I-485 Adjustment of Status
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is used to apply for a Green Card in the United States. Green Cards allow immigrants to live and work in the U.S. permanently. Individuals who are inside the U.S. with temporary permission from the U.S. may file Form I-485 to request permission to permanently live in the U.S. With few exceptions, the Green Card process begins when a U.S. citizen or green card holder employer or family member files a petition for their permanent immigration with the USCIS. Once the petition is approved and the applicant receives a visa number, they are eligible to file Form I-485.
After USCIS approves a petition, it sends the petition to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) for assignment of a visa number. Except for U.S. citizens' immediate family members, there may be a wait for a visa number because the U.S. limits the number of visas given to most categories of applicants each year. A citizen's parents, spouse and children immediately receive visa numbers, but for everyone else, NVC assigns USCIS-approved petitions a "priority date," the date of receipt (or sometimes the date a petitioning employer first contacts the U.S. Department of Labor).
How do the parents, spouses and children of U.S. citizens file I-485?
If a U.S. citizen's parent, spouse or child applies to immigrate and the applicant already has permission from USCIS to temporarily live in the U.S., they can file the green card application, Form I-485 along with Form I-130. Filing immigration petitions and applications together is called "concurrent filing," and citizens and their immediate family members can do it because visas are always available for these members of a U.S. citizen's family.
If the family member lives outside the U.S. when the NVC assigns their visa number, then the NVC will send the family member's immigration petition and visa number to their local U.S. consulate or embassy. The local agency will advise your family member to visit the agency to complete consular processing.
How do relatives of U.S. permanent residents (Green Card holders) apply for Green Cards?
If the USCIS named your husband, wife or children in the notice that announced your approval for a Green Card, you may not be required to petition for them. They may be eligible to receive a Green Card after you properly file Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition, with your spouse's local U.S. consulate or embassy. This notifies the consulate that the USCIS admitted you to the U.S. as a permanent resident on an immigrant visa, and your spouse or children mentioned in the notice will "accompany" or "follow to join."
How do other family members apply for Green Cards?
The married children and children older than 21 of U.S. citizens, the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, Green Card holders' spouses and their children of any age or marital status may file Form I-485 after the USCIS approves the citizen or Green Card holder's Form I-130 petition.
If your family member is inside the U.S. with temporary permission from the USCIS at the time that they receive a visa number, they will then file the Form I-485 Green Card application. If your family member is outside of the U.S. at the time that they receive a visa number, the NVC will send your petition and their visa number to the family members' local U.S. consulate or embassy, which will advise the family member to come in to complete consular processing.
How do I get a Green Card through an employer?
Before you apply for an visa, your employer must do two things:
- submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor, and
- file an immigration petition, along with a copy of the LCA and proof of your educational background.
Because it takes time for the Department of Labor to process LCAs, if your employer hasn't previously submitted one, processing time should be taken into account before filing, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
Once you have a visa number, you'll want to identify your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and familiarize yourself with the local visa process. You'll apply for the visa by filing Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application on the Department of State website. IF you have a permanent job offer, you can apply for a green card through consular processing even though you are outside the U.S. If the job is temporary, you can obtain the temporary visa and then if you are offered a permanent job while you're in the U.S., you can file Form I-485 to adjust the temporary status to permanent.
What is a visa number cut-off date?
Once no more visa numbers are available for a given year, a wait list develops. At the top of the list is the priority date of the first person who otherwise qualifies for a visa number but can't get one (the "cut-off" date). As long as there is a cut-off date, the USCIS only gives visa numbers to people who have priority dates earlier than the current cut-off date. Once the annual limit of visa numbers is reached, the cut-off date changes, so the U.S. Department of State announces the current cut-off date in a monthly Visa Bulletin.
How much does Form I-485 cost?
For most people between the ages of 14 and 78, the I-485 costs $1310 with application assistance:
- Application preparation fee: $220
- USCIS fee: $1,140 (or, in the case of an applicant being under 14 years old and filing with at least one parent, $750)
- Biometrics fee: $85
Refugees & Asylees
Refugees and asylees don't need a family member to file Form I-130 petition to make them eligible to apply for a Green Card. However, they must be able to prove their status and that they've held it for at least one year.
Refugees are exempt from the USCIS form fee and biometrics fee.