Form I-485 Processing Time

What Happens After Filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status

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, the green card timeline has begun. 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.

I-797C Notice of Action Example

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

Last year USCIS received
I-485 applications
But USCIS rejected about
due to incorrect filing

Source: USCIS FY2023

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
Biometric screening is a part of green card timeline

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 length of the green card timeline. With more demanding requirements and an increasingly complex form, USCIS is struggling to keep I-485 processing times within their desired range.

Source: USCIS

3. Receive Your EAD Card

Approximately 8 to 20 Weeks After Filing

If you also submitted Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, USCIS is currently issuing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in approximately 8 weeks. Many people call it a work permit. If you requested advance parole with Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, USCIS is generally taking much longer to issue this document. Historically, 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.

EAD grated during the I-485 processing timeline

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 and a longer green card timeline.

Source: USCIS

4. Adjustment of Status Interview

Approximately 8 to 14 Months After Filing

Next in the grene card 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.
USCIS officer congratulates new permanent resident at the end of the green card timeline

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!

Most I-485 applications are denied or approved within
8 to 0 months
of the filing date

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.

CitizenPath Helps Optimize Your Processing Time

How long is the green card timeline?

Our goal is to help you obtain a green card. And our customers generally experience some of the best I-485 processing times because of our approach. Our objective is to help you prepare an application that meets the eligibility requirements and is sufficiently documented to avoid RFEs and denials. Our system was designed by experienced attorneys. Yet, we offer an affordable online system to prepare your application and guarantee USCIS approval.

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CitizenPath Adjustment of Status Package helps applicants confirm eligibility and optimize Form I-485 processing timeline
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