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Frequently Asked Questions of I-485 Adjustment of Status

What is Form I-485 for?

Form I-485 is the application for adjusting immigration status. Foreign nationals who are in the U.S. with certain types of temporary visas, and wish to change to a different visa classification, can file an application of I-485 for change of nonimmigrant status.

When should I-485 be filed?

All I-485 applications are filed when I-140 is concurrently-filed, pending, or approved. Note that the foreign national must file I-485 prior to the expiration of Form I-94.

What is the filing fee of I-485?

The filing fee of I-485 is $985. You need to add $85 biometric fee for a total of $1070, where applicable. You must make your check payable to Department of Homeland Security. There are exceptions in which the applicant is not required to pay the entire $1070:

  1. Applicants 79 years of age or older are not charged a biometric fee; the fee total is $985.
  2. There is no fee for applicants who are filing Form I-485 based on having been admitted to the United States as a refugee.
  3. There is no fee if an applicant is filing as a refugee under section 209(a) of the INA.
  4. For applicants under 14 years of age:
    A: Filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent have a fee total of $635.
    B: Not filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent have a fee total of $985.

What documents are requirement to be accompanied I-485?

The application must be accompanied by

  1. Two photographs of the adjustment applicant.
  2. Aliens fourteen years of age or older must include a biographical information form, Form G-325A.
  3. Each application must also be supported by evidence that the alien will not become a public charge. For employment-based immigration cases, the applicant can show sufficient means of support through such evidence as a current letter of employment from the employer-sponsor stating that the job offer remains open and stating the current rate of pay. Other evidence, such as tax returns, W-2s, and non-binding affidavits of support from family members on Form I134, can also be submitted.
  4. An adjustment applicant must also submit results of a medical examination on Form I-693. The exam must be administered by an approved “civil surgeon.“ The examination consists of TB testing, a serology test, and a review of vaccination records. At the completion of the medical examination, the doctor will put the results of the exam in a sealed envelope and give it to the alien. The envelope must remain sealed in order for the results to be accepted.

What documents should be submitted concerning employment? How long is it valid?

Adjustment applicants must submit the I-864 affidavit of support within six months of its signature by the sponsor. If the form is submitted within that six-month time frame, it will remain valid indefinitely. Updated supporting documentation may be required, however, if more than twelve months pass between the time the affidavit was completed and the adjustment interview.

What vaccination proof must be submitted at the time of medical examination?

During the required medical examination, the alien must present proof of vaccination against the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox), hemophilic influenza type B, rotavirus, meningococcal, and pneumococcal vaccines. If the applicant's records show that he or she has not received a complete series of each vaccine and there is no other evidence of immunity, the civil surgeon will administer a single dose of each missing vaccine at the time of the medical examination and certify the alien's eligibility for a “not medically appropriate“ waiver if the dose administered during the examination does not complete the vaccine series.

How long is my medical examination result be valid?

The USCIS has extended the validity of medical examination results submitted on Form I-693 until the adjustment application is adjudicated.

What will I need to do after filing I-485?

Legislation enacted in 1997 requires that all fingerprints for adjustment purposes be conducted by the USCIS or by a designated state or local law enforcement agency (LEA).

Where is fingerprinting done? And what should I bring when I have my fingerprint done?

Actual fingerprinting in most cases is conducted at fingerprinting centers known as Application Support Centers (ASCs). The applicant should bring the appointment notice and a valid piece of identification (alien registration receipt card or alternate photo identification, for example, a state-issued driver's license) to the scheduled appointment. After fingerprinting is conducted, the USCIS will submit the fingerprint card to the FBI for a background check. An affirmative response must be received from the FBI before an adjustment application can be adjudicated.

How long does it take for the FBI clearance to be issued to the USCIS after my fingerprint is taken?

Once fingerprints are taken, it generally takes thirty days for the FBI clearances to appear in the USCIS's system.

For how long is the clearance valid?

Once a fingerprint and clearance are in the system, the clearances are valid for fifteen months from that date. Applicants will need to be re-fingerprinted once the clearances have expired.

Can I file Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Advance Parole (AP) simultaneously with I-485?

If the applicant requires employment authorization or advance parole, those applications can be filed with the service center simultaneously as part of the adjustment of status application package. An application for employment authorization is filed on USCIS Form I-765 and an advance parole application is filed on USCIS Form I-131. You may file these forms together. If you choose to file the I-765 and/or I-131 separately after July 30, 2007, you must also submit a copy of your I-797C, Notice of Action, receipt as evidence of the filing of an I-485.

Is additional fee apply if I file EAD and /or AP simultaneously with I-485?

If you file Form I-485 to adjust your status as a permanent resident, no additional fee is required to also file an application for employment authorization on Form I-765 and/or advance parole on Form I-131.

What is the processing procedure for I-485?

Initial processing of the application takes place at a USCIS Lockbox Facility or a service center. After the application has been filed, the applicant will next hear from the USCIS when a fingerprinting notice is sent. The applicant will either be scheduled for a fingerprinting at a local application support center (ASC) or be told to schedule an interview with the local ASC. The fingerprints will be submitted to the FBI for fingerprint checks through law enforcement databases. The applicant may also hear from the USCIS if documents in the file are missing or unclear (for example, if the documents establishing the relationship are not clear). In this case, a request for further evidence (RFE) will be issued. RFEs must be answered within twelve weeks of the request. RFEs will not be issued for medical exam results; such results may be submitted at the time of the adjustment interview.

What checks are conducted by the USCIS concerning an I-485 application?

USCIS conducts several checks in determination of I-485 application:

  1. A filed petition is checked against a USCIS fraudulent petition index in which a record is kept of prior petitions filed in which some element of fraud was involved.
  2. Background (name) checks are conducted against a multi-agency database containing lookout information on persons who have a history of past immigration problems or may pose security threats.
  3. Concurrently filed petitions may also be checked against files already in existence for the petitioner and/or beneficiary to determine whether the information in the petition is consistent with previous statements made by either party in papers already on file.
  4. The USCIS may also conduct a check of the authenticity of supporting documents against DOS descriptions contained in that agency's Foreign Affairs Manual. If there are any doubts regarding these documents, the USCIS may request the original documents.
  5. With regard to applications for ancillary benefits, the USCIS will conduct prima facie review of all I-140s concurrently filed with I-485s prior to adjudication 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 Adjustment of Status?

Interviews can be waived for I-485 adjustments of status. The USCIS will make a decision as to whether to waive the interview requirement. Applicants of cases involving employment-based petitions in which the applicant has already been filling the position on a nonimmigrant visa usually don't need interviews. If the interview requirement is waived, the service center will conduct final processing. If an interview is required, the file will be forwarded to the local office, which will conduct the interview and issue a decision on the application. Once forwarded to a local office, status inquiries and requests for ancillary benefits should be addressed to that office.

What should I bring to an interview?

Once the papers have been filed and the fingerprinting has been completed, applicants for whom an interview is required will receive in the mail a notice of the interview appointment. This notice will give the time and place of the interview and tell the applicant to bring certain documents to the interview.

If an interview is scheduled, the applicant should be prepared to bring the following to the interview:

  1. Results of the required medical examination on Form I-693 (if such results were not submitted with the original adjustment application);
  2. His or her passport;
  3. His or her Form I-94;
  4. All original documents;
  5. An up-to-date letter of employment from the alien's employer, documenting continued employment at a specified salary; and
  6. All documents pertaining to the petition in cases in which the petition was filed together with the adjustment application.
  7. The appointment notice

How is an interview performed? What questions are usually asked in an interview?

After putting the applicant under oath, the USCIS examiner will review the biographical information on For I-485 for accuracy and will correct any mistakes.

Here are some questions a USCIS examiner may ask:

  1. He or she will ask the alien the questions that appear on the form, regarding the bases for inadmissibility.
  2. He or she may ask the applicant about the basis for permanent residence, particularly about the offer of employment if the case is a job-offer type of case.
  3. If the alien has not been employed but has been in the United States for a prolonged period, the examiner is sure to look closely at the alien's means of support to make certain that he or she has not engaged in unauthorized employment.

What if my application does not get approved at the interview?

If the application cannot be approved at the interview because the alien must provide additional information or because the proper clearances have not yet been received, the alien must await the resolution of these issues before the approval notice will be sent to the alien.

When will I received an approval notice? Can I travel abroad or start to work after I receive an approval notice?

The foreign national will be sent an approval notice, Form I-797, once the DOS has assigned the visa number. The USCIS will also process the applicant for issuance of a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551. The approval notice, Form I-797, is not adequate evidence of the alien's permanent residence for purposes of traveling outside the United States and being readmitted as a resident, or for purposes of demonstrating employment authorization. The alien must return to the USCIS office after receiving the approval notice to receive temporary evidence of permanent residence. Temporary evidence is usually in the form of a stamp in the new resident's passport. With this stamp, the alien may travel abroad and be readmitted to the United States and may also document employment authorization.

What if my spouse and children are still in my home country? Will their visas be approved?

Yes. If you have adjusted status, your spouse or unmarried children under 21 will obtain immigrant visas at a U.S. consulate in your home country. This procedure is called “following to join“ the principal alien. You must request that the U.S. consulate where visa processing will take place be notified that your status has been adjusted to permanent residence.

What if my child ages over 21 during the period of adjusting status?

It is okay. New law provides for continued classification of certain aliens as children in cases where the aliens “age out“ while awaiting immigration processing.

Can I change employers when my I-485 is pending? Will it influence the validity of my I-140 approval?

The new law provides that individuals who have filed for adjustment of status and whose cases have been pending for more than 180 days may now change jobs or employers, without affecting the validity of the underlying I-140 or labor certification, as long as the new job is in the same or a similar occupational classification.

What if I want to go back to my own country when my I-485 is pending? Can I adjust my status at my home country after filing I-485?

Yes. If you decide that you would now prefer to visa process abroad after the adjustment application is filed, you will need to take further steps in order to have your case processed abroad. Specifically, you must file Form I-824 with the USCIS office that approved the initial petition to request that the consulate be notified of the petition approval.

What if my application gets denied? Can I appeal the USCIS's decision?

When a decision is made to deny an application for adjustment of status, the applicant must be provided with a written decision setting forth the reasons for the denial. If your nonimmigrant visa is still valid, you may continue to stay in the U.S. based on the unexpired nonimmigrant visa. Otherwise, you may face deportation after the denial of I-485 application. No appeal can be taken from the denial of an application by the USCIS. However, you may present a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider to the USCIS office based upon an argument of law or upon supplementary factual information that was not available at the time that the decision was made and that has a bearing on the reasons for the denial.