Form I-485 Processing Times Explained

Posted by Frank Gogol
Updated on June 15, 2022

At a Glance: The entire Form I-485 process typically takes 8 to 14 months from the time of filing but there are key steps along the way that you should be aware of.

Adjusting status to a lawful permanent resident of the United States is a big step! The Form I-485 processing time is long, and the wait can be difficult. You’re probably anxious to know what happens after filing Form I-485 and how long it will take to receive your green card. 

To help you through the process, we outline the Form I-485 processing time and what you should expect below.

Form I-485 Processing Time Explained

The process to get a green card is infamously long and laborious. Especially if you’ve filed a Form I-130 for your relative with it. 

Many steps take place after you file your Form I-485. Each of these steps has a processing time associated with them that causes a delay. Understanding the Form I-485 process and why it takes so long could make the wait for your green card a little easier. 

Let’s take a look at each step of the process that happens after you file your green card application.

What Happens After Filing Form I-485?

Let’s take a closer look at the different steps that so often cause a long ​​Form I-485 processing time:

Your Application is Received

What is the first thing you can expect to happen if you properly filed Form I-485? The first communication you will receive from USCIS will be a confirmation of receipt of the application. Formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action, the receipt notice typically arrives 2 to 3 weeks after filing.

Your receipt of the application is an important document. It contains your 10-digit receipt number. You can use this receipt number to check your case status.

If you have not received your Notice of Action within the first month of filing, you should make a case inquiry. 

Alternatively, if you did not properly file your Form I-485, USCIS will do one of two things: 

  • They will either send you a Notice of Action to reject your application, or
  • The USCIS may send a Request for Evidence that requests additional items. 

Either of these will significantly delay your request.

Your Biometrics Appointment is Scheduled

Next, you will receive an appointment notice that assigns your biometrics appointment date, time, and location. The appointment notice for your biometrics appointment should arrive approximately 3 to 5 weeks after filing.

Your biometrics appointment is a normal part of the background checks all applicants undergo. USCIS requires applicants to be fingerprinted to conduct a security clearance and criminal background check.

It is best to show up to your biometrics appointment on your scheduled date and time. But it is possible to reschedule a USCIS biometrics appointment if necessary. The location for your biometrics appointment will generally be the USCIS Application Support Center nearest you.

You Attend Your Biometrics Appointment

On the scheduled date and time, you need to attend your biometrics appointment. This generally happens about 5 to 8 weeks after filing.

The biometrics appointment is generally short – it should take around 30 minutes. This is not an interview. The appointment’s purpose is to collect your biometrics information only.

To get to the biometrics appointment, you will need to show some form of government-issued photo identification. Remember to take your passport, driver’s license, military photo identification, or state-issued photo identification card with you to your appointment.

You Receive Your EAD Card

If you also submitted Form I-765 and Form I-131 as a part of your adjustment of the status package, you will be receiving an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Your EAD card should arrive 12 to 16 weeks after filing.

Your EAD card acts as a work permit.  If you applied for both employment authorization and advance parole travel documents, both documents are usually combined on a single combo card.

It is useful to have a copy of your EAD card. Make a photocopy of both sides of the card and store it in a safe place.

You Receive Your Notice of Interview

Approximately 4 to 10 months after filing you will receive a notice to attend an adjustment of status interview. The interview notice will arrive by mail as another Form I-797, Notice of Action.

Interviews are a normal part of the process. Your type of case will influence the decision to have an interview, but filing a well-prepared adjustment package with all necessary documentation helps your chances.

The adjustment of status interview will be scheduled at a USCIS facility near you, and it probably will last less than 30 minutes.

You Attend Your Adjustment of Status Interview

Your adjustment of status interview will occur anywhere between 6 and 12 months after filing your Form I-485. 

Your interview notice will give you a complete list of items you should take to the interview.  If anything is out-of-date (such as a new address or employer), take the updated information with you to the interview. 

You should have the following on hand:

  • A complete copy of your immigrant petition and adjustment of status application. 
  • Originals of any documents that you submitted to USCIS, such as birth and marriage certificates.
  • Your EAD card.
  • Your passport, which contains the nonimmigrant visa by which you entered the U.S.

You Receive Permanent Residence

The Form I-485 processing time ends when you receive your permanent residence. This usually takes 8 to 14 months after filing.

If your application is approved, USCIS will mail your green card to you shortly after your adjustment of status interview. Once you have your green card, you no longer need the EAD card. As a permanent resident, you have the right to travel outside the United States and return with a valid green card. You may also use the card as proof of your right to work in the United States. 

Once your adjustment of status application is approved, you may ask the USCIS office to place an “I-551” stamp on your passport. This is temporary proof that you are a permanent resident and is valid for re-entry at a U.S. port of entry.

If you did not receive your green card in the mail, you can make a case inquiry.

Form I-485 Processing Time FAQ

Can I stay in the US while my I-485 is being processed?

You have the right to remain in the United States while your application is pending.

You have two options while your I-485 is being processed. Firstly, you can meet the obligations of your current visa until the USCIS approves your permanent residency. If the USCIS denies your I-485 application, you can usually return to your non-immigrant status.

The other option is to act as if you have permanent residence during the Form I-485 processing time. However, if USCIS denies the I-485 application, you could be forced to leave the United States immediately.

Can I work if I-485 is pending?

To work in the U.S. you need a work permit. If you are currently in the U.S. on a work visa, you can continue to work while your I-485 is being processed. If you do not have a valid work permit, you need to wait until your EAD card is issued to you in the I-485 application process. 

What are the chances of  I-485 denial?

Some statistics suggest that as many as 11% of Form I-485 applications are rejected. A poorly prepared application can also delay the approval process and even create significant immigration problems.

What happens if I-485 is denied?

If your I-485 is denied, you have a few options:

  • File a motion to reconsider/reopen – if you have new information that could change the outcome of the case, you can reopen your green card application.
  • Appeal to AAO – an appeal will take your case from your case officer and ask a different officer to reconsider your application.
  • Refile form I-485 – if you have some other legal status that allows you to stay in the U.S. despite the denial, you can refile and start the process all over to build a stronger case from the beginning.
  • Ask an Immigration Judge to reconsider your I-485 – you can choose to present your case to an immigration judge. When all evidence has been presented, the judge will make his decision and, if all goes well, may decide to approve your application and allow you to get a green card. If your case is weak, you put yourself in danger of deportation.

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Conclusion

The long Form I-485 processing time is something every green card holder has experienced. Each step in the process takes time. Prepare for a long process, understand the details of each step and be patient while you wait for your green card. It will be worth the wait in the end.

>> Read More: Green Card Processing Times


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