Adjustment of Status is the term the USCIS uses when you move from visa status to permanent resident status. If you are able to attain permanent resident status you are issued a green card. You can live and work freely throughout the United States as long as you maintain the status, or you become a U.S. citizen.
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is the USCIS form that will be needed to complete this immigration process.
You will be required to submit to the USCIS a list of supporting evidence along with the completed form. The supporting evidence is designed to prove the answers you have given on the application. For example, if you answered that you were born in Mexico you will have to provide a copy of your birth certificate showing where you were born.
The specific evidence you are required to submit varies case by case and, in some cases, varies by the immigrant category you are filing under. Immigrant categories include petitions based on family relationships, employment petitions, or petitions through marriage.
You must submit all of the required evidence along with your application. If you fail to submit a completed application with the required evidence needed to establish your case, you risk delays, rejections, or denials.
The USCIS states, if you cannot submit the primary evidence (birth certificates, marriage records, etc.), you can send in what’s called secondary evidence. This type of evidence can include school or church records but along with that, you must send in a reason why the primary evidence is not available.
If primary and secondary evidence is not available you must explain why that is and submit two or more affidavits, sworn by people who are not parties to the immigration benefit but have personal knowledge of the event or detail you’re trying to prove.
Documents Required Before Filing to Adjust of Status
The number of documents needed will vary but let’s go over some of the most popular.
- Photographs: You must submit two recent identical color passport-style photos of yourself. The USCIS requires the photos be on a white to an off-white background, printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and un-edited. The photos must be 2 by 2 inches. Those photos must be in color with a frontal view of your full face. You cannot be wearing anything on your head unless it’s required for religious reasons. Using a pencil or felt pen you must add your A-Number on the back of the photo.
- Government-Issued ID: Everyone who submits Form I-485 should also send in a photocopy of a government-issued ID that has their picture on it. This is typically a passport or similar document, even if the passport is expired. The USCIS will accept other government-issued IDs such as a driver’s license or military identification.
- Birth Certificate: Most I-485 applicants must also submit a copy of their birth certificate issued by the appropriate civil authority from the country of their birth. The USCIS will only accept a long-form birth certificate which lists at least one parent.
If your birth certificate is not available or does not exist, you must prove that fact to the USCIS. You will also be required to provide other evidence of birth. The U.S. Department of State has a list of countries and what types of documents they offer.
- Inspection and Admission or Inspection and Parole: Most Form I-485 applicants must submit copies of a document showing you were inspected by an immigration officer and either admitted or paroled into the United States. The USCIS states you can prove this by presenting copies of:
- Passport page with admission or parole stamp issued by an immigration officer.
- Passport page with nonimmigrant visa
- Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
The USCIS will accept secondary evidence if one of the primary documents listed above is unavailable. The documents must have been maintained in the ordinary course of business by any individual or organization other than DHS.
If no secondary evidence is available, you may submit written statements. The written statements must be signed under penalty of perjury and may come from yourself or from any other individuals who have personal knowledge of the circumstances of your claimed admission or parole. According to the USCIS, any statement should explain in detail when and where you came into the United States; what documents you had, if any; whether you showed them to the immigration inspector; any questions the immigration inspector asked; and any other details about your claimed admission or parole.
- Documentation of Your Immigrant Category: As part of your Form I-485 application, you must prove you’re eligible for a green card in a particular immigrant category. This can typically be established with a copy of Form I-797, Approval Notice, or Receipt Notice for your petition.
- Marriage Certificate and Other Proof of Relationship: If you’re filing Form I-485 as the spouse of the principal application, you must typically submit a copy of your marriage certificate. If either party in the marriage was previously married, the USCIS requires you to submit evidence showing all earlier marriages were legally ended.
- Evidence of Continuously Maintaining a Lawful Status Since Arrival in the United States: This evidence is to ensure you maintained lawful immigration status since the time you were allowed into the country. This evidence is required for immigrants in many categories including family-based, employment-based; special immigrant religious workers, Diversity Visa Lottery winners and others. There are several documents that can help you prove you maintained lawful status including Form I-797, approval notices for visa extensions and changes to immigrant status, Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, a passport page with an admission or parole stamp, Form I-20 and Form DS-2019.
You must include evidence for every time you entered the United States and for the time spent in the country.
- Affidavit of Support/Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer: One of the goals of the USCIS is to admit people who will not become a “public charge”. That essentially means someone who is living off of government support. One way to do that is to confirm an applicant has financial support through friends, family or an employer. The USCIS will require an affidavit of support for those filing I-485 as a fiancé, a relative, or an employment-based visa if the business is five or more percent owned by a relative. If you’re filing through an employer, the USCIS will need to see a confirmation of the job offer.
- Evidence of Financial Support: This requirement is somewhat connected to the above. To demonstrate financial support you will likely need to complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. Most family-based applications and some employment-based green card applications will be required to complete Form I-864 to prove they will not become a public charge.
- Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record: Nearly all green card applicants will have to undergo a medical examination to ensure they are not inadmissible for the immigration benefit due to health concerns. The USCIS states the exams have to be done by a USCIS approved civil surgeon. To find one you can call the USCIS 1-800-375-5283. These exams do not have to be done at the time you send in your green card application, but it is something you should prepare for as most doctors require an appointment.
- Certified Police and Court Records of Criminal Charges, Arrests, or Convictions: The USCIS requires all applicants to report any and all criminal charges, arrests, or convictions you may have on your record. Be prepared to submit copies of arrest reports, court documents, dispositions, indictments, or any other document dealing with an arrest or a criminal charge. You are required to disclose all criminal activity to the USCIS, even if the incident occurred while you were a minor. In most cases, you do not need to submit information relating to traffic violations that didn’t involve a physical arrest and if the penalty was less than $500 or points on your driver’s license.
- Waiver of Inadmissibility: Certain immigrants can be inadmissible to the United States. Inadmissibility can be determined for several different reasons. Being inadmissible just means that, you will not be allowed into the country. There is, however, a way to become admissible. It’s through a Waiver of Inadmissibility. Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Having this waiver granted will allow you to become admissible into the United States.
Simplifying Form I-485
The previous list can be daunting for anyone about to start the process of applying for a green card. FileRight’s goal is to make that process easier. If you choose to use FileRight’s Form I-485 application preparation service, the system will tell you exactly what supporting evidence you will need to file with your application.
FileRight also helps by simplifying and organizing complicated questions written by the government. After completing the application, you will receive customized filing instructions to help assemble your application according to the USCIS’ standards. The goal is to ensure you file your application correctly, the first time.
Every FileRight application preparation service begins with an eligibility quiz that will let you know if you’re eligible to use FileRight for your application before you begin.
If you’re found to be eligible, you can start your application right away.