve your adjustment of status application on the spot. In other cases, however, you will not be given an instant decision. If that occurs, you will be informed of their decision through your mailing address.

The basis of your adjustment of status application will be an essential factor in your processing time. However, even more, important to your I-485 processing time is your decision to work with an experienced immigration lawyer.

 

Where Can I Find My Alien Registration Number?

If you reside in the United States as a non-citizen, your Alien Registration Number (also known as an A-Number) is typically issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are a few places where you can find your Alien Registration Number:

  1. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card): If you are a lawful permanent resident, your Alien Registration Number can be found on the front of your Green Card. It is usually located in the top section, just below your name.
  2. Employment Authorization Document (EAD): If you have been granted an employment authorization document, your Alien Registration Number can be found on the front of the card. It is usually labeled as the USCIS#.
  3. Immigration Court Documents: If you have appeared before an immigration court, your Alien Registration Number may be referenced in the court documents related to your case.
  4. USCIS Correspondence: If you have received any official correspondence from USCIS, your Alien Registration Number may be included in the documents. Look for nine digits starting with the letter “A.”
  5. USCIS Online Account: If you have created an online account with USCIS, you may be able to find your Alien Registration Number by logging in and accessing your profile or previous applications.

If you cannot find your Alien Registration Number through these methods or if you have further questions, it is advisable to contact USCIS directly for assistance.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

 

Your attorney can guide you through the application process to ensure that your application is error-free. This will reduce the likelihood of hiccups so you can begin your journey toward becoming a lawful permanent resident as quickly and efficiently as possible. Contact the trusted immigration lawyers at Tadeo & Silva today to get started.

I 485 Processing Time

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