Frequently Asked Questions of I-485 Adjustment of Status
What is Form I-485?
The application for adjusting immigration status is called Form I-485. Non-residents currently in the U.S. under specific types of temporary visas, and who wish to switch to a different visa classification, can file for a change of non-resident status by filing out an I-485 form.
When should I file Form I-485?
All I-485 applications are filed concurrently when I-140 is filed, pending, or approved. Note: The non-resident must file form I-485 before the expiration of Form I-94.
What does it cost to file Form I-485?
The cost of the filing fee for I-485 is $985. There is also an additional $85 biometric fee, when applicable, for a total of $1070. The check should be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. The following are exceptions in which the applicant does not have to pay the entire $1070:
Applicants 79 years or older are not charged a biometric fee; the fee total is $985.
There is no fee for applicants filing Form I-485 based on being admitted to the U.S. as a refugee.
There is no fee for applicants filing as a refugee under section 209(a) of the INA.
For applicants under 14 years of age:
A: Filing concurrently with the I-485 application of at least one parent has a fee total of $985.
B: Not filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent has a fee total of $985.
What documents are required when filing I-485?
The I-485 application must be accompanied by:
Two photographs of the applicant.
Non-residents fourteen years of age or older must include a biographical information form, Form G-325A.
The application must include evidence that the non-resident will not become a public charge. For employment-based immigration cases, the applicant can show adequate financial support evidence such as a current letter of employment from the employer stating the currently salary and that the job offer remains open. Other evidence can be provided, such as W-2s, tax returns, and non-binding support affidavits from family members on Form I-134.
The applicant must include results of a medical examination on Form I-693. The exam must be given by an approved “civil surgeon”. The examination consists of a review of vaccination records, a serology test, and TB testing. The doctor must put the results into a sealed envelope at the end of the examination and give it to the non-resident. For the results to be accepted, the envelope must remain sealed.
What employment documents should be submitted? How long is it valid?
The Affidavit of Support I-864 must be submitted by the adjustment applicant within six months of being signed by the sponsor. It will remain legal indefinitely if the form is presented within the six month period. If it is more than twelve months between the completion of the affidavit and the interview, current supporting evidence may be required.
What proof of vaccinations must be presented at the medical examination?
The non-resident must submit proof of vaccinations during the medical examination for these diseases: influenza type B, hemophilic influenza type B, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, meningococcal, polio, varicella (chickenpox), mumps, measles, pertussis, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, and pneumococcal vaccines. The civil surgeon will give one dose of each vaccine needed during the medical examination if the applicant’s records prove that he or she did not receive a full series of the vaccine and the applicant has no supporting evidence of immunity. If the dose given during the examination does not complete the vaccine series, the civil surgeon will also certify the non-resident’s eligibility for a “not medically appropriate” waiver.
How long is the medical examination result valid?
The validity of the medical exam results given on Form I-693 has been extended until the application is decided by the USCIS.
What to do after filing I-485?
The USCIS or designated local or state Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) are required by a law enacted in 1997 to conduct fingerprinting for adjustment cases.
Where is the fingerprinting done? And what should I bring when I have my fingerprinting done?
Fingerprinting centers called Application Support Centers (ASCs) do the actual fingerprinting in most cases. The non-resident should bring the appointment notice and a valid piece of identification such as a non-resident registration receipt card or other photo identification (i.e., state-issued driver’s license) to the scheduled appointment. The USCIS will present the fingerprint card to the FBI for a background check after fingerprinting is complete. Before an adjustment application can be decided, a positive response must be received from the FBI.
How long does it take to receive FBI clearance after my fingerprint is taken?
It usually takes thirty days for the FBI clearance to appear in the USCIS system once fingerprints are taken.
How long is the clearance valid?
Clearances are valid for fifteen months from the date that the clearance and fingerprint are in the system. Once the clearance has expired, the applicant needs to be fingerprinted again.
Can I file Advance Parole (AP) or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) concurrently with I-485?
As a feature of the adjustment of status application package, the employment authorization (USCIS Form I-765) or advance parole (USCIS Form I-131) applications can be filed simultaneously with I-485 at the service center. These forms can be filed together. If you file the I-765 and/or I-131 separately after July 30, 2007, you must also send a copy of the Notice of Action (I-797C) receipt as evidence when filing a I-485.
Is there an additional fee if I file EAD and /or AP simultaneously with I-485?
No extra fee is required to also file an application for employment authorization (Form I-765) and/or advance parole (Form I-131) if you file Form I-485 to adjust your status as a permanent resident.
What is the processing procedure for I-485?
Initial application processing takes place at a USCIS service center or Lockbox Facility. After filing the application, the USCIS will send the applicant a fingerprinting notice. The applicant will be either scheduled or told to schedule an interview with the local Application Support Center (ASC). The fingerprints will be given to the FBI for a fingerprint check through law enforcement databases. The USCIS will also contact the applicant if documents are missing or unclear (for example, the documents creating the relationship are unclear). In this case, the USCIS will issue a Request for Further Evidence (RFE). RFEs must be answered within twelve weeks of the request. RFEs will not be issued for medical exam results since these results can be presented at the time of the interview.
What checks are conducted regarding an I-485 application?
The USCIS conducts several checks in determining I-485 applications:
A petition is tested against a USCIS fraudulent petition index which is a record of prior petitions filed where fraud was involved.
Background (name) checks are compared against a multi-agency database containing lookout information on persons with a history of immigration problems or may pose security threats.
Concurrently filed petitions may be checked against files in existence for the beneficiary and/or petitioner to determine if the information in the petition is consistent with prior statements made by either party.
The USCIS may conduct a check of the authenticity of supporting evidence against DOS descriptions contained in that agency’s Foreign Affairs Manual. The USCIS may request the original documents if there is any doubt concerning these documents.
Regarding applications for additional benefits, the USCIS will conduct a review of all I-140s simultaneously filed with I-485s prior to judgment of employment authorization applications (Form I-765’s) or applications for advance parole (filed on Form I-131).
Is an interview required for I-485?
For I-485 adjustments of status, interviews may be waived based on a USCIS decision. Interviews are usually not necessary for cases involving employment-based petitions where the applicant has already been filling the position on a non-immigrant visa. The service center will conduct final processing if the interview requirement is waived. When an interview is required, the file is sent to the local office, which conducts the interview and issues a decision on the application. When the file is forwarded to a local office, requests for additional benefits and status inquiries should be addressed to that office.
What should I bring to the Interview?
Once the fingerprinting has been completed and the papers have been filed, applicants requiring an interview will receive a notice in the mail about the interview appointment. The notice will provide the place and time of the interview and which documents to bring to the interview.
When an interview is scheduled, the applicant should bring the following to the interview:
The appointment notice;
Required medical examination results on Form I-693 (if the results were not submitted with the original application);
His/her Form I-94;
All original documents;
A current letter of employment from the non-resident’s employer, verifying continued employment at a defined salary; and
All petition documents when the petition was filed with the application.
How is an interview performed? What questions are usually asked in an interview?
While the applicant is under oath, the USCIS officer will review the information on Form I-485 for accuracy and will correct any mistakes.
What are some questions a USCIS examiner may ask?
He/she will ask the non-resident the questions from the form regarding admissibility.
He/she may ask about permanent residence, particularly about the offer of employment if applicable.
If the non-resident has been unemployed but has been in the U.S. for a long time, the examiner will look closely at the non-resident’s income sources to make sure that he or she was not involved in unauthorized employment.
What if the application is not approved at the interview?
If the application is not approved at the interview because the correct approvals have not been received or because the non-resident must provide more information, then these issues must be resolved before the approval notice is sent.
When will I receive an approval notice? Can I start work or travel abroad after I receive an approval notice?
Once the DOS has assigned the visa number, the non-resident will be sent an approval notice which is Form I-797. The USCIS will issue a Permanent Resident Card which is Form I-551. The approval notice (Form I-797) is not acceptable evidence of permanent residence for traveling outside the U.S. and being readmitted as a resident, or for proving employment authorization. After receiving the approval notice, the non-resident must go to the USCIS office to receive temporary proof of permanent residence. Temporary proof is usually a stamp in the applicant’s passport. With this stamp, the non-resident can prove employment authorization and can travel abroad and be readmitted to the U.S.
Will the visas of my spouse and children be approved if they are still in my home country?
Your spouse or unmarried children under 21 can get immigrant visas from a U.S. consulate in your home country if you have adjusted status. This process is called “following to join” the principal non-resident. You should request that your status change to permanent residence notification be sent to the U.S. consulate where visa processing will take place.
What if the age of my child becomes 21 during the period of adjusting status?
New laws provide for continued classification of certain non-residents as children in cases where the non-residents “age out” while waiting for immigration processing.
Can I change jobs while my I-485 is pending? Will it influence the validity of my I-140 approval?
A new law says that non-residents whose adjustment for status case has been pending for more than 180 days can change jobs or employers without affecting the validity of the I-140 or labor certification, as long as the job is in the same or similar classification.
If I go back to my home country while my I-485 is pending, can I adjust my status in my home country after filing I-485?
The answer is yes. If you decide that you would prefer to process your visa abroad after filing the adjustment application, you will need to take further steps in order to proceed with the process. Specifically, you must file Form I-824 with the USCIS office that approved the initial petition to request that the consulate be notified when the petition is approved.
Can I appeal the USCIS’s decision if my application gets denied?
The applicant must be given a written decision outlining the reasons when a decision is made to deny an application for adjustment of status. If your nonimmigrant visa is still valid, you can stay in the U.S. until the expiration date. If the nonimmigrant visa has expired, you may face deportation after the denial of I-485 application. The USCIS cannot accept appeals from denied applications. If there is a valid reason for appeal based on argument of law or on the submission of pertinent case evidence that was not available when the case was denied, you can present a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider to the USCIS office.