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I-485 Adjustment of Status

A green card enables a permanent resident to live and work in the United States. If you’re seeking a green card through adjustment of status, you should consult with an attorney to determine eligibility.

To qualify for adjustment of status, you must meet the following requirements. The first step is filing Form I-485.

Employment-Based Application

Once a foreign national has an approved immigrant visa petition (usually an I-140 for EB-1 green cards, EB-2s, and EB-3s, but some NIWs), they can apply to become lawful permanent residents in the United States through an adjustment of status. This is a very final step of the immigration process, and it generally requires an interview. The benefit of this is that an immigrant who reaches this point has already met a lot of the requirements for a green card, including work authorization.

A pending I-485 also allows an individual to file for an advance parole document, which can allow them to travel outside the country during the processing of their application without risking abandonment of their case. In addition, a beneficiary of an employment-based case who has a pending I-485 can switch employers six months after the filing of their petition, assuming it is in the same or a similar occupational classification as the original employer.

Family-Based Application

If you are the spouse, child or parent of a United States citizen, or the dependent of an employer-sponsored preference visa category or diversity lottery winner, you may qualify for I-485 adjustment of status. You must also meet other requirements, such as meeting the immigrant visa quota and having physical presence in the United States.

If your immigrant visa is approved, you will attend an interview with USCIS. The agency will notify you of the appointment, and it is best to attend with a qualified immigration attorney.

The USCIS official handling your case will look at the date of your entry into the country to determine whether you misrepresented your intentions. The agency uses the 90-day rule to make this determination, which means you must file within 90 days of your arrival. Otherwise, the agency may believe that you secretly planned to become a permanent resident when you entered the country on a temporary visa.

Asylum or Refugee Application

A person who is already in the United States or seeks admission at a port of entry may apply for asylum or refugee status. Applicants must establish that they suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, or a combination thereof. Examples of particular social groups include members of tribes or ethnic groups, family members of dissidents, members or former members of the military or police, occupational groups, and homosexuals.

If granted asylum, the individual will be permitted to remain in the United States and eventually apply for a green card. He or she will be able to adjust his or her status to that of lawful permanent resident, and will have a path to citizenship after five years.

Petition for Alien Worker

Individuals in H-1B, L-1 or other legal nonimmigrant status who want to apply for permanent residence must file Form I-485. These individuals must have a valid visa or approved EAD to travel abroad and must obtain a visa at a US consulate if they are denied an adjustment of status.

The Form I-485 asks for the applicant’s personal information. Applicants should fill out their current full legal name and include any additional names they have used. Applicants should also provide their date of birth in MM/DD/YYYY format. The Form I-485 Instructions mention that it is possible for a petitioner to submit educational certificates along with the I-485.

Those applying for an employment-based green card will be asked to explain their qualifications for that category. The Form I-485 instructions note that it is important to understand that a green card provides lawful permanent resident status, but does not guarantee employment in the United States. The Form I-485 also asks for details about an individual’s family members, their marital history and other background information.


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