i-485 processing times

I-485 Processing Times 2019: How Long It Takes For Approval

Getting a green card just got tougher thanks to President Trump. Yes, I said it. Since he was elected as president, he’s vowed to cut the number of green cards available in half. Not only will I-485 processing times increase, but there will also be preference for skilled workers over family members.

In this post, we’ll look at the I-485 processing times and when you can expect your green card to be approved.

Adjustment of status is a way to legally get a green card without leaving the United States. But, here’s the catch. You must have entered the country legally and have valid status when submitting the I-485.

If you entered the country without inspection (illegally) or overstayed a visa, you will likely be forced to leave the U.S. for the interview phase.

This is where a 3 or 10 year bar is trigger if you accumulated unlawful presence time.

There is a waiver available for those of you who can prove extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen spouse called the I-601A waiver.

Immigration law gets really complicated at this point and you should definitely contact an experience immigration attorney to review your case.

Case Example:

Mario entered the country illegally in 2010 when he was a teenager. He met and married his high school sweetheart in 2017 and they applied to adjust his status so he could get a green card.

Because Mario entered the US without inspection and was undocumented, he will need to submit the I-601A waiver for the unlawful presence time that he has accrued. To back up his claim for lawful permanent residence, he’ll need to show extreme hardship to his new wife if he were to be denied the green card.

This is a common problem faced by many people who cross the border illegally and go on to marry a U.S. citizen. You’d think they would be eligible for a green card now that they have an American spouse, but it’s not that simple.

If you have no proof of entering the U.S. legally, you’ll need to file the I-601 or I-601A waiver. If you were ever deported you’ll also need to file the I-212 permission to reenter. It starts to get really complicated so be sure to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before submitting the I-485 application.

I-485 Processing Times and Timeline

Below is a time for the I-485 processing times based on marriage. Generally, I’ve seen simple cases take about 4-5 months and this was the case for my own situation.

Adjustment of status on K1 visa

  • I-485 Filed: 11/29/2016
  • I-485 Approved: 4/10/2017

Total time for approval: 4 months, 12 days.

Adjustment of Status through marriage:

  • Date I-130 and I-485 Filed: 11/8/2016
  • Date I-130 and I-485 Approved: 3/23/2017

Total time for approval: 4 months, 15 days.

I-485 Processing Times For Each Service Center

Many people who are looking to get a green card through family-based options won’t be able to adjust status inside the U.S.. This is due to the requirement that you entered the country legally and have legal status right now.

If you’re fortunate enough to have done everything right with immigration, consider yourself lucky. You get to wait inside the U.S. with your family member instead of being forced to complete the interview abroad.

Below are some stats from USCIS showing the number of I-485 applications they receive and how they’ve processed them.

I485 processing times

USCIS posts monthly I-485 processing times on their website. Sometimes the dates are not accurate but it does give you an idea of how long you’ll be waiting for approval.

From what I’ve read, the I-485 processing times can vary a lot. In my own situation when I applied for adjustment of status, it took about 5 months to complete.

But this may not be the case for your own case. It truly depends on your immigration history, how you entered the country, and the evidence of bona fide marriage you can provide.

Case Example:

Juliana submitted her I-485 after she married her U.S. citizen spouse in Texas. She initially entered the country on a F1 student visa which hasn’t expired yet. But she dropped out of school 6 months ago and is concerned that this will cause a problem for her.

USCIS receives her application to adjust status as well as the I-765 EAD and I-131 Advanced Parole. After 6 months, Juliana is called for an interview with her husband. The interview goes well and the immigration officer did ask about her F1 visa. She answered truthfully and was approved for a green card.

Can You Expedite I-485 Processing Times?

I’ve previously talked about how to expedite your visa application and the process is similar with the green card application.

The main thing that will determine if your expedite request is successful is whether you have a valid reason for expedite. What do I mean by this? Well, USCIS has certain criteria you’ll need to meet to expedite your green card application.

  • Severe financial loss to company or individual
    • You’ll need to show that without an expedite you will suffer severe financial loss. I’m not talking about the money you will spend to visit your spouse abroad, that isn’t severe enough.
  • Extreme emergencies
    • An extreme emergency can include a seriously ill U.S. spouse (terminal cancer). If the U.S. spouse is completely disabled and needs around the clock care. Just being sick in the hospital isn’t enough to prove an extreme emergency. Submit evidence such as medical records, letters from your doctors and other documents showing prognosis.
  • Humanitarian situation
    • If a civil war or mass starvation has hit your home country, USCIS will consider this a humanitarian situation and expedite your case so that you don’t suffer the consequences. Include new articles talking about the war or famine in your country. The articles must have accurate dates and be verifiable by USCIS adjudicators.
  • Nonprofit status of requesting organization in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
    • If a nonprofit organization requests expedited processing to promoted democratic interests. I haven’t seen this type of expedite request but I thought I’d explain it anyway.
  • Department of Defense or National Interest Situation
    • This expedite request must come from official United States Government entity and any delays in processing of your case will be detrimental to the US government. This reason for expedite is very rare as well.
  • USCIS error
    • It’s no surprise that USCIS can and do make mistakes when processing a case. If you can prove they made an error in processing your case, notify them quickly by calling customer service at 1-800-375-5283 or schedule an InfoPass appointment at a local office. You can then request an expedite of your case as long as you can prove it was their error which caused the delay in processing.
  • Compelling interest of USCIS
    • This criteria is almost impossible to meet. Ultimately, it’s up to USCIS to decide what’s in their best interest. I’m honestly not sure what type of evidence you could provide in this case.

How Long Will I-485 Processing Times Take?

i485 processing times

If I had a nickle every time someone asked me how long it will take to process their I-485, I’d be rich!

The answer is that it depends.

The standard processing times for the I-485 adjustment of status is 5 to 12 months.

But for some cases, it can be as quick as 4 months to as long as several years. The reason for this huge difference is the circumstances of your case. If you have a simple case where you entered the country legally and then married an American, processing times can be quick.w

But, if you entered the country illegally and then were deported, you’ll likely face some roadblocks to approval.

Case Example:

Bruce entered the country on tourist visa from the U.K. and didn’t leave in within 6 months. He stayed for 5 years and began working with an fake social security number. He eventually met Kate at his job and they decided to marry 9 months later.

When it was time to apply for a green card for Bruce, they were worried about his overstay and how this would affect his case. Since Bruce entered the country legally on the visa waiver program, his case wouldn’t be looked at so negatively. But, he did gain unlawful presence time and will need to submit the I-601A waiver before his I-485 application would be approved.

The above situations is probably the most common problem that many people run into. Most people who accrue unlawful presence time actually entered the U.S. legally on a visa or the visa waiver program (VWP).

Filing a waiver will delay the I-485 processing times by several months. Luckily, Bruce is eligible to use the I-601A waiver for unlawful presence so he won’t need to leave the country while he waits.

Another issue here is whether immigration officials will realize that he has been working with a fake SSN. This can cause further delays or a finding of fraud and misrepresentation.

Final Thoughts On I-485 Processing Times

As you can see, the I-485 processing times can vary greatly and it depends on how you entered the U.S.

Today, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty because of the severe crackdown on undocumented residents. It’s really unfortunate because some people have been in the U.S. for decades and are now being sent to a foreign country they don’t call home.

Without proof that you entered the country legally, it’s really difficult to adjust status in the U.S.

I see it as a trap that sucks people in and with very little options to overcome it. Yes, there are waivers available but filing one is no guarantee that it will be approved. If you are in this situation, get guidance from an immigration attorney that is familiar with the waiver process.

Adjusting status from a valid visa is a lot simpler. You can submit the I-130 with the I-485 and include evidence of a bona fide marriage. You will likely wait about 4-5 months and attend an interview with USCIS.

The adjustment of status interview is also straightforward. They will ask questions about your relationship and statements you’ve made on your previous immigration applications.

In the end, you want to prove you have a valid case to adjust status for a green card. Consider enrolling in my [cp_modal id=”cp_id_92548″]free Adjustment of Status mini course[/cp_modal] that will walk you through every step of the process from start to finish.

Wondering how long the I-485 processing times will take? Did you need to submit a waiver for your case? Let me know in the comments below.

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Hello Ayan, thanks for your assistance so far on adjusting my status. I have a clarification on this new lesson on d issue of waiver. I have been in the US with my 4 kids since 2015 after my formal husband divorced me, our visa expired this year June but got married to my husband who is a US citizen this year September , am yet to submit my application for AOS due to fund for me and the 4 kids. What do your advise do I first apply for the waiver before processing or what?. Thanks as i wait… Read more »