A Complete Guide To

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Form I-485 Explained

What is the purpose of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status?

Certain foreign nationals who are physically present in the United States may use Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to apply for permanent resident status (green card). Only individuals who are eligible for a green card and meet some additional requirements may adjust status to permanent residence. The major benefit of adjustment of status compared to consular processing is that the applicant may remain in the United States while waiting for a green card. Generally, they may even obtain a Social Security number, accept U.S. employment and travel (after submitting some additional forms).

To file Form I-485, the intending immigrant must satisfy three fundamental requirements. Eligibility to adjust status requires that the applicant must:

  • Be physically present inside the United States;
    You must be inside the United States when filing the adjustment of status application (and will need to complete the process inside the U.S.).
  • Have made a lawful entry into the United States; and
    Lawful entry means that you were admitted or paroled into the U.S. For most people, this means that you entered the U.S. with valid documentation and made face-to-face contact with a U.S. immigration officer, and that officer acknowledged your entry to the United States. If you entered with a valid visa, but that visa has since expired, you still had a lawful entry.
  • Have an immigrant visa immediately available to you.
    Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may file Form I-485 together with the I-130 petition. That's because a visa is always available to the immediate relative category. However, family preference applicants must make sure a visa is available. Their category must be "current" in the visa bulletin before filing Form I-485. (For a detailed explanation, see How to Read the Visa Bulletin).

I-485 Online Filing

Can Form I-485 be filed online?

At this time, there is no way to submit Form I-485 to USCIS electronically, but you can prepare the form with an online service to make sure you do it correctly.

USCIS has not introduced online filing for this form. Regardless, e-file doesn't necessarily mean you get quick processing. If you are interested a quick approval, focus on submitting a well-prepared application package. It’s the difference between saving a couple of days with online filing versus saving several weeks with smooth processing. What’s more, USCIS is not your advocate. They are not looking out for your best interests. If you include information that damages your immigration future, USCIS isn’t going to correct you.

For people who want to make sure they are preparing the application correctly, CitizenPath offers an affordable service created by immigration attorneys. CitizenPath’s Adjustment of Status Package will make the application easy and give you alerts if there’s a problem. You’ll also receive detailed filing instructions so you know exactly which supporting documents to submit with your application. CitizenPath even provides a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your green card application.

Adjustment of Status Application Package

Which forms should I include with Form I-485?

Most people filing an "adjustment of status application package" will include several forms at the same time. This is known as concurrent filing. Remember, you may only file Form I-485 if an immigrant visa is immediately available to you. Therefore, typically only immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can file the I-130 petition concurrently.

When prepared and packaged correctly, concurrent filing can help speed up your processing time. USCIS will have everything they need to make a decision on your case and issue a decision. The typical family-based adjustment of status application package will include the following forms:

  • I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
    This is the primary form in the package and is the actual application for green card status in the United States.
  • I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
    A petition is essential for establishing the underlying eligibility for a green card. For family-based petitions, you must establish that you have a qualifying relationship.
  • I-130A Supplement (if I-130 is based on a spousal relationship)
    The supplement is only necessary when the I-130 petitioner is a spouse. It includes additional information about the intending immigrant.
  • I-864, Affidavit of Support
    The petitioner must also act as a financial sponsor. This affidavit helps the intending immigrant overcome the public charge grounds for inadmissibility.
  • I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
    An optional form, applicants should use this form if they would like to work while waiting for the green card. Employment authorization is required to accept employment.
  • I-131, Application for Travel Document
    An optional form, applicants should use this form if they will travel outside the United States. An advance parole travel document is necessary to preserve the Form I-485 and reenter the U.S. after temporary travel abroad.
  • I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
    The applicant must attend a medical exam with a USCIS-approved doctor. The doctor's office prepares this form and provides it to you in a sealed envelope.

Again, the list of forms above is for a typical family-based case. The same forms may not be necessary for other situations. For additional examples, see the typical forms and fees for adjustment of status.

When you use CitizenPath to prepare your adjustment of status package, we provide personalized filing instructions based on your answers. You'll know exactly which forms to include, which supporting documents to submit, and where to mail the package. Our support team is also ready to help.

Form I-485 Instructions

How do I fill out I-485?

CitizenPath's easy-to-use website helps you prepare the application quickly and accurately. Our online service provides step-by-step I-485 instructions so that you can fill out the application in the same day. We even give you a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application.

If you prefer to fill out the Form I-485 PDF, you can download instructions from USCIS or follow this summary of directions.

General Guidance

  • Type or print answers in black ink only. 
  • Enter “N/A” if an answer is not applicable and "NONE" if your answer is zero.
  • Foreign language documents must be accompanied by a full English certified translation.
  • Submit your application with the current USCIS filing fee. Use a personal check, money order, cashier’s check or use Form G-1450 to pay by credit card.
  • Submit photocopies for all supporting documents unless an original document is specifically required.

Part 1

  • For Names, use your current legal name. If you married in the U.S. the marriage certificate is generally a legal name change document. You can start using your married name. USCIS will use this name to issue the green card. Be sure to list any other versions of your name used in the past such as a maiden name.
  • For Other Information About You, do not list an alien registration number or USCIS online account number unless one has been issued to you.
  • For Mailing Address, provide any address where you can safely receive mail. USCIS will mail you notices and appointment information at this address.
  • For Social Security Card, indicate if you've ever had a Social Security number issued to you. If not, this is the fastest way to have the number issued to you.
  • For Recent Immigration History, include information regarding your most recent entry to the United States. Proof of this lawful entry is essential for eligibility. Make sure your information matches corresponding documentation. Even if you have a new passport since entry, use the passport information from your most recent entry. You may submit a photocopy of both passports when filing.

Part 2

  • For Application Type, indicate the basis of your eligibility. You need to select one immigrant category.
  • For Information About Your Immigrant Category, provide details from the underlying petition (if applicable). For example, someone with a previously filed Form I-130, I-129F or I-140 would need to provide this information. Individuals filing concurrently do not need to provide any information.

Part 3

  • For Additional Information About You, provide details if you ever submitted an immigrant visa application from abroad. If it was denied, it is also important to understand the reason and if it will affect your current Form I-485 application. Seek legal counsel if necessary.
  • For Address History, list each address where you have lived over the past five years. It is not necessary to list temporary trips. If the two spaces are not adequate, attach a separate sheet as an addendum.
  • For Employment History, list each employer you've had over the past five years. This includes self-employment as well as military service. If the two spaces are not adequate, attach a separate sheet as an addendum.

Parts 4, 5, 6 and 7

  • For Information About Your Parents, provide details as requested. You may insert "Deceased" in the residence space if that parent has passed away.
  • For Information About Your Marital History, enter all information to the best of your ability. If your immigrant category is based on marriage, it is important to be thorough. In particular, supply dates when previous marriages ended.
  • For Information About Your Children, provide requested details about all of your children, regardless of age.
  • For Biographic Information, answer how you identify in terms of race and ethnicity. Indicate other details about your height, weight, eye color and hair color.

Part 8

  • For General Eligibility and Inadmissibility Grounds, take your time to carefully answer each question correctly. List each organization that you ever been a member of or associated with in any way. Examples include religious organizations, professional associations, political groups and social clubs. USCIS may evaluate your affiliations with certain organizations that may be illegal or against the general principles of American democracy. Use your best judgement to determine if your involvement with a group or organization conflicts with these principles. If you are unsure, talk to an attorney.
  • For Criminal Acts and Violations, some crimes will affect your application while others will not. If you must answer "Yes" to any question, speak to an immigration attorney to see how it affects your case.
  • For Illegal Entries and Other Immigration Violations, be honest about past violations, including overstays. Again, if you must answer "Yes" to any question, understand how it affects your case. For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens a current overstay is generally not an obstacle. For other categories, minor immigration violations can be very problematic.

Parts 9, 10, 11 and 12

  • For Accommodations, indicate any disability or impairments for which you would like USCIS to provide accommodations. USCIS will make accommodations for you at the time of your biometrics screening and any other appointments.
  • For Applicant's Statement, provide the requested information and important contact information so that USCIS may contact you during the process. Sign your application with black ink. A surprising number of I-485 rejections are the result of applicants forgetting to sign or signing in the wrong place.
  • For Interpreter and Preparer, provide information if applicable. If you prepared your Form I-485, it’s only necessary to sign as the “applicant.” If another person translated or prepared the application for you, be sure Parts 11 and 12 are filled in and signed appropriately.

This is an abbreviated list of Form I-485 instructions. We highly recommend that you download USCIS instructions or use CitizenPath’s service to prepare the application. CitizenPath provides filing instructions customized to your situation. You’ll get detailed I-485 instructions that explain which supporting documents to submit, how to organize, and where to mail.

Filing Addresses for the Application

Where should I file Form I-485?

USCIS accepts the I-485 application via mail only. They do not want applicants to submit the form in-person at USCIS offices. At the time of writing this guide, USCIS has over eight Form I-485 filing addresses. The address depends on various factors such as the basis of eligibility (e.g. family, employment, asylum, etc.) and U.S. state of residence. For the most up-to-date address, refer to your CitizenPath filing instructions or use the USCIS I-485 direct filing addresses.

Although USCIS receives your application package at these locations, they will process them somewhere else. If you have an interview, it will be at a USCIS field office near that home address you provide.

I-485 Application Processing Time

How long does it take?

USCIS is reporting processing times in excess of one year. However, CitizenPath customers generally receive their green cards more quickly. For an in-depth look at what happens after filing Form I-485, visit our I-485 processing time line.

Time line for Form I-485 processing at USCIS

How CitizenPath Helps You

Is there an inexpensive way to file the I-485 application?

CitizenPath's affordable, online service makes it easy to prepare Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Designed by immigration lawyers, the Adjustment of Status Package helps you eliminate the common errors that create delays, rejections and even denials. That's because the service alerts you when your answer to a question may be a problem. You'll also get customized filing instructions based on your situation. It's a powerful, do-it-yourself tool that puts you in control. And we've got your back -- CitizenPath provides live customer support and provides a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application.

STEP
1
Check Eligibility
No signup required.

We're going to ask you a few questions to make sure you're eligible and preparing the correct form.

STEP
2
Prepare Form I-485
There’s no obligation to purchase.

Our software will guide you through the I-485 application using simple step-by-step instructions.

STEP
3
Download, Print and File
Pay only $249 + USCIS fees.

Once you're completely satisfied, you’ll be able to print your I-485 and customized filing instructions.

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