How To Fill Out Form I-485 Adjustment Of Status Part 1
Looking to adjust your status inside the United States? Great! In this post we will go over how to fill out form I-485 step-by-step. This tutorial will show you exactly how to complete the form correctly without an immigration attorney.
When I was adjusting my status after arriving on a nonimmigrant K1 visa, I remember it being a long process with a lot of documents and evidence required. I know it can be very intimidating to fill out immigration documents but you really can do it yourself as long as you can follow instructions.
Serena arrived in the U.S. on a student visa and fell in love with her college sweetheart Joe. Joe is a U.S. citizen and decided to marry Serena after they graduate from school. After the wedding they being looking into the immigration process for her to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
After checking the USCIS.gov website, they were a little overwhelmed but couldn’t afford an attorney. They decide to complete the forms by themselves by reviewing the instructions available online.
This type of situation is very common. The vast majority of people who adjust their status do so themselves. Not only to save money but also because they have the time to gather all the documents and evidence that will be needed.
I always say that it’s best to complete your own immigration paperwork. Why? Because you know what information is being submitted. I’ve seen a good number of people get denied because their attorney made a mistake on their forms and they didn’t review them before it was sent to USCIS.
Who Is Eligible To Adjust Status In The US?
There are several categories that are eligible to adjust status inside the United States. We will only be discussing the family-based category to keep this simple but the application process is very similar for employment and other categories.
Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
- Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you can absolutely apply to adjust status and obtain a green card. Things get a little more confusing if you entered the country illegally in which case you should seek the help of a qualified immigration attorney.
For those of you who have straight-forward applications, you will need to prove that you are legally married and that your spouse is a U.S. citizen.
If you are the child or parent of a U.S. citizen, you are also considered an immediate relative and eligible to adjust status in the U.S. to become a permanent resident. You must prove you are either biologically related (birth certificates) or were legally adopted.
Other Relative of a U.S. Citizen/LPR
- Family member of a U.S. citizen:
- Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you are 21 years old or older
- Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
- Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
- Family member of a lawful permanent resident:
- Spouse of a lawful permanent resident
- Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident
- Unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older
All other relatives of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residents are also eligible to get a green card through adjustment of status. The process can take much longer when compared to immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen.
This is where the “preference categories” come into play. I’ve written a post about sponsoring relatives of permanent residents and how to the preference system works.
Fiance of a U.S. Citizen
- K1 visa holder (fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen)
- K2 visa holder (child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen)
Anyone who enters the U.S. on a K1 visa and marries their U.S. petitioner will be eligible to adjust status. The K2 child will also be able to adjust status as long as the K1 visa holder is eligible.
If you are the fiance of a U.S. citizen, you are required to marry within 90 days of entering the U.S.. Don’t panic if you don’t get married in this time frame so long as you get married. I’ve seen couples get married 6 months after entering on the K1 visa and were successfully able to adjust status.
Be sure to tell the truth as to why there was a delay in the wedding if you are asked at the green card interview.
Widow of a U.S. Citizen
- Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married at the time your spouse died.
This is a little known family-based adjustment of status category. If your U.S. citizen spouse dies before you are able to get a green card it doesn’t necessarily mean you no long qualify.
You can still adjust status as long as you can prove you were married at the time they passed and were a U.S. citizen. You can use their birth certificate, passport or naturalization certificate as proof.
Abused Spouse, Child or Parent of a U.S. Citizen
- Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Abused parent of a U.S. citizen
If you are the victim of physical, mental or emotional abuse that you can document, you can file for VAWA and adjust status once this has been approved.
Learn more about VAWA and form I-360 to self-petition for a green card.
VAWA can be difficult to get approved and you need to include a lot of evidence of the abuse to be approved. Be sure to check out the step-by-step guide I wrote on how to file for VAWA.
How To Fill Out Form I-485 Adjustment of Status
Alright, now we get down to business. We will go over form I-485 step-by-step so you know exactly how to answer each question. This form is about 18 pages long so I’ve broken this tutorial into 3 separate posts to make it easier to review.
Part 1: Information About You
Question 1a – 1c: Enter your current full legal name. If you recently got married, enter the name that you now go by if you took your spouse’s last name.
Question 2a – 2c: Type your previous legal names that you went by. If you have a maiden name, enter it here. If you have legally changed your name with the courts you must enter your previous legal names that you held as well.
Question 5: Enter your date of birth.
Question 6: Select your gender.
Question 7: Enter the city or town where you were born.
Part 1: Information About You (continued)Question 8: Enter the country of your birth.
Question 9: Enter your country of citizenship. It’s not always the same as your country of birth. If you have multiple citizenship, enter the country where you are a citizen and applied for a U.S. visa from.
Question 10: Type your Alien Registration Number (A-number). This is the number that is used to identify your immigration file. You can find it on most communication you receive from USCIS.
Question 11: The USCIS online account number is something you would have if you registered on uscis.gov. This site allows you to make payment online for certain immigration forms. If you don’t know what this is or haven’t signed up online, leave this blank.
Question 12: Enter your social security number. If you don’t have one yet, you can leave this blank.
Question 13a – 13e: Enter your current mailing address in the United States. You can’t use a PO Box here so make sure it’s an actual physical address. This address will be used to send you correspondence from USCIS.
Question 14a – 14e: When it says “safe address” it means an address that you would like USCIS to mail notices or the green card to. If you don’t trust that you will receive letters to your current physical address for whatever reason.
Question 15: Find your passport number and type it here.
Question 16: If you arrived with a travel document, enter the number here.
Question 17: Enter the expiration date on your passport or travel document.
Question 18: Type the country that issued the passport or travel document to you. This is normally your country of citizenship as well.
Question 19: Enter the nonimmigrant visa number from your passport if you entered on this type visa.
Question 20a – 21: Type the city and state of where you entered the U.S. last as well as the date of your last entry.
Question 22a – 22d: These questions want to know how you entered the country. If you entered on a valid visa, check the 22a box if you were admitted legally at a port of entry. If you were inspected and paroled into the country on a specific category, check box 22b. If you entered the U.S. illegally without being inspected at the port of entry, check box 22c. If you entered the U.S. some of other way, check box 22d and provide an explanation.
Question 23a: If you entered the country on some type of visa, you should have from I-94 either stamped or stapled to your passport. Enter the I-94 number here.
Question 23b: Most nonimmigrant visas have an expiration date. Enter the date on the I-94 in your passport. This is the date that you are allowed to stay in the U.S. and after this date, you must depart the U.S. to avoid unlawful presence time.
Question 23c: Enter the status on the I-94. This is usually the same as the type of visa you entered the country in.
How To Fill Out Form I-485 Part 2 Coming Soon
Okay, so we’ve learned about the adjustment of status process, who is eligible and how to fill out the first two pages. I’ve broken down this tutorial into 3 separate parts because this form is so long and would be too much to have in one post.
After we complete the form, we’ll discuss where to mail the petition to and how much it will cost to apply for it.
Stay tuned folks!
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.