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Frequently Asked Questions of I-485
Application and Other Related Issues for Adjustment of Statue
Q: What is the Adjustment of Status?
A: Adjustment of Status (AOS) refers to the procedure that allows foreign nationals already in the U.S., who are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and for whom immigrant visa number is immediately available, to apply for immigrant status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Adjustment of status within the U.S. is available for immediate relatives of spouses or parents of U.S. citizens provided the alien entered with a visa, even though the alien’s authorized stay has expired. It is also available to alien applicants who have obtained a labor certification indicating that there are no qualified or available Americans who are capable of performing the services the applicant does, and provided the alien applicant is in authorized status.
Adjustment of Status is the final stage of Green Card application. After the completion of this process, the applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. A applicant can opt either for I-485 application or Consular Processing (CP).
1) File form I-485: In this case, the applicant can file for adjustment of status using form I-485 and for family members while in US.
2) Consular Processing: In this case, applicant can apply for adjustment of status at the U.S. Consular office in their home country.
Adjustment of Status is a procedure allowing certain foreign nationals already in the U.S. to apply for immigrant status. Foreign nationals admitted to the U.S. in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to a U.S. lawful permanent resident, if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa which is immediately available.
Q: What is the purpose of the I-485 application to adjust status to U.S. permanent residence?
A: The I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence is a way to process the final stage of the permanent residence process for a foreign national who is already present in the U.S. and wishes to change from his or her current immigration status to that of U.S. permanent resident. In almost all cases, the foreign national must have been maintaining valid immigration status to be eligible.
An filed I-485 application allows a qualifying person to submit applications for employment authorization and travel permission, along with proof of financial support. The process involves filing the petitions and applications with supporting documents, getting fingerprinted, attending an interview, and answering any requests for additional evidence issued by USCIS.
Q: What are the general requirements of Adjustment of Status?
A: Adjustment of status refers to the procedure for becoming a lawful U.S. permanent resident without having to leave the United States. It should be distinguished from the traditional method of gaining permanent residence, which involves applying for an immigrant visa at a consular post abroad.
1) the alien makes an application for such adjustment;
2) the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence, and
3) an immigrant visa is immediately available to him at the time his application is filed.
Q: I am already in the United States as a spouse of United States citizen, can I file I-485?
A: Application to Permanent Residence is submitted by an individual wishing to obtain permanent resident status. It is generally filed with supporting evidence and may be filed in conjunction with several other applications or petitions. You may be eligible to apply for adjustment to permanent resident status if you are already in the United States and if one or more of the following categories apply to you.
You are the spouse, parent, unmarried child under age 21, the unmarried son or daughter over age 21, the married son or daughter, or the brother or sister of a United States citizen and have a visa petition approved in your behalf.
You are the spouse or unmarried son or daughter of any age of a lawful permanent resident and you have a family-based visa petition approved in your behalf.
Q. As a U.S. Citizens' Spouses who entered the U.S. on K-1 fiancee visa, can I apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence?
A: You may apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence if you were a fiancee who was admitted to the U.S. on a K-1 visa and then married the U.S. citizen who applied for the K-1 visa for you. Your unmarried, minor children are also eligible for adjustment of status.
If you did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the K-1 fiancee petition on your behalf, or if you married another U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to adjust status in the U.S.
If you married the U.S. citizen but not within the 90-day time limit, your spouse must now file USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
Q: What is the visa number requirements for Adjustment of Status?
A: You may apply for Adjustment of Status after your immigrant visa I-130 petition is approved by the USCIS, and an immigrant visa number is readily available to you. The visa numbers are limited by law for certain permanent residents. This means that even if the USCIS approves your I-130 immigrant visa petition, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately.
In certain cases, long time could pass between the time USCIS approves your I-130 immigrant visa petition and the Department of State gives you an immigrant visa number for I-485 approval.
Q: What is the exempt from the visa number requirement for immediate relatives of United States citizens?
A: You must have an immigrant visa number available from the State Department unless you are in a category that is exempt from visa numerical limitations. Immediate relatives of United States citizens are exempt from this requirement. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21.
Other immigrant categories that are exempt from visa numerical limitations and do not need a visa number include special immigrant, juvenile, and special immigrant military petitions.
For family members of lawful permanent residents, visa numbers are limited by law every year. This means that even if the USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately. In some cases, several years could pass between the time USCIS approves your immigrant visa petition and the State Department gives you an immigrant visa.
Q: As a K-3 visa holders, do I need immigrant visa number to apply for I-485?
A: In order to apply for an adjustment of status, an immigrant visa must be immediately available to the alien when his or her adjustment application is filed. This is not a problem in the case of a K-1 or K-3 Visa holders, because an unlimited number of “green cards” (permanent residence cards) can be issued to immigrants who are immediate relatives, i.e. spouses. An adjustment of status application should be filed with the USCIS district director in the district of the applicant's residence.
Q: I have heard that there are only a limited number of Green Cards, is this true?
A: Not for the fiancé/ fiancée or spouse of a US citizen. For immigrants arriving to the US there is a set number of how many “Green Cards” will be given to people of a particular nationality.
However, this is not a problem in the case of a Thai fiancé/ fiancée or spouse of a US Citizen because an unlimited number can be issued to spouses of US Citizens. An adjustment of status application should be filed with the USCIS in the district of the applicant's residence.
Q: What is the requirement of Grounds of Admissible for I-485 application?
A: The I-485 applicant should be "admissible", i.e. he or she is not subject to the grounds of inadmissibility. Generally, foreigners in the U.S. without having been inspected or paroled are regarded inadmissible. The ineligibility to filing I-485 application include:
1) An alien entered the country in illegal way or in transit without a visa;
2) The alien is employed in the U.S. without USCIS approval. But this rule is not applicable for a person if he or she is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen;
3) The alien can not adjust status if the alien is now or before has been out of status, or if the alien has ever broke the rules and terms of a non-immigrant visa, which requires that the I-485 applicant has never violated his or her status in any way).
Q: What are eligibility to I-485 adjustment of status for family-based immigration?
A: An alien applicant should either have approved family based I-130 immigrant petition or filing it concurrently at any possible time. The family-based petition categories include parent, child, marital, fiancé, and other immediate relatives of either U.S. citizens or Green Card holders.
Q: What are the exceptions to the I-485 application requirement of maintaining lawful status in U.S.?
A: The following individuals are not required to maintain lawful status in order to adjust their status to U.S. permanent resident within the U.S.:
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens;
Foreign medical graduates;
Special immigrant children;
Former employees of international organizations and family members;
Immigrants who have served honorably in the U.S. military.
Q: What are the benefits of filing I-485 application for Adjustment of Status
A: The benefits of Adjustment of Status includes:
1) You can maintain valid status in the U.S. while your I-485 Adjustment of Immigration Status application is being processed;
2) You and your spouse are permitted to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as work permit, and take employment while your Adjustment of Status application is pending;
3) You can file Adjustment of Status application concurrently with immediate relative green card petitions, and employment-based first, second and third preference categories.
Q: What are the Adjustment of Status Process with USCIS vs. with U.S. Consulate Processing
A: Consular processing and adjustment of status are two means to the same end - obtaining permanent resident status in the United States. If you opt for consular processing, you would apply for an immigrant visa through the Department of State and must attend an interview at a U.S. Consulate in your country of residence abroad.
If you opt for adjustment of status, on the other hand, you would remain in the United States and file an I-485 application with USCIS. Because these two separate agencies each have their own procedures and set of governing rules, there are pros and cons to both options. You should therefore take various considerations into account before making what is often a difficult decision.
Q: Where to file I-485 application?
A: The I-485 adjustment applications are normally submitted to the USCIS Service Center. Application is generally submitted by mail, and approved either by mail or after an interview at one of the USCIS district offices. If all the procedures go well, the applicant can accomplish the permanent resident status (“Green Card”) in the U.S. by stamping the immigrant visa in his/her passport.
Q: When can I file the the I-485 application to adjust status to Permanent Residence?
A: If at all possible and advisable, the application will be filed after the I-130 approval, or simultaneously with the I-130. However, there are times when the I-485 cannot be filed along with the I-130, often an immigrant visa is not yet available, or your "priority date" is not current.
Q: What do you mean the immediate availability of a visa?
A: This I-485 application requirement can be satisfied in one of two ways. The first instance relates to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, who always have an immediately available visa. The second instance refers to those individuals who qualify for one of the employment-based or family-based visa preferences and have a current “priority date.”
Q: What is the Priority Date?
A: The priority date is the date the first paperwork for permanent residence is filed with a government agency. For a family-sponsored case, this will be the date the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is filed, which may or may not be the same date as the I-485 is filed.
Q: Why is the Priority Date important?
A: The Priority Date establishes the foreign national's place on line for an immigrant visa. There are limited numbers of immigrant visas available for each of the various categories. These categories are called "Preference Classes." Each preference class has its own queue for immigrant visas, and the priority date and the preference class of the petition determine how long the person being petitioned for has to wait for a Green Card.
Q: What are the eligibility categories to file Form I-485 application?
A: You can file form I-485 under one of the following categories:
Form I-485 is based on an underlying Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker;
Spouse, parent, unmarried son/daughter under age 21 of a U.S. citizen with an approved or concurrently filed Form I-130;
Beneficiary of an approved Form I-130 filed by a qualifying relative, qualifying derivative, family-based beneficiary;
K-1 Fiancé(e) (and K-2 dependents) whose Form I-485 is based on an approved Form I-129F, and applicants who are beneficiaries of an approved Form I-360, as a battered spouse or child;
Diversity lottery winner eligible to file Form I-485.
Q: What are exceptions for the I-485 application fees?
A: There is a filing fee for the I-485 application plus a biometrics fee. The exceptions for the application fees are listed below:
There is no fee for applicants who are filing Form I-485 based on having been admitted to the United States as a refugee;
Applicants of 80 years of age or older are not charged a biometric fee;
Applicants under 14 years of age: filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent have a fee with discount.
Q: What is the medical examination process?
A: All I-485 applicants must pass a medical examination conducted by a civil surgeon approved by the USCIS. You can find the USCIS approved civil surgeon in your area in USCIS web site, or You can contact USCIS' National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to find an approved civil surgeon in your area.
The civil surgeon will record the results of the examination on the Form I-693 and seal it an envelope which should be submitted to USCIS along with I-485 application. You are responsible for paying all doctor and laboratory fees for the exam. You must carry your passport or other form of photo identification, and bring your medical and vaccination history. If a condition is diagnosed which makes you inadmissible, you may still be eligible for immigration after completing treatment for the condition.
Q: What is the fingerprinting processA: When applying for I-485, you will be fingerprinted so the FBI can check criminal records. The USCIS accepts fingerprint cards prepared only by authorized sites such as Application Support Centers (ASCs), and U.S. Consular offices and military installations abroad.
Once you file for I-485, the USCIS will send you a letter with an appointment for fingerprinting at the nearest ASC location. You must have the letter with you when you go in for fingerprinting. There is a fee charge per person.
Q: Could I get a Work Permit after I-485 application?
A: Applicants for adjustment to permanent resident status are eligible to apply for a work permit while their cases are pending. You should use USCIS Form I-765 to apply for a work permit (Employment Authorization Document, or EAD)
You do not need to apply for a work permit after you adjust to permanent resident status. As a lawful permanent resident, you should receive a permanent resident card that will prove that you have a right to live and work in the United States permanently.
Q: When can I file the Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?
A: Application for EAD can be filed concurrently with I-485 or any time after that, as long as I-485 application is pending. Your eligible family member like spouse can also apply for an EAD.
An approved EAD allows you or your spouse to work. The primary applicant may take a part-time job or start a business, as long as continue working for the employer who filed for the Green Card. Depends on the USCIS Service Center, the EAD may take few weeks to few months to get approval.
Q: Can my fiancé/ fiancée or spouse leave the US and re-enter while the adjustment of status is pending?
A: For the K-3 spouse: YES. For the K-1 fiance/fiancee who gets married in the US: NO.
The K-3 Visa is a multiple re-entry visa, and if the spouse should leave the US while the Adjustment of Status application is pending, then it will not be viewed as an abandonment of the Adjustment of Status petition.
However, this is not the case for the Thai K-1 visa holder. Under 8 CFR §245.2(a)(4)(ii), an Adjustment of Status petition will be deemed abandoned if the fiancé/ fiancée departs the United States while waiting for approval of the application.
The K-1 visa holder can obtain Advance Parole before departing the US to ensure that the Adjustment of Status application will not be considered abandoned.
Q: What is the Advance Parole?
A: The Advance Parole or Travel Document is used to apply for admission to the United States upon return from abroad without having to obtain a visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You must fill Form I-131 for Advance Parole. There is a non-refundable filling fee to be paid by check or money order.
The Advance Parole is usually issued for the time when the I-485 application is pending, and it is valid for multiple entries. Once your Advance Parole (Travel Document) application is approved, you will receive 2 copies of form I-512. You must carry all 2 copies when you travel out of the U.S. for the first time. One copy will be taken by the the USCIS officer at the port of entry. The second copy is for you, and should be used during all subsequent trips.
Q: How to obtain Advance Parole?
A: An alien must file Form I-131 - Application for Travel Document. The Advance Parole is permission to reenter the United States after traveling abroad. Advance Parole is an extraordinary measure used sparingly to allow an otherwise inadmissible individual to enter the United States due to compelling circumstances. By law, certain individuals must apply for a travel document and have Advance Parole approved before leaving the United States.
Attempts to reenter the United States without prior authorization may have severe consequences, since individuals requiring Advance Parole may be unable to return to the United States, and their pending I-485 applications may be denied or administratively closed. Applicants planning travel abroad should plan ahead since applicants can anticipate processing times of about 90 days, depending on the USCIS Service Center.
Q: What is the Refugee Travel Document?
A: Individuals who have been admitted in U.S. as refugees or granted asylum, including those who are applying for I-485 adjustment of status, do not need to obtain Advance Parole.
Instead, these individuals should apply for a Refugee Travel Document using Form I-131 and comply with applicable application requirements, such as biometric processing, prior to leaving the United States. Asylum applicants, asylees and lawful permanent residents who obtained such status based on their asylum status are subject to special rules with regard to traveling outside the United States.
Q: Can I travel outside the United States after I-485 application?
A: If you are applying for I-485 adjustment to permanent resident status, you must receive advance permission to return to the United States if you are traveling outside the United States without valid H or L visa or status. This advance permission is called Advance Parole.
If you do not obtain Advance Parole before you leave the country and you are not in H or L visa or status, you will abandon your I-485 application with USCIS, and you may not be permitted to return to the United States.
Q: What are the 3 years and 10 years inadmissible requirements?
A: Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, aliens who depart the United States after being unlawfully present in the United States for certain periods can be barred from admission to lawful permanent resident status, even if they have obtained Advance Parole.
Aliens who have been unlawfully present in the United States for more than 180 days, but less than one year, are inadmissible for 3 years; those who have been unlawfully present for one year or more are inadmissible for 10 years. Aliens who are unlawfully present, then depart the United States and subsequently reenter under a grant of parole, may still be ineligible to adjust their status.
Q: What about my family members' I-485 applications?
A: This is the stage where your immediate family members are formally a part of the process, in that separate I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident are filed for each family member. The same forms and documents filed for the main applicant are also filed for these family members, except the employment authorization applications. But you cannot obtain permanent residence for children over the age of 21 based upon your application.
Q: Are my dependents eligible for I-485 application? and what kind of documents are required?
A: Each family member who desires a U.S. permanent residence must file a separate I-485 application.
The I-485 adjustment process involves the investigation of an individual's identity, health, criminal background, and the ability of financial support in the United States. The employment-based adjustment applications for family members must also be filed at a USCIS Service Center.
Q: What personal documents will my family and I need to have for the I-485 application?
A: You and family members must have birth certificates (each birth certificate must indicate full name, the full names of each parent, date of birth, and place of birth), marriage certificates and other relevant documents before the I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence can be filed. You may also wish to obtain records of all vaccinations received to provide to a USCIS approved physician when the required medical exam is performed.
Q: What are the requirements for immigration photographs?
A: The USCIS will accept standard passport photographs where the alien applicant is facing the camera. All photos must be identical. You can read the regulations at the USCIS website, or visit the Department of State's guidelines for photographs website to find out how you can take photos to meet the requirements.
Q: What happens when my I-485 is approved?
A: Normally, the Approval Notice/Welcome Notice will come to the alien applicant. You can take this notice to a local USCIS District Office and get a Permanent Residence stamp in your passport, which can be used to prove eligibility for all benefits to which US permanent residence entitles you, such as unrestricted employment or travel.
This stamp is temporary, normally one year in duration, but the status does not expire even if the stamp does. The foreign national will receive the actual permanent residence card (Green Card) in the mail, normally in one to six months from the date of the approval. The exact length of time it takes to get the card is often erratic.
Q: What is the temporary Green Card stamp?
A: If your interview is waived or if it is completed, and you meet all I-485 application requirements, you will receive an I-485 approval letter from the USCIS. You must go to the local USCIS service center with your passport and all I-94 and EAD cards. A temporary Green Card stamp (I-551) will be placed on your passport. This is an interim Green Card in case you need to travel out of the US. Within a few months, your Green Card will arrive in the mail, But it is not green in color, and looks more like a driver's license or a credit card.
Q: Can I appeal the I-485 decision if it is denied?
A: If your I-485 application to adjust status to permanent residence is denied, you will receive a letter that will tell you why the application was denied. An applicant can not appeal the USCIS decision of employment-based I-485 application.
The only applications for permanent residency of Form I-485 which can be appealed to USCIS are those based on a marriage which took place while the alien's application was in process, or those based on Section 586 of Public Law 106-429, adjustment of status for certain nationals of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. These appeals must be made to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU).
Q: How long is the approved I-485 valid?
A: The I-485 Permanent Residence status is valid indefinitely, as long as permanent residence is not abandoned through absence of six months or longer from the U.S.
Q: For the card of "Single-Document Work Permit and Advance Parole", how is this card different from the previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?
A: The card looks similar to the previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD), but it will include text that reads, "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole". A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and Advance Parole document. Employers may accept this card as a List A document when completing the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9.
Q: Why did USCIS combine these benefits in one card of "Single-Document Work Permit and Advance Parole"?
A: With the new card, adjustment of status applicants no longer will have to carry both an EAD and a separate paper Advance Parole document while awaiting adjudication of their Form I-485 applications. Instead, applicants only will have to carry this one credit card-sized card. The card is more secure and more durable than the paper Advance Parole document.
Q: How do I receive the EAD and Advance Parole card?
A: You may receive this card when you file an Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765, and an Application for Travel Document, Form I-131, concurrently with or after filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. You must file the Forms I-765 and I-131 at the same time in order to receive an EAD and Advance Parole card. Please ensure that you enter your name and address identically on Forms I-765 and I-131 that you file concurrently in order to receive the new card.
Q: If I receive this card, does that guarantee my re-entry into the United States if I travel?
A: No. This card authorizes parole, not admission, to the U.S. Parole is not an admission or "entry". If you obtain this card, you may use it to travel abroad and return to the U.S. Upon arriving at a port-of-entry, you should present the card to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to request parole. Issuance of an Advance Parole document does not guarantee that CBP will parole you into the U.S. If parole is granted, you will be permitted to come into the U.S. as a parolee, but will not have been 'admitted". Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. and subsequently depart and seek re-entry through a grant of parole may be inadmissible and ineligible to adjust their status.
Q: How much does this card cost? and How long is this card valid?
A: 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, you only need to pay the I-485 application fee. You may file these forms together. Please see http://www.uscis.gov/fees for the I-485 application fee.
Based on the availability of an immigrant visa, USCIS will issue this card for a period of one or two years. USCIS may also in its discretion issue the card for a longer or shorter validity period, depending on the particulars of the case.
Q: Will USCIS still issue separate EAD and Advance Parole documents?
A: Yes. USCIS will continue to issue separate EAD and Advance Parole documents as warranted. For example, you will receive an EAD without permission to travel if you do not request Advance Parole or if your Form I-765 is approved but your Form I-131 is denied.
Q: If I lose or damage this card, how do I get another one?
A: To obtain a replacement card, you must file the Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765, and Application for Travel Document, Form I-131, concurrently, with the appropriate fee for the I-765 AND the fee for the I-131.
Although individuals obtain their first card at no cost, they are required to pay the current application fee(s) for any card that USCIS replaces due to loss, negligence or damage. Visit http://www.uscis.gov/fees for more information.
Q: I applied for U.S. Green Card for my husband, the Form I-130 has been approved. We were told that the I-485 application is in the process of background checks by FBI, after their fingerprinting. What is the background check process, and how long it may take?
A: All applicants for a U.S. immigration benefit are subject to criminal and national security background checks to ensure they are eligible for that benefit. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Federal agency that oversees immigration benefits, performs checks on every applicant, regardless of ethnicity, national origin or religion. FBI name checks are also required for many applications. The FBI name check is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks.
In about 80 percent of the cases, no match is found. Of the remaining 20 percent, most are resolved within six months. Less than one percent of cases subject to an FBI name check remain pending longer than six months. Some of these cases involve complex, highly sensitive information and cannot be resolved quickly. Even after FBI has provided an initial response to USCIS concerning a match, the name check is not complete until full information is obtained and eligibility issues arising from it are resolved.
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