How to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with Form I-485 in Arizona
You may qualify to adjust your status with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through family-based immigration, a job offer, or any other grounds, but the rules are complex. Errors may lead to delays or a denial of your application, preventing you from getting a green card while inside the US. Therefore, it is critical to retain an Arizona immigration applications lawyer who has in-depth knowledge of the regulations and will guide you through the process. You can also learn more by reviewing some helpful facts about Form I-485.
Purpose of Application to Adjust Status in Arizona
If you are a non-US citizen who is present in the country, you must complete Form I-485 when seeking a green card to gain permanent residence. When you adjust your status, you can get your green card by using a visa that you already legally obtained, so you do not have to return and re-enter. However, you cannot file Form I-485 until a visa is available. For some family-based immigration categories, a visa may be immediately available. With others, availability is affected by the immigration class, home country, and the number of applicants for the same type of visa.
Upon meeting the requirements for Form I-485 and getting approval by USCIS, you have LPR status that enables you to lawfully reside and work in the US. Plus:
- As a green card holder, you can move to the next steps with US citizenship within a few years.
- LPR status means you can support a foreign-born relative who seeks an immigrant visa under the family-based preference categories.
- You can travel outside the US and re-enter with your green card and other identification documentation.
Eligibility Rules and Legal Criteria in Arizona
Form I-485 covers a range of green card categories, so eligibility rules vary based on your circumstances and reasons for seeking LPR status. There are three general classifications when you are adjusting status through Form I-485:
1. Family: Marriage and family immigration laws differ according to the status of the sponsor who is helping a relative get a green card. US citizens can assist fiancés, spouses, children, and parents, as well as other family members as beneficiaries. When the sponsor has LPR status, eligibility works according to family-based preference categories.
2. Employment: There are also multiple options for those seeking a green card for employment, so you may qualify for LPR status a
- A first preference priority worker with extraordinary abilities in the arts, business, or sciences
- A second preference worker who has an advanced degree or other exceptional abilities
- A third preference worker with other skills
- An immigrant investor
3. Special Immigrant Class: You could qualify to file Form I-485 if you fall into any of the immigration categories established for special circumstances. Examples include:
- Victims of human trafficking and other crimes
- Immigrant juveniles who have been abandoned or abused by parents
You are not eligible to file Form I-485 for a green card if you are considered inadmissible under immigration laws. Grounds for inadmissibility may include criminal activity, health issues, and lack of labor certification for employment.
Prerequisites to Filing Form I-485
In addition to eligibility criteria, there is an important legal requirement to meet before you can adjust your status while in the US. There must be a petition filed by a person or entity on behalf of the person seeking a green card, known as the beneficiary. For family-based immigration, the petitioner will prepare Form I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative. Through this document, the petitioner provides information that establishes the familial relationship with the beneficiary.
For employment immigration, the petitioner files Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers on behalf of a noncitizen worker who is seeking a green card. Usually, the petitioner is the potential employer. It is necessary for the petitioner to include information on how the beneficiary meets the regulatory criteria for a first, second, and third-preference worker.
Either Form I-130, Form I-140, or other applicable immigrant petitions must be approved before the beneficiary can move on to adjust status.
Steps for Adjustment of Status
After checking eligibility and getting approval on the immigrant petition, you can begin preparations for filing Form I-485. The application to adjust status requires extensive, detailed information to complete, so you should gather and organize important paperwork. A summary of the key sections of the green card application will help you understand what to expect.
- Part 1 is information about you, including all names, name changes, addresses, home nation, and your arrival in the US. You will also need to supply the different case and identification numbers that were assigned by USCIS.
- In Part 2, you will provide details about the basis for seeking LPR statuses, such as family, employment, or special categories.
- Form I-485 requires information about your parents, spouse, relationships, and other aspects of your family history.
- When you finalize the application, you must sign it along with a declaration that all information is true and correct. Your signature is given under oath, so there can be serious consequences for making false or misleading statements.
Evidence for Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status in Arizona
You will need to supply numerous details about your identity, history, and eligibility to back up the statements you make in your green card application. It will be necessary to submit supporting documentation along with Form I-485, and failure to include all relevant paperwork could lead to delays. The requirements vary according to your basis for LPR status, but you should be prepared to provide:
- Government-issued ID
- A copy of your birth certificate
- USCIS approval on Form I-130, Form I-140, or other immigrant petition
- Details on your criminal background, if any
- Confirmation of a job offer
- An Affidavit of Support, where applicable
- Medical exam and vaccination reports
If you and your circumstances qualify, it may not be necessary to get approval on an immigrant petition before filing documents for the green card. USCIS rules allow for the concurrent filing of Form I-130 or Form I-140 along with Form I-485, in which you would send all paperwork, supporting evidence, and filing fees to the same location for processing at the same time. Alternatively, you could send Form I-485 after the immigrant petition, and it is considered concurrent filing if Form I-130 or Form I-140 has not been approved.
Concurrent filing may be available:
- When a US citizen applies for an immediate family member
- If a visa is immediately available for employment-based immigration
- For multiple special immigrant categories
The key with many concurrent filings is whether there is a visa immediately available for the beneficiary. If not, the immigrant petition must be approved before adjustment of status. The exception is when a US citizen applies for an immediate alien relative since there are no numeric limitations on visas in this category.
How Long It Takes USCIS to Process an I-486 Application in Arizona
The process will be different for each applicant based on the category of adjusting status. It can take several months to more than a year to receive word from USCIS, and information about USCIS processing times is available online.
You are more likely to gain approval promptly when you complete all Form I-485 requirements and include all relevant supporting documents. Plus, you are in a favorable position when you have legal help from an Arizona Form I-485 attorney who can assist with:
- Coordinating the completion of Form I-130 or Form I-140 by your sponsor
- Gathering and reviewing all supporting documents
- Completing Form I-485 to adjust status with USCIS
- Addressing a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny your Application
- Preparing you for an interview, if required by USCIS
Legal Impact of Adjusting Status
Once your Form I-485 application for a green card is approved, you can go to the local USCIS office and get the appropriate stamp in your passport. The date you do so is considered your adjustment date for official LPR status. Your actual green card will arrive at the mailing address you provided in your application.
As an LPR, you can reside and work in the US permanently. You cannot be deported to your home nation, barring criminal activity or other violations of law. Green card holders can live and travel within the US, and they can leave the country for up to 12 months.
Within three years, you can apply for citizenship if you are married to a US citizen; if not, you can start the naturalization process within five years after your date of adjustment. Those that decide not to become US citizens can renew their green card every 10 years.
Consult with an Arizona Immigration Attorney About Assistance with Form I-485
These facts should help you gain some insight into Form I-485 applications and basic eligibility requirements to get a green card while in the US. The information also highlights the importance of retaining skilled legal counsel for assistance with the process. Our team at Diamondback Legal has extensive experience advising those seeking LPR status, so please call (602) 755-3199 or go online to reach our offices in Phoenix. We are happy to set up a consultation with an Arizona green card lawyer who will provide personalized details.
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