New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Tips on how to get a successful I-485 adjustment of status

Author: Green Card Lawyer Alena Shautsova

An I-485 form is used to register for, or adjust to permanent residence status. This form is one of the most expensive to file with the government (currently it is $1070). It is important to verify your eligibility for adjustment of status before submitting it to USCIS because once you file, if you are denied you will have to file again, if eligible, and pay the filing fee again. Almost every aspect of US immigration will require an I-485 to be filed with or after granting of the petition you, your employer or your family member is filing for your permanent resident status in US status.

To file I -485 based on family or employment petition, there have to be an immediately available immigrant visa number based on an approved immigrant petition in which case the relevant form (l-130/ I -140 etc. was filed previously and its priority date is current); or I -485 form will be filed with a completed relative petition (I-130), SIJ( special immigrant juvenile petition) , or SIM (special immigrant military petition).

The other common and more complex categories of immigrants eligible for filing an I-485 will be:

  • Spouse or child of an applicant who is also adjusting status based on an immigrant petition;
  • Fiancé of a US citizen;
  • Asylee or Refugee.

And the rarest cases for filing of I 485 form would be due to the nature of the eligibility requirements:

  • Cuban citizenship or nationality;
  • Continuous residence in the US since before January 1, 1972;
  • Applying to change the date on which your permanent residence began (Cuban nationals or spouses/unmarried children of Cuban nationals only);
  • Priority date not current but still valid.

The required documents to be submitted will vary slightly based on the path applicable/ chosen to adjust status.

The Initial evidence when submitting the I-485 should be as follows:

  • Evidence of criminal history I such took place. If you have a criminal history, consult with an attorney prior to submitting anything g to Immigration. Most crimes of moral turpitude will bar you from any US legal status, however there may be exceptions as each case is unique. You can submit a request for your own record by going to the FBI website and checking for a list of approved providers in your area.
  • A Copy of one’s Birth Certificate.
  • A copy of the passport page.
  • A copy of I 94 card or prof of admission or parole into the US. (If the card was stolen, lost or destroyed, an applicant shall file to restore it prior to or together with the adjustment package application).
  • 2 Passport style photos.
  • Medical examination report on form I-693.
  • Biographic information sheet (Form G-325A).
  • Evidence of eligibility (refer back to the top of the post, i.e. copy I-130 or other immigration based petition).
  • Form I-864 affidavit of support from your petitioning family member. Copies of tax returns showing that they meet the minimum requirements for financial support and A copy of their passport (in most cases).
  • And last but not least the check made payable to USCIS for the correct filing fee amount.

Additional evidence that will further increase the likelihood of your successful I-485:

  • Letters of support from friends and family, church or in some cases employers are always a plus when filing your I-485, these should go at the end of the submission.
  • A G-1145 is an optional form to submit with your I-485, it allows the government to email you as well as mail you the status and results of your application in an effort to reduce the physical paperwork and help the environment.

After the I-485 is submitted, you should receive a fingerprint appointment or appointment for biometrics. Some applicants will be required to obtain police clearances if they are a member of a special class in addition to the fingerprints.

Things to watch out for when filing your I-485:

  • You always want to make sure that you do not misrepresent any information when submitting these forms. This includes omission of information as harmless as where you lived even if it is as short as a few weeks or even days, you do not want to be rejected on a technicality and charged with fraud and sent to deportation proceedings.
  • If you have any criminal history or history or you answer YES to any of the questions asked in Part 3 on I-485, you have to consult with an attorney immediately.
  • If you are a male between the ages of 18-26 you are required to register for the selective service. Some people get confused by this and believe they are registering for a “Draft.” This is not true, register for the selective service ( It is punishable by law if you don’t) if “chosen” you will choose to enlist or not to enlist.

The bottom line, is that usually an applicant has already too many worries in his/her life to worry and educate himself or herself on aspects of immigration, and it is a smarter choice to delegate this process to an experienced attorney.

04 December 2013
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