Frequently asked questions Adjustment of status

Frequently asked questions
Adjustment of status
1. What are EAD and advance parole documents?
The employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole (AP) document are
interim benefits available to adjustment of status (AOS) applicants while their I-485
application is pending at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While the I-485
remains pending, the EAD allows an I-485 applicant to work, while the AP document enables
an applicant to travel abroad and return to the US without a visa. These documents are
usually issued with a validity of 12 months and are renewable until the I-485 application is
approved.
2. May I travel outside the US while my application for adjustment of status is pending?
Yes, but you will need to obtain certain documents to make sure that your adjustment of
status case is not deemed abandoned. As part of the adjustment of status application
package, you may file for an advance parole document. This document must be issued to you
before you depart the US in order to avoid abandoning your AOS application. You may also
depart the US during the AOS process if you are maintaining valid L-1/L-2 or H-1B/H-4 visa
status, but note that you will need to have an unexpired visa in your passport to be able to
return to the US. In most cases, it is recommended to maintain your L or H status and obtain
an advance parole document. It is critical that you ensure that you and your family have
either valid advance parole documents or valid L/H visa stamps in your passport before
making any travel plans. If you have both documents, you and your accompanying family (if
any) should present only the valid L/H visa stamps in your passports upon your return to the
US, but you should also carry the original advance parole document in case the immigration
officer inquires about it at the port of entry in the US.
3. May I travel outside the US before I receive the advance parole?
You may travel outside the US only if you possess either a valid advance parole document or a
valid H-/L- visa. If you do not possess at least one of these documents, your I-485 will be
deemed abandoned when you depart the US.
4. Can my spouse and children apply for adjustment of status with me?
Yes, your spouse and children less than 21 years of age can file an I-485 application for
adjustment of status as derivative beneficiaries based on the I-140 petition filed on your
behalf. Separate applications must be submitted for each family member filing for adjustment
of status. An applicant for adjustment of status must be physically present in the US in order
to be eligible to file. If your spouse and children are overseas, we strongly recommend that
they re-enter the US in proper non-immigrant status (L-2 or H-4, for example) as soon as
possible to file their I-485 application.
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5. I am currently assigned to a project overseas. Am I still eligible to apply for
adjustment of status?
The adjustment of status application is available only for applicants who are physically
present in the United States. It is safest to remain in the US until the I-485 receipt notice is
issued or for at least one week after the I-485 is filed.
6. My spouse and/or child is/are currently overseas. What can I do if I want him/her to
get a green card?
They should enter or re-enter the US so that they may also file an I-485. To avoid potential
complications in the future, it is strongly recommended that all family members return to the
US in time to file the I-485. If it is impossible for them to travel to the US in the immediate
future, they may be able to file an I-485 separately at a later date, if your priority date
remains current on the visa bulletin and your application is still pending. We can also request
consular processing depending on visa number availability, even after your application is
approved. If your priority date retrogresses, then your spouse and/or children will NOT be
eligible to file the I-485 or obtain the green card via consular processing until the priority date
becomes current again.
7. Do I need to complete the Form G325A for my children? Is there an age requirement
for applicants to complete/file the Form G325A?
Each of your accompanying family members filing the I-485 application must also complete
the Form G325A Biographical Information if they are between 14 and 79 years of age.
8. My child will turn 21 after my application for adjustment of status is filed. Will he or
she still be eligible for a green card?
In general, children may lose their eligibility to obtain permanent residence as your
dependents on their 21st birthday, but provisions of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)
have added greater flexibility to prevent your children from “aging out” if certain
requirements are met. It is recommended to file the I-485 before the child turns 21 if at all
possible. If you have a child who is close to turning 21, or who has turned 21 recently, please
alert our office so that we may assess his or her eligibility for adjustment under the CSPA. The
best way to alert us is to include a written note with the courier package of documents that
you send us.
9. I am unable to obtain a long-form birth certificate from my country. What should I
do?
Each country has its own requirements and procedures for obtaining birth certificates or
secondary evidence in lieu of birth certificates that are acceptable to the USCIS. Please refer
to your country information at the U.S. Department of State website at this link: http://travel.
state.gov/visa/reciprocity/index.htm.
Unobtainable or incomplete birth certificates
If your birth was not recorded, please submit a “no record of birth registration” letter from
the relevant authorities along with secondary evidence (see below). If your name is not
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mentioned on the birth certificate, submit the certificate along with secondary evidence. If
any details are missing in the birth certificate or if there is a discrepancy regarding your date
of birth or name, submit the certificate along with secondary evidence.
Secondary evidence of birth
In most cases, the USCIS will accept the documents listed below as secondary evidence of
birth. It is best to submit as many of the following as possible. The oldest documents are
usually given the most weight, as they were issued closest to the time of your birth.
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Baptismal certificate
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Adoption decree
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School records
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Hospital/medical records
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Notarized affidavit from a witness (a parent, a close relative, a neighbor or friend who was
present at the time of your birth and who was at least 10 years old when you were born).
The person making this affidavit must state how he/she knows your family and how he/she
knows the facts of your birth.
Please ensure that these document(s) also include your name, date and place of birth; names
of both parents; and the seal of issuing office.
10. My parents’ full names are not on the birth certificate. Will this be sufficient?
Your birth certificate should be accompanied by secondary evidence in the form of a
notarized affidavit from your parents giving details of their full names and the reason for their
full name not being mentioned on the birth certificate.
11. Can you provide us a sample affidavit to be provided in lieu of a birth certificate?
There is no prescribed format for such affidavits. Your relatives should contact the local
notary public or oath commissioner in their country of residence for executing an affidavit.
12. Do I need to provide original or certified birth/marriage certificates?
No, you should provide us only with photocopies of the original documents that you have in
your possession. They need not be certified unless accompanied by a translation, in which
case the translation should be from a professional translation service and the translation itself
should be certified by the translator. You should, however, maintain ready access to the
original or government-certified copies in the event that they are requested by the USCIS.
13. What is an alien number? How do I know where it is?
The alien number is an exclusive identifier assigned to certain aliens (foreign nationals) in the
US. You can find this number on your EAD card, if ever issued, or you may also find it on the
receipt or approval notices of your I-140 petition, if any. The alien number starts with the
letter “A” and is generally followed by eight or nine digits (for example, A000-000-000). Not
all foreign nationals will have an alien number prior to filing the I-140 petition or I-485
application.
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14. What is the I-94 card? Is it in my passport?
An I-94 card is the record of your arrival and departure and is always attached inside your
passport. On each arrival to the US, you will be issued a new I-94 card. The I-94 card is
annotated with the appropriate non-immigrant classification (e.g., L-1, H-1B) and the period
within which you are permitted to remain in the US. Whenever you depart the US, your
existing I-94 card in your passport will be collected by the airline when you check-in, and the
I-94 cards will be forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security. At the time when your
I-94 card is being issued to you at the airport, please verify that the officer endorses your I-94
card with the correct non-immigrant classification (e.g., H-1B or L-1A). Also note the date
marked in “Admitted until”; if this date is earlier than the visa expiration date, kindly verify
with the officer that the date was not marked in error before stepping away from the counter.
If you have applied for an extension or change of status within the US, you may also have an I94 card that is attached to the bottom of the I-797 approval notice. Please forward all I-94
cards to us.
15. Should I provide you with the details of my most recent I-94 or the I-94 from my first
entry to the US?
Please provide us with copies of all your I-94 cards. The most important one is the most
recent one. As the information from the I-94 issued at the port of entry is often not captured
well by photocopiers, please be sure that the date and city of entry are clearly identified. If
you are a Canadian citizen, or a non-Canadian who has traveled to Canada with a multipleentry I-94 and you were not issued a new I-94 at your most recent entry, please also provide
the details of the date and place where you last entered the US. It is recommended that you
ask the border patrol officer to stamp your passport as proof of your entry.
16. What are the various processing steps at the USCIS and/or communication expected
from the USCIS after filing an I-495 application?
After submission, receipt notices are normally issued in four to five weeks. Other steps on the
process include:
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Application Support Center (ASC) Appointment Notice. To complete biometrics as part
of your I-485 application processing. This will require you to attend your local ASC to get
your fingerprints taken for security/background checks, together with photographs and
signatures. The appointment notice will provide the address and appointment date/time. If
you are unable to make the appointment, it is critical that you notify us as early as possible
before the scheduled appointment so that we may take steps to prevent your application
from being deemed abandoned.
Approval of I-131 application and receipt of advance parole (AP) documents, normally
in 90 days.* The AP documents are normally mailed to our office and then will be mailed to
you. This document will allow you to travel and return to the US without a visa while your I485 application is pending. Note that you must return to the US prior to the expiration date
on the advance parole document.
Approval of I-765 application and receipt of employment authorization card (EAD),
normally in 90 days.* The EAD card will be mailed directly to your home address. Please
provide a copy to our office when you receive the card. The EAD card will allow you and
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your beneficiaries to work in the US while your I-485 applications are pending and so long
as the EAD card is unexpired.
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Interview appointment. It is fairly rare for employment-based applicants to be scheduled
for an in-person interview at the local USCIS office, but it is possible. If you are scheduled
for an interview, you will receive a notice stating the date, time and location of the
interview. If you are unable to make the appointment, it is critical that you notify us as
soon as possible before the scheduled interview so that we may take steps to prevent your
application from being deemed abandoned.
Adjudication of I-485 application. As it is difficult to predict when a priority date will
become current or retrogress due to visa quotas, it is truly impossible to predict when the
I-485 will be adjudicated. In some case it may take a few months, and in others it may take
several years.
Issuance of permanent resident card. Upon approval of the I-485, the USCIS will mail an
approval notice and order production of the permanent resident card (PR card or green
card). Production of a green card can sometimes take over 30 days. When your PR card is
ready, it will be mailed directly to your home address. Please provide a copy to our office
and your company’s HR representative.
*Processing times of the I-131 and I-765 applications are based on current processing time
frames. The processing times of your applications may be longer and cannot be predicted.
17. What happens at the biometrics appointment? What documents do I need to bring
with me to attend the appointment?
At this appointment, the USCIS will take your photograph, fingerprints and signatures
required to process the I-485 application and conduct mandatory background checks. You
should attend the appointment with two government-issued photo IDs, such as passport and
driver’s license. Please follow the instructions on the biometrics appointment notice.
18. Can I postpone or reschedule the biometrics appointment?
We recommend that you try to attend your appointment as scheduled because there is no
guarantee when the next appointment will be available, and your I-485 may be deemed
abandoned if you fail to attend the appointment. In most cases, the biometrics appointment
notice provides the information regarding rescheduling of the appointment. If there are no
instructions, please email us a copy of the notice, and we will review and advise you of the
next steps.
19. What do I do if I have a criminal record/drunk-driving arrest or conviction?
Let us know ASAP and gather all documentation relating to any arrest or conviction (including
DUI). If the arrest occurred in the US, you will need to obtain a certified copy of the court
docket sheet.
20. Do I need to inform you of traffic violations?
No, there is no need to inform us of common traffic citations, such as speeding, running a red
light or illegal change of lanes. Please notify us of these violations only if you failed to pay a
required fine or appear at a required court hearing resulting in the citation being converted in
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a more serious violation or in the issuance of a bench warrant. Note that you should always
inform us if you have ever been arrested for DUI.
21. How can I check the status of my pending applications?
You can check the status of your pending application(s) and the current processing dates
from the USCIS website at this link: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/jsps/index.jsp. You will need
your application receipt numbers to check the status. You may also call the USCIS customer
service number at +1 800 375 5283.
22. How can I receive status update emails from the USCIS on my pending applications?
You can register at the USCIS website to receive email notifications for updates on your
pending applications at this link: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/jsps/termsconditions.jsp?
contextType=CU_EN
23. I called USCIS for a status update and was advised that my I-485 is pending receipt
of background check results. How long does it normally take to receive the
background check results?
Since the background/security checks are conducted by several agencies other than the
USCIS, neither the USCIS nor our office are in a position to speculate on the time frame
regarding completion of background and security checks. In our experience, some cases can
take several months, even up to a year, to receive their background check results.
24. What should I do to change my address on already filed or pending I-485, I-131 and
I-765 applications?
You should complete and submit the online AR-11 form on the USCIS website to update your
new address. This online AR-11 form needs to be submitted on the USCIS website every time
you change residences and until such time that you become a US citizen. You and your
accompanying family members will also need to change the address for each of your pending
I-485, I-131 and I-765 applications. Please follow this link for details on this process:
https://egov.uscis.gov/crisgwi/go?action=coa
Please also email us your new home address and phone number.
25. I previously held J-1/J-2 status in the US. How does this affect my AOS processing?
Some J-1/J-2 status holders are subject to a two-year home residency requirement, which
requires them return to their home country for two years after completion of the exchange
program they attended in the US. The regulations do not allow such J-1/J-2 holders to file an
I-485 application unless they comply with the two-year home residency requirement or satisfy
the USCIS by obtaining a J-1/J-2 waiver from the Department of State, which sometimes can
take well over 12 months to receive. Please provide our office with copies of your J-1/J-2
visas and IAP-66 (or DS-2019) form and we will review and advise you of the next course of
action.
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26. My passport has expired. Do I need to renew/extend passport to file a I-485
application?
It is preferable to have a valid passport at the time of filing the I-485, but it is not absolutely
essential, and you should not hold up filing while you wait to extend your passport. The USCIS
may issue a request for evidence asking for copies of a valid passport if they are not
submitted upfront. Please provide color copies of your expired passport biographic page with
current visas for the filing of I-485 application. You should, however, make an application for
passport renewal ASAP.
27. My spouse has an I-140 petition that has been approved. Can I file two simultaneous
I-485s?
The multiple filing of I-485 applications is not encouraged and could actually delay the
eventual approval.
28. What is the difference between “consular processing” and “adjustment of status”?
You may obtain lawful permanent residence by either filing an I-485 (adjustment of status) or
applying for an immigrant visa from a US consulate abroad (consular processing). There are
distinct advantages and drawbacks to each method.
1. Adjustment of status
An application for adjustment of status is wholly adjudicated by the USCIS from within the US.
Applicants may wish to adjust their status because of the benefit from provisions that permit
family members of the primary beneficiary to obtain an EAD while the I-485 remains pending.
Furthermore, in some cases, applicants for adjustment of status may be eligible to change the
underlying employer of the I-140 petition, if the I-485 application has been pending for more
than 180 days. The ability to change employers “midstream” could be beneficial in certain
cases where there is an unanticipated change of corporate ownership or structure. Finally,
applicants in certain preference classes and from certain countries may be subject to visa
retrogression, and adjusting status might be the safest option to ensure the applicant is
permitted to continue employment in the US while the application is pending.
2. Consular processing
With consular processing, once the USCIS approves the I-140 employment based petition, the
petition approval is forwarded to the U.S. National Visa Center (NVC), which is operated by
the U.S. Department of State. The NVC will collect immigrant visa fees and biographical
information about the primary beneficiary and all accompanying family members. Depending
on the consulate, applicants may also be required to submit original or government-certified
birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees and custody agreements, as well as
police certificates and other vital documents. Once the NVC has collected all of the required
information and documents, the file will be forwarded to the US consulate for interview
scheduling. Normally, the applicant will be required to complete processing in the country of
his or her citizenship. Once the interview is scheduled, the applicants will be required to
complete medical exams and attend an interview. Applicants will be required to provide
original documents including birth and marriage certificates and police clearance certificates
at the interview. Immigrant visas are generally issued within a few days of the interview.
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Please note that specific visa processing practices may vary between consulates. Once the
immigrant visas are issued, the applicants must enter the US during the validity of the
immigrant visa, normally six months from the date of issuance. Upon subsequent entry, the
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offer will inspect the immigrant visas and other
related documents, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, the CBP officer will admit the
individuals to the US in US permanent resident status with temporary evidence of status valid
for six months. Documentary evidence of permanent status (green cards) will be sent to the
individual by mail within one to six months.
While awaiting the consular interview, the applicant must maintain valid non-immigrant
status, such as H-1B or L-1B, in order to be able to work in the US. Also, unlike with the
adjustment of status process, applicants completing consular processing must continue to
intend to be employed by the sponsoring employer in the job described on the I-140 petition.
Finally, please recall that whether you are applying by adjustment of status or consular
processing, your application cannot be approved unless a visa number is available.
29. What happens if the visa bulletin retrogresses?
If your I-485 application is already pending when priority dates retrogress, it will remain
pending but ineligible for approval until your priority date becomes current again. If this
happens, you will remain eligible to renew your EAD and AP.
30. What if my PERM or ETA 750 is still pending?
If your PERM or ETA 750 is not yet approved, you are not eligible to file the I-140 and I-485.
We recommend that you collect all of the required documents and information, such as birth
and marriage certificates, so that if your labor certification should be approved, and a visa is
available in your category, you will be prepared to send in all of your documents and
information on short notice. Please be aware that we will not be processing I-485s until the
labor certification is actually approved.
31. How will my spouse’s current F-1 status affect AOS processing?
A person who enters the US in F-1 status or changes status to F-1 is required to have “nonimmigrant intent.” Applying for the I-485 can be seen as inconsistent with non-immigrant
intent. Generally, provided that at least 60 days have passed since the time of entering the
US in F-1 status or changing status to F-1, this does not seem to be an issue. However, when
people file the I-485 from F-1 status, they must NOT depart the US until they receive the
advance parole travel document and must not use the F-1 visa to travel. If the person is
working on Optional Practical Training (OPT), it is strongly recommended that they obtain a
new EAD card based on the I-485. Please alert us to any issues regarding F-1 status in writing
when submitting your package of I-485 documents to our office.
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