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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 process?

A: 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: How could you help me for my I-485 application?

To help family-sponsored immigrants to adjust their status to U.S. permanent residents, we provide a high quality and case-proven "Complete Do-It-Yourself Package of I-485 Application for Status Adjustment," based on our extensive and practical family-sponsored immigration experience.

In this package, we let you know the required application documents, evidence, procedures, samples of petition cover letter, and samples of required forms for status adjustment to U.S. permanent resident. We also provide detailed explanation of Form I-485 application process, application check list, Work Permit and Travel Document (Advance Parole) application instructions and samples, and how to remove the conditions on permanent residence for an alien spouse. All required application forms and optional forms are included in the package.

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.

Q: I am U.S. citizen. My son is in U.S. and he has married. How could he adjusts his status in U.S. if the Form I-130 is approved for him? In another words, what is the availability of a visa number for him? and what is the process for adjusting status for him?

A: To adjust status in the United States or to get U.S. Green Card, an immigrant visa number must be readily available to the alien immigrant. Each year, a certain number of immigrant visas are available for alien immigrants. The available immigrant visa numbers and their current "priority dates" can be checked at the monthly Visa Bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State.

The Priority Date is the date on which an immigrant visa petition is filed with the USCIS. Therefore, an alien immigrant can apply to adjust status only when his or her priority date is "current". The immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens are exempted from this requirement as they are not subject to the immigrant visa quota system. But other relatives of U.S. Citizens, such as U.S. citizen's married child or U.S. citizen's brother or sister, are subject to the immigrant visa quota system.

By filing USCIS form I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status, an alien immigrant can adjust his or her status to a lawful permanent resident within the United States, if the alien immigrant can meets the requirements and is not subject to any ground of inadmissibility. Also, the alien immigrant needs to submit other mandatory governmental forms, relevant documents, and application fees to USCIS.

Q: My husband entered the U.S. illegally without inspection. Since I am a U.S. citizen and we have married for 2 years, is there any way that he can adjust his status inside the U.S. and receive his Green Card?

A: The U.S. immigration law requires that all aliens must present him/herself to an Immigration Officer for questioning at the time of entry into the United States, and this is called inspection. The admission into the U.S. only occurs after the Immigration Officer found the foreign individual to be admissible.

Generally, the proof of inspection and admission is the Form I-94 which is stamped by the Immigration Officer at the port of entry. A foreign individual not legally admitted and inspected cannot adjust his or her status by using the Form I-485 application inside the United States. The application of this immigration requirement is very strict, and some exceptions may include VAWA applicants, Asylees, and certain special immigrants.

Q: I am a U.S. citizen. I recently married a foreign student with F-1 visa as my wife. Since my current income is not high, I need to have my parents as a co-sponsor for my wife's Green Card application. What is the affidavit income requirement for a co-sponsor? 

A: Generally, the co-sponsor should have an income 125% above the federal poverty lines. Unlike the sponsor, a co-sponsor is not allowed to combine his or her assets to meet the 125% guideline. A co-sponsor should submit with affidavit the following documents to prove their income:

1) The Federal Tax Return for most recent year; 

2) The evidence of current employment; 

3) The evidence that sponsor’s income is sufficient to meet the income requirement.

Q: I am in the process to prepare the I-485 application. I have download the Form I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status, from the USCIS web site. How could I finish the Form I-693 Medical Examination process to get my Green Card?

A: USCIS Form I-693 is also called Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status. It is used for aliens to have medical examination in U.S., in order to receive a U.S. green card or lawful permanent residence, through the procedure known as Adjustment of Status. The Adjustment of Status is a process to complete the entire green card application in the United States with the USCIS, including the possible interview. The Form I-693 must be completed by a USCIS designated doctor inside U.S.

The alien applicant needs to fill the Part I of the Form I-693. The alien applicant only needs to file simple information in Part I, such as name, gender, U.S. address, date of birth, place and country of birth, alien registration number (A number) and the Social Security Number (SSN) if you have one. An alien may have the A number, if he or she has applied for other immigration benefits previously.

There is a place for the alien applicant's signature at the bottom of Part 1. But you should not sign it before you see the USCIS designated doctor, and you should sign it only until the Doctor asks you to to so.

Q: I got my marriage based form I-130 application approval, and sent out Form I-485 application one month ago. Thereafter I changed my residence address in the same city. My question here is that do I have to inform USCIS for my address change? and do you think it will affect my I-485 application? 

A: You need to notify USCIS about the change of your address, by sending the Form AR11 to USCIS, otherwise you may not get USCIS notice for your Form I-485 application decision from USCIS, or get RFE notice from USCIS to ask you to show your current address, when USCIS evaluates your I-485 application. Also, not informing USCIS about your address change is illegal and you may get problem for your I-485 application.

Q: My marriage-based Form I-130 has been approved and my Form I485 application is pending. What I should do if I want to travel overseas, while waiting for the Green Card? 

A: Due to the case processing backlog within the USCIS, it may take some time for your to receive the Green Card after the Form I-485 application for adjustment of status has been submitted. 

During this waiting period, you can apply for an Advance Parole, which allows you to travel overseas and come back to the United States without affecting your Green Card application. The only prerequisite for an Advance Parole is that you have maintained a legal status throughout your stay in the United States. 

Q: I did the medical examination in my home country before getting the visa to enter the United States. Do I need to do the Form I-693 medical examination this time, when I file USCIS Form I-485 for adjustment of status in the United States?

A: Generally, all aliens applying for USCIS Form I-485 for adjustment of status in the United States should file Form I-693 for medical examination. But if an alien applicant has already had a medical examination before as part of an immigration application process within the one year, the alien applicant may not need to do to the medical examination again.

For example, if an alien applicant has already had a medical examination done before as a K visa holder or a V visa holder, the alien may not need to do the Form I-693 for medical examination again. 

Also, if the alien applicant is a refugee, he or she may not need not submit Form I-693 if he or she is applying for adjustment of status one year after the first admission in United States, and there were no medical grounds of inadmissibility during the medical examination in his/her home country.

Q: My I-485 adjustment application is pending. Can I leave the U.S. while waiting for the Green Card?

A: If your Form I-485 application is pending, and if you have a valid and unexpired visa, such as  H, L, O, K or V visa, then you can travel to outside of United States.

If you do have have above visa, or your visa is not valid or expired, before you leave the United States while waiting to be called in for and interview on your adjustment of status application, you should apply for a permit called "Advance Parole," using Form I-131 issued by U.S. Citizenship and  Immigration Services.

If you have not already included the "Advance Parole" form with your Form I-485 adjustment of status packet, you can submit it separately. You can avoid paying a separate fee with this I-131 application by submitting a copy of the Form I-485 receipt notice that you got from USCIS upon submitting your adjustment application.

If you do not submit Form I-131 application before you leave the United States, USCIS may consider your application to have been abandoned,  and will stop processing it. You will then be denied U.S. entry unless you have some other form of visa. 

Q: I am a family-based new immigrant. I will sent out my Form I-1485 application to USCIS very soon. I have a 20 years son who will be included in my Form I-1485 application. I am worry about that he may reach 21 years old before the Form I-1485 approval. Could you please give me some idea about the "aging-out process"?

A: If one of dependent child is about to reach 21 years of age and seeks immigrant status as the dependent beneficiary of either family-based or employment-based immigration, it is the USCIS practice to take such case as the "top priority" case and expedite the process so that the Green Card applications for the entire family are adjudicated before the child reaches 21 years of age.

Consequently, not only the aging out child but also the parents and other siblings receive "expedite" processing and cases are approved in a fairly short period of time. This aging-out expedite process has been available in the USCIS.

Currently, aging-out expedite works well in the family-based proceedings. Such aging-out expedite works at the USCIS local district office one-step I-130/I-485 proceedings. The USCIS district offices approves I-485 applications for the entire family members in the event that a child will reach 21 years of age in a few months.

Q: After the Form I-130 approval by using your DIY package, I need to file Form I-485 application to get my Green Card. Please let me know how to find a medical doctor for the I-485 medical examination? 

A: When an alien immigrant applys for Green Card by using Form I-485 for adjustment of status, the alien applicant should have a medical examination. The medical examination can be done by a medical doctor who is authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The authorized medical doctors are called also civil surgeons.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched an improved online application, called "Find a Doctor" (https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor), to assist applicants for U.S. permanent residence (Green Card) find doctors authorized to provide the medical examination required for Form I-485 applications for adjustment of status. The website also provides useful information regarding the medical examination process in the immigration context.

Many I-485 applicants need to undergo a medical exam performed by a USCIS authorized civil surgeon. Upon completion of the exam, the medical doctor will complete the report of medical examination and vaccination record (Form I-693), places it in a sealed envelope, and provides it to the alien applicant. This sealed envelope must accompany the Form I-485. The USCIS also now issues Requests For Evidence (RFEs) on long-pending I-485s to ask for updated medical examinations.

The "Find a Doctor" web tool provides the names and contact information for authorized civil surgeons in the area based on the address or zip code provided by the individual. It also lists what documents applicants should bring to their respective appointments and briefly explains the medical tests conducted during the exams.

Q: In the U.S Department of State's Visa Bulletin, there are newly added "Dates for Filing Applications". How to use the dates listed to file USCIS Form I-485 inside United States, for employment-based Green Card applicants' Adjustment of Status?

A: The procedures regarding immigrant visa availability have changed by U.S. Department of State, for the benefit of intending U.S. permanent resident (i.e., greencard) applicants. These changes are reflected in the Visa Bulletin which may be viewed at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html

The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS’s) monthly Visa Bulletin will now include two charts per visa preference category for Family-based and Employment-based applicants as "Application Final Action Dates", and "Dates for Filing Applications." In Sections 4.B. (Family-Sponsored Preference Cases) and 5.B. (Employment-Based Preference Cases), “Dates for Filing Applications” are listed.

The chart for "Dates for Filing Applications" reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who cannot submit documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa. If a category is designated “current,” all applicants in the relevant category may file applications, regardless of priority date

For many employment-based Green Card applicants' Adjustment of Status using USCIS Form I-485 inside United States, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will use the “Dates for Filing Applications” chart (in lieu of the “Application Final Action Dates” chart in paragraphs 4.A. and 5.A.) to determine when an application for adjustment of status (USCIS Form I-485) may be filed.  Adjustment applicants may also visit "www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo" for more information.

The statement in Visa Bulletin is consistent with USCIS’s announcement that each month it will “monitor the visa numbers and post the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin chart” on its website under “When to File”.  An intending greencard applicant can then use this information to determine when to file an adjustment application (Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status).  The “Dates for Filing Applications” chart may be used only when USCIS determines that additional immigrant visa numbers are available.  Otherwise, per USCIS guidance, the “Application Final Action Dates” chart must be used by intending Adjustment of Status applicants.

Q: I recently received my Green Card, and I am planning to travel outside of United States for more than one year due to my work and family reason. How to keep my Green Card in the United States? and I can come back later without any problem to enter United States?

A: A Green Card holder (U.S. lawful permanent or conditional resident) can travel outside the U.S. and return, with some limitations. A reentry permit can help prevent two types of problems: 1) your Green Card becomes technically invalid for reentry into U.S., if you are absent from U.S. for one year or more;  2) your Green Card status may be considered as abandoned for absences shorter than one year, if you take up residence in another country.
A reentry permit establishes that a Green Card holder did not intend to abandon U.S. permanent residence status, and it allows you to apply for admission to U.S. after traveling abroad for up to 2 years without having to obtain a returning resident visa. If you are a Green Card holder planning to travel outside of U.S. for one year or more, it is important that you apply for a reentry permit

A reentry permit is used when a U.S. Green Card holder wishes to leave the United States for a period of between 1 year and 2 years, but does not want to be viewed as having abandoned the U.S. residence or Green Card. The USCIS Form I-131 is used to apply for a Reentry Permit.
As a Green Card holder, you must be in United States when applying for a reentry permit, and must attend the USCIS biometrics appointment before leaving United States. But you can request to pick up the reentry permit approval at a U.S. embassy in your home country, or you can ask that it be sent to an overseas address. The reentry permit itself looks similar to a passport, and will contain your photo. It will normally expire after 2 years.

Q: I need to prepare the immigration medical exam for my I-485 status adjustment. What conditions would make an alien applicant inadmissible on medical grounds? and does it includes physical or mental abnormalities?

A: Many U.S. green card applicants need to have an immigration medical examination, and pay an exam fee to get immigration medical examination results. The immigration medical examination must be done when applying for an U.S. immigrant visa from overseas, or applying to adjust status inside the U.S. The purpose of the medical exam is to determine if an alien applicant has any health conditions that need attention prior to immigrating.

The following conditions would make an alien applicant inadmissible on medical reasons: 1) Alien applicants who are found to have a communicable disease of public health significance, including, chancroid; gonorrhea; granuloma inguinale; HIV/AIDS; infectious leprosy; lymphogranuloma venereum; infectious state syphilis; and infectious tuberculosis. 2) Immigrant visa and adjustment of applicants who have not received all of the required vaccinations. 3) Alien applicants who have current physical or mental disorders, with harmful behavior associated with that disorder, or past physical or mental disorders, with associated harmful behavior that is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior. 4) Alien applicants who are found to be drug abusers or drug addicts

There are other medical conditions, which can be categorized as Class B, and include physical or mental abnormalities, diseases, or serious/permanent disabilities. The waivers can be granted for Class B medical conditions. While it is natural to worry about the outcome of the exam, an alien applicant should be prepared to helping you relax.

There are a few exceptions, such as refugees and fiances adjusting status who are usually for situations where the person already had a medical exam overseas, as a condition of coming to the United States, and therefore does not need to repeat the exam for the next application. But the person might need to provide evidence of up-to-date vaccinations.

Q: My Form I-485 application is pending. I called the USCIS Customer Service Help Line for my case progress, and was told that it is in the process of "background security check". What kind of checks will be included in this background security check?

A: To ensure that immigration benefits are given only to eligible applicants, USCIS adopted background security check procedures that address a wide range of possible risk factors. Different kinds of applications undergo different levels of scrutiny. USCIS normally uses the following three background check mechanisms but maintains the authority to conduct other background investigations as necessary:

1) The Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) Name Check— IBIS is a multi-agency effort with a central system that combines information from multiple agencies, databases and system interfaces to compile data relating to national security risks, public safety issues and other law enforcement concerns.

2) FBI Fingerprint Check—FBI fingerprint checks are conducted for many applications. The FBI fingerprint check provides information relating to criminal background within the United States. Generally, the FBI forwards responses to USCIS within 24-48 hours. If there is a record match, the FBI forwards an electronic copy of the criminal history (RAP sheet) to USCIS.

3) FBI Name Checks—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.

Q: To file Form I-130 for relative outside U.S., what kind of fees can be expected?

A: Immigration application related fees are charged for different services, such as fees for Department of State government services, fees for Visa Services, and fees for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, this fee is charged by USCIS;
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260;
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations - costs vary.
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and travel expenses to go to the embassy or consulate for the interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
Also, Form I-864 is required for most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants to show that they have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to rely on the U.S. government for financial support. There is no fee when filed with USCIS or abroad with the Department of State (DOS). DOS does charge a fee when this form is filed in the U.S. 

Q: For USCIS Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, what are the differences between sponsor, joint sponsor, and substitute sponsor?

A: An affidavit of support is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. The person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative coming to live in U.S.  The sponsor is usually the petitioner of an immigrant petition for a family member. An affidavit of support is legally enforceable; the sponsor's responsibility usually lasts until the family member or other individual either becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 quarters of work - usually 10 years.

A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting the family member with you. A joint sponsor must meet all the same requirements as you, except the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor, or the joint sponsor and his or her household, must reach the 125% income requirement alone. You cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.

If the visa petitioner has died after approval of the visa petition but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decides to let the petition continue, a substitute sponsor must file a Form I-864 in place of the deceased visa petitioner.

Some other eligibility requirements apply to the substitute sponsor as well. He or she must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of at least 18 years of age who has a domicile in the U.S. And the sponsor must be a relative of yours. In order to be a substitute sponsor, you must be related to the intending immigrant in one of the following ways: Spouse; Parent; Mother-in-law; Father-in-law; Sibling; Child (if at least 18 years of age); Son; Daughter; Son-in-law; Daughter-in-law; Sister-in-law; Brother-in-law; Grandparent; Grandchild; Legal guardian of the beneficiary.

Serving as a substitute sponsor is a primarily financial relationship, and it involves filling out an Affidavit of Support on USCIS Form I-864. The Affidavit must indicate that the new sponsor is able to support the immigrants and his/her own household, at a level that is at or above 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines. In fact, by filing Form I-864, the substitute sponsor promises the U.S. government to pay back any need-based public assistance that the named immigrants receive for approximately the first ten years of their having a green card.

Q: Do I Have to Go Through an Interview Process for Form I-485 Adjusting Status?

A: If you have applied for a Green Card within U.S. through the procedure known as "adjustment of status" using USCIS Form I-485,  it is likely to be called in for an interview by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), as the last step in your immigration application process.

With proper preparation, you should not fear the adjustment of status interview, and it does not mean that your application for adjustment of status has been singled out for extra scrutiny. An immigration interview is a normal part of the process, allowing USCIS to confirm the information you have provided, and review all the facts with you present.

USCIS may skip the interview in some cases, or requires only the immigrant to attend, not the family petitioner or sponsor, if the petition case is especially clear, and not likely to involve fraud or other complicated circumstances.

If you applied to Form I-485 adjusting status, based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, it is certainly that  you and  your U.S. spouse will be called in for an immigrant interview. The interview is to ensure that the marriage is genuine, and not merely entered into for the purpose of obtaining a Green Card.

Q: As a U.S. citizen's wife, how to prepare documents to prove our marriage is real, for an USCIS interview?

A: To obtain a U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card) based on marriage, you will have to prove that the marriage is real or "bona fide". This means a marriage in which the two people intend, from the start, to establish a life together as husband and wife. An important step to prove the marriage is real or "bona fide" is joining your lives together.

You should not wait until the last minute to look for ways that you can prove that you are really married, or that you live together, or that you trust each other enough to share financial and other personal matters.

Also, you should take steps to prepare for a future together. For example, a U.S. citizen in a sham marriage might not remember to add his or her new spouse as a beneficiary to a company sponsored life insurance policy, while someone in a real marriage would or at least should. Thus, Some important steps to prove the marriage is real or "bona fide" might include:

• make your spouse a beneficiary on your retirement account or other accounts that require or allow a payout to a beneficiary upon the holder’s death;

• make sure that both spouses are covered under your health insurance policy, if the other spouse doesn't have his or her own insurance;

• if you live together, add your spouse to your house deed, mortgage, or apartment lease;

• if you live together, add your spouse’s name to your garbage, utility, cable, and other bills;

• take out a joint credit card;

• open a joint bank account;
• file joint tax returns;

• join a gym or club together;

• buy a car or other major asset together.

Q: When I arrived U.S. las month, I did not complete the paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94. Do I really need the form as an admission process record?

A: Foreign visitors to the U.S. arriving via air or sea no longer need to complete paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record or Form I-94W Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record. Those who need to prove their legal visitor status to employers, schools/universities or government agencies can access their CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) arrival/departure record information online at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.

CBP now gathers travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry.

If travelers need the information from their Form I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other admission information they are encouraged to get their I-94 Number.

Upon arrival, a CBP officer stamps the travel document of each arriving non-immigrant traveler with the admission date, the class of admission, and the date that the traveler is admitted until. If a traveler would like a paper Form I-94, one can be requested during the inspection process. All requests will be accommodated in a secondary setting.

Upon exiting the U.S., travelers previously issued a paper Form I-94 should surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. Otherwise, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP.

An I-94 form is needed by all persons except U.S. Citizens, returning resident aliens, aliens with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens visiting or in transit. Air and Sea travelers will be issued I-94s during the admission process at the port of entry. A traveler lawfully admitted (or paroled) into the U.S. may print their lawful record of admission (I-94 form) from this CBP website. If someone requests your admission information, this is the form you would provide.






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