What is the I-485 petition?
I-485 is one of the forms required to apply for permanent residency in the USA. With this form, you register permanent residency status, that is, obtain a “Green Card”.
The I-485 petition has 20 pages and asks for general immigrant information, employment history, immigration history, immigrant category, address in the US, criminal record, and information about spouses and kids.
The point of the I-485 petition is:
- to provide the government with information about yourself;
- to prove your eligibility for permanent residency, for example, to show that you don't have criminal acts and violations.
You can complete the I-485 form yourself or with the help of a lawyer to avoid possible mistakes. On the USCIS website, you can find the actual edition of the I-485 petition.
The I-485 is used for the adjustment of immigration status. If you have a US temporary residence permit, you will need to complete the I-485 petition to adjust it to permanent residence.
Temporary residence permits are issued on the basis of family reunification, marriage, employment, studies or investment in local companies.
On what grounds can you complete the I-485 petition?
To complete an I-485 form, you must come to the United States: it is impossible to file this petition from abroad.
To be eligible for a Green Card, you must enter the US on an immigration visa, such as an IR visa for relatives or an EB-2 visa for professional workers. Holders of such visas are allowed to submit an I-485 petition and get a Green Card.
Immigration visas are issued for:
- Family reunification. If the applicant's relative has permanent residency or citizenship status in the US, such applicant may qualify for IR or F visa and move to the United States.
- Marriage. If a foreigner is going to marry a US citizen, they obtain a K-1 visa to enter the country, which is considered a nonimmigrant visa. So the new spouse must change the K-1 visa to a CR-1 after the marriage is registered and only then file the I-485 form.
- Skilled work. If a foreigner wants to work in the US and has enough qualifications, they can get a visa of E category and relocate to the country.
- Business investments. Investors contributing significantly to local US companies get EB-5 visas to the USA.
If you came to the United States on a non-immigrant visa like a B-1/B-2 tourist visa, H‑1B work visa or J-1/J-2 student visa, you cannot file the I-485 petition.
Documents required to apply for I‑485
The applicant must attach several supporting documents to the I-485 form:
- Two recent passport photos 2x2 inches. They should contain a picture of you on a white background, printed on thin paper with a glossy finish. On the US Department of State website, you can find all the requirements and examples of correct photos.
- Valid passport or any other government-issued ID, for example, driver’s licence or military identification document.
- Birth Certificate. Refugees and asylum seekers don't need to provide it.
- Documents proving your Immigrant Category: your immigrant petition or a photocopy of form I-797 for your immigrant petition.
- Form I-864 to prove financial means. You must show that you can support yourself in the United States financially.
- Form I-693, a report of medical examination and vaccination record. In fact, you are not required to submit form I-693 along with I-485, but it will help to avoid delays in the application process.
- Certified police and court records for any criminal charges, arrests, or convictions you may have. You don't need to report traffic fines if the penalty was only a fine of less than $500 or points on your driver’s licence.
- Evidence that you came to the US legally. Suitable evidence can be a copy of a passport page with an admission or parole stamp issued by a US immigration officer, a page with a non-immigrant visa, or form I-94 Arrival‑Departure Record.
Suppose you cannot provide evidence of legal entry, and DHS has no record of the admission or parole. In that case, USCIS will presume that you came into the US illegally and may reject or not accept your application.
If you don't have specific required documents, USCIS usually allows you to give alternative evidence instead. For example, you can provide church or school records, hospital or medical records, or personal affidavits instead of a birth certificate.
How to include family members in a Green Card application
The applicant's spouse and unmarried children under 21 can also get US permanent residence. To do so, they need to complete the I-485 form either along with the applicant or after their application approval.
Each relative fills out a separate application form. The exception is children under 14 — their applications are filled out and signed by their parents. Children over 14 years old file a form on their own.
There are also some additional documents family members need to provide along with the I-485 form:
- a copy of the marriage certificate and other proof of relationship;
- documents proving the immigrant category.
There are two ways to prove the immigrant category. The first is to provide the form I‑797, approval or receipt notice for the main applicant’s immigrant petition. The second way is to submit a copy of the main applicant’s form I-551, a Green Card.
If the applicant or their spouse was previously married, they must also submit evidence to prove the legal termination of any prior marriages, for example, a divorce certificate.
How to apply for a Green Card using an I-485 petition?
Green Card applicants need to file not only the I-485 petition but also an immigration petition like I-130 for relatives or I-140 for foreign workers.
The applicant firstly files an immigration petition and then completes form I-485 to get permanent resident status.
Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to apply for a Green Card:
Immigration visa allows the applicant to relocate to the US for a longer time and get a Green Card.
Sometimes it’s filled by you, and sometimes you need specific people to fill it. For example, if you move to the US on a work visa, your employer might need to file an I‑140 petition with USCIS.
To submit I-485, you must be present in the United States and have a home address. Make sure you have all the documents required to complete I-485.
On the USCIS website, you may find the appropriate address.
After filing Form I-485, you will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. Your fingerprints, photo, and signature will be taken for background checks.
Depending on the immigrant category, you might need to attend an interview at a USCIS office. The interview is required to verify the information provided in your application.
When your Green Card application is ready, USCIS will announce their decision. If approved, you will receive your Green Card by mail, granting you lawful permanent residency in the United States.
How much does it cost to apply for the I-485 petition?
There are two fees one needs to pay: filing fee and biometric services fee.
The filing fee is:
- $1,140 for applicants of 14 and older;
- $750 for children under 14 who complete the application together with at least one parent.
Biometric services fee is:
- $85 for applicants between 14 and 79 years old;
- $0 for applicants under 14 or over 79 years old.
Even if the fee is $0, applicants should still appear for their scheduled biometrics collection appointment.
What is the processing time of an I‑485 petition?
The petition is processed for 8 to 30 months. Processing time highly depends on the immigrant category and the state where they submit it. For example, employment-based applications in New York City are processed for 21 months.
You can find your application's approximate processing time on the USCIS website processing times page.
How to avoid delays in processing the I-485 form:
- submit form I-693 along with I-485. It is a report of immigration medical examination and vaccination records;
- file all required evidence and supporting documentation;
- use the current edition for form I-485.
How to get Green Card in the USA by investment
One of the ways to get permanent residency in the USA is through investment. One can contribute to local business independently or with the help of Regional Centers and get Green Cards for the whole family.
The minimum investment amount is $800,000 acting through the Regional Centres and $1,050,000 acting as an independent investor. Another requirement is to create 10 jobs for skilled workers from the US.
Immigration agent supports the applicant throughout the entire process: from selecting a project for investment to obtaining a Green Card.
Key takeaways on the I-485 petition
- I-485 is one of the forms required to apply for permanent residency in the USA. With this form, you register permanent residency status, or as it is called, a "Green Card".
- To complete an I-485 petition, you must reside in the United States since it is simply impossible to do this from abroad.
- To be eligible for a Green Card, an applicant's visa should be an immigration visa, such as a family reunification IR visa or investor EB-5 visa.
- The applicant's spouse and unmarried children under 21 can also get permanent residence. Each relative fills out a separate application form.
- Applicants must pay the filing fee and the biometric fee.
- The petition is processed for 8 to 30 months. Processing time highly depends on the immigrant category and the state where they submit it.
Frequently asked questions
I-485 is used to register permanent residency status in the USA. To submit this form, applicants should get an immigration visa and relocate to the USA since it requires the applicant to be present in the country.
I-130 is an immigration petition — applicants complete it before entering the US to designate immigrant status in the family reunification category. Moreover, I-130 should be completed by an applicant’s relative in the US.
I-485 is an adjustment status petition — applicants complete it after they get to the US to change their residency status from temporary to permanent.
Once I-485 is approved, USCIS will send a Green Card to your home address in the USA. So the timing depends only on the delivery service.
Green Card is a document that allows you to stay in the USA for a long time. It also grants all the rights and duties as citizens of the country, except the right to vote in elections.
I-485 is a petition to get a Green Card. It is your official request to the U.S. government by which you show your intention to get a Green Card, as well as proof that you are eligible for such a procedure. Be aware that apart from the I-485 form, you need some other documents to qualify for a Green Card.