Form I-485 Processing TimeWhat Happens After Filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status
Steps in the USCIS Process
I-485 Processing Statistics
1. Receipt of Application
Approximately 2 to 4 Weeks After Filing
If you properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, USCIS will initially respond by mailing you a receipt notice that confirms receipt of your application. Formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action (see example below), the receipt notice typically arrives 2 to 4 weeks after filing. If you did not properly file your Form I-485, USCIS will send a Notice of Action to reject the application. A rejection will significantly delay your request and overall I-485 processing time. Thus, it's important to prepare the adjustment of status application package correctly and submit all required supporting documents. Learn how.
Save your I-485 receipt notice. It contains your 10-digit receipt number. You can use this receipt number to check your case status. If you didn’t receive a Notice of Action, you can make a case inquiry.
I-485 Rejection Statistics
Source: USCIS FY2022
2. Biometrics Appointment
Approximately 5 to 8 Weeks After Filing
Next, USCIS mails an appointment notice that assigns your biometrics appointment date, time and location. (The location will generally be the USCIS Application Support Center nearest you.) USCIS requires applicants to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting a security clearance and criminal background check. Don’t be alarmed — All applicants must have background checks.
The USCIS biometrics appointment, also known as a biometric screening, is generally a short appointment (less than 20 minutes) so that USCIS can collect your fingerprints, photograph and signature. Your appointment notice will tell you what you need to take to the appointment. Expect to take some form of government-issued photo identification to enter the building. USCIS can accept ID documents such as:
- Passport or national photo identification issued by your country
- Driver’s license
- Military photo identification
- State-issued photo identification card
This is not an interview. The appointment’s purpose is to collect your biometrics information only. Try to attend the appointment as scheduled. Rescheduling the biometrics appointment will lengthen your the I-485 processing time. If you think you might have a criminal record (even a DUI), contact an immigration lawyer before going to a biometrics appointment. Some crimes will make you ineligible for immigration benefits.
I-485 Historical Processing Times at USCIS
The graph below illustrates median processing times (in months) for the previous 10 fiscal years. There's been a fairly steady increase in the time it takes USCIS to process adjustment of status applications. With more demanding requirements and an increasingly complex form, USCIS is struggling to keep I-485 processing times within their desired range.
3. Receive Your EAD Card
Approximately 14 to 20 Weeks After Filing
If you also submitted Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, as a part of your adjustment of status package, you will be receiving an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Many people call it a work permit. If you applied for both, the EAD and advance parole travel document may be combined on a single combo card. (More recently USCIS may not issue a combo card in an effort to improve processing times of the individual benefits.)
The card is also evidence of your lawful status as an "adjustment of status applicant" who may work in the United States and travel outside the U.S. according to the guidelines of advance parole.
I-485 Backlog Report
The graph below shows the number of open cases at the end of each fiscal year. There is an unprecedented number of adjustment of status cases in the backlog. If unaddressed by USCIS, more backlog can contribute to longer processing times.
4. Adjustment of Status Interview
Approximately 8 to 14 Months After Filing
Next in the I-485 timeline, you may receive a notice to attend an adjustment of status interview. Family-based immigrants petitioned by a spouse are virtually always interviewed. However, USCIS may waive other family-based categories at their discretion. A well-prepared adjustment package with all necessary documentation improves your chances of a waived interview.
The interview appointment notice will arrive by mail as another Form I-797, Notice of Action. USCIS will schedule the adjustment of status interview at a USCIS facility near you, and it probably will last less than 30 minutes. Make every attempt to attend the scheduled interview time. Rescheduling an interview will add several weeks to the adjustment process.
If USCIS scheduled you for an interview, prepare before attending. Start by reviewing your I-485 and related forms. Be sure that you’re familiar with the answers. If anything is out-of-date (such as a new address or employer), take the updated information with you to the interview. Review an adjustment of status interview checklist.
There are several items that you should be prepared to take to the interview:
- A complete copy of your immigrant petition and adjustment of status application. The USCIS officer will be reviewing these documents, so be able to explain your answers if necessary.
- Originals of any documents that you submitted copies to USCIS, such as birth and marriage certificates.
- Advance Parole document and/or Employment Authorization Card (if you have one).
- Your passport, which contains the nonimmigrant visa or parole by which you entered the U.S.
Total I-485 Processing Time
In some cases, you may be granted permanent residence at the end of the interview. If approved, USCIS will mail the green card to you shortly thereafter. If USCIS denies your application, they will mail you a notice explaining the reasons for the adjustment of status denial.
As a permanent resident, you have the right to travel outside the United States and return with a valid, unexpired green card. You may also use the card as proof of your right to work in the United States. Congratulations!
Although the steps that take place are fairly consistent, the Form I-485 processing time will vary based on the USCIS case load, the USCIS office where you filed, and your ability to properly file an accurately prepared adjustment of status application package.
Once your adjustment of status application is approved, you may ask the USCIS office to place an “I-551” stamp in your passport. This is temporary proof that you are a permanent resident and is valid for re-entry at a U.S. port of entry. If you did not receive your green card in the mail, you can make a case inquiry.
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