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Immigration Form I-485: What You Need to Know

Form I-485, also known as an Application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status, is a form from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows applicants to change their immigration status to that of a permanent resident of the United States. This is a very important form that plays a pivotal role in an individual’s ability to live and work in the United States and is often a major step in becoming a US citizen. It’s also a form that takes a long time to complete. The USCIS has estimated it will take the average applicant 6.5 hours to complete Form I-485, and that estimate doesn’t include time to conduct background research and gather necessary documentation. Therefore, retaining the services of an immigration attorney from Saland Law is strongly recommended not merely for efficiency, but accuracy.

When is Form I-485 Needed?

Form I-485 is needed by individuals already in the United States who are eligible to become a permanent resident, also known as getting a Green Card. An individual is eligible to obtain a Green Card by completing Form I-485 in the following situations:

  • The applicant has an approved immigrant petition, such as Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

  • The applicant was the fiancé (e) of a US citizen, entered the United States with a K-1 visa and married a US citizen within 90 days of entering the country.

  • The applicant has asylum or refugee status.

  • The applicant is a Cuban citizen or foreign national.

  • The applicant has continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 1972.

Form I-485 can also be used to adjust an individual’s immigration status in certain situations, such as:

  • Having a valid, but not current Priority Date and Preference under the Child Status Protection Act.
  • Having a valid, but not current Western Hemisphere Priority Date.
  • Changing the date on which a Green Card holder’s permanent resident status began.
Description of Form I-485

Form I-485 consists of six pages. The following six Parts make up Form I-485:

  • Part 1: Basic information about the applicant.

  • Part 2: The applicant explains current immigration status that will serve as the basis for becoming a permanent resident and getting a Green Card.

  • Part 3: Information concerning the applicant’s overall immigration, personal and criminal background that may prevent the issuing of a Green Card.

  • Part 4: This request for any potential disabilities or impairments is so that accommodations may be made for the applicant during his or her interview.

  • Part 5: Signature of applicant and interpreter (if applicable) certifying all information is correct and complete.

  • Part 6: Signature of individual who may have helped the applicant complete Form I-485.

There is also Supplement E and C to Form I-485, but those are used in limited situations where a request for an adjustment of status is from an individual who has a T or U visa, or is a Haitian foreign national who wants a Green Card under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act.

When to Hire an Attorney to Help Complete Form I-485

As with all other immigration forms, an applicant may choose to complete Form I-485 without the help of an immigration attorney. However, due to the importance of Form I-485 and the fact that one of its primary objectives is to identify grounds for the applicant’s inadmissibility, there are many potential areas where an otherwise eligible applicant may be denied a Green Card. Simply, proceed on your own if you wish, but do so at your own peril.

Additionally, there may be situations where an individual may not apply for a Green Card and ignore the possibility of completing Form I-485 based on the incorrect belief that a past criminal event or immigration violation bars them from obtaining a Green Card. Only an immigration attorney can help confirm an individual’s eligibility. And should an individual choose to complete Form I-485, the immigration attorney can present the best case for obtaining a Green Card.

While there are many potential parts of Form I-485 where an applicant may benefit by hiring an immigration attorney, Part 3 is probably the section that’s most likely to cause problems for applicants. A few of the questions, such as questions 1.a. and 1.b., are likely to cause much confusion and concern given the potential immigration consequences of an applicant’s criminal history. Because of the complexity of the criminal justice system in the United States and the fact that there are so many variables that can affect immigration eligibility, an immigration attorney is particularly helpful here. And even if a criminal event in the applicant’s past would make them ineligible for a Green Card, it’s very possible a waiver is available and a Green Card is still an option.

Form I-485 Fees

The filing fee for Form I-485 is $1,140 for applicants 14 years of age or older. For applicants 13 years of age or younger, the filing fee is $750, as long as the child’s Form I-485 is included in the same envelope of at least one parent’s Form I-485. There is also a biometric fee of $85 for applicants aged 14 to 78.

The filing and biometric fees may be waived if the applicant completes Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, and shows financial hardship that makes them unable to pay the required fees.

Call to Action/Endnote

When it comes to immigration, associated forms and the promise of a safe and secure life in the United States, you should never be cavalier or nonchalant about the process. Whether it is the paperwork that needs drafting or preparation for an interview, there is no substitute for the advocacy and experience of an immigration attorney. Don’t compromise your future. Contact the immigration lawyers at Saland Law today.

Call the New York immigration lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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