I-485: Adjustment of Status
(aka Green Card application)

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What is the I-485?

Key Takeaways from This Page:

1) The I-485 is the adjustment of status from a non-immigrant visa to an immigrant visa aka Green Card.

2) You must be within the U.S. to file the I-485 -- otherwise you must go through immigrant visa processing.

3) There are several statutory requirements aside from the I-140 that you must meet in order to qualify. 
The I-485 is the application to file for an "adjustment of status" from a non-immigrant visa status to an immigrant status. In plain language, this is basically the application one would use to apply for a Green Card if they are currently lawfully in the U.S. Applying for the I-485 is the final step in the Green Card Application Process via the employment-based immigration route. In addition, there are many other benefits to filing the I-485 while it is pending and before a Green Card is received. In particular, filing for the I-485 enables the beneficiary to also apply for 1) an Advance Parole (Travel Document), 2) an EAD (Work Permit), and 3) if timely filed, provides continuing lawful precense while the application is pending if the individual's non-immigrant visa status expires.

Why Wouldn't I Just Skip The I-140 If It Is
The I-485 That Gets Me A Green Card? 

Why would you file the I-140 EB-1A, EB-1B or EB-2 NIW if it is the I-485 application that ultimately provides you with a Green Card? Well the answer quite simply is that you can't file I-485 without either have previously filed or concurrently file with an I-140, or you have another basis such as an I-130, Asylum/Refugee, etc. Indeed, your I-485 cannot even be approved until after your underlying I-140 has been approved that provides the basis for the I-485. In short, the I-485 can be thought of as the way to switch your status from non-immigrant to immigrant within the U.S., in order to avoid leaving the U.S. and undergoing immigrant visa processing (DS-260).

What Are The Requirements For Filing The I-485 Application

The following are the basic criteria that must be met in order to qualify to file the I-485 based on an I-140:

1. The beneficiary must be physically within the terroritial bounds of the United States. If you are outside the US, you cannot file the I-485 and instead must go through immigrant visa processing.

2. The beneficiary must have come to the U.S. legally. Typically this would be have arrived in the U.S. on a valid non-immigrant visa stamp.

3. An underlying I-140 must be pending or approved. You must have an I-140 (whether EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-2/NIW, etc) at least pending in order to file the I-485.

4. The Priority Date Must Be Current. An adjustment of status application can only be filed if the beneficiary’s priority date is current.

5. No change in circumstances. One of the most common situations that constitute a change in circumstances that might disqualify someone would be someone who is no longer engaged in the same or similar field.

What Are The Most Common Reasons For Disqualification?

​Even if you meet the general standard for an adjustment of status and a Green Card in general, there are still several statutory bars that might ultimately prevent someone from obtaining a green card. Some of the most common ones encountered are:

1. Unauthorized Employment, Unlawful Status, or Failure to Maintain Status.

2. J visas subject to 212(e). Some non-immigrant status holders of J-1 or J-2 are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement and will be barred from adjustment if they have not completed their two-year foreign residence requirement or if they have not been granted a waiver.

3. Public charge. Beneficiaries must be able to prove that they have sufficient financial means and will not become a public charge.

4. Officer Discretion: Ultimately, it is always up to the discretion of the USCIS officer handling your case to adjust your status even if you technically meet all the requirements.
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