For complete steps for NVC/Consular Processing, please click here: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/09/nvc-consular-processing-steps.html
Since a lot of our readers are going to file I-485 applications in the coming months, we decided to write an article on how to file I-485 application and also explain process AFTER filing I-485 applications. It applies to both EB and FB category applicants.
Did you know: In EB category, only employers can file PERM and I-140 application. However I-485 application can be filed either by YOU or your employer.
If your case is simple, we recommend filing the I-485 application yourself. You can save anywhere from $1000 to $5000 or more in lawyers fees. If your case is not straight forward, then it is highly recommended to use a lawyer to review your case and help you file the I-485 applications.
Important Note: If you are outside US, do not file I-485 application. You would have to go for consular processing. Please see complete steps for consular processing.
Please see below documents for filing I-485 application(s):
Documents Needed: Always send a photocopy of documents mentioned below, unless specifically mentioned that originals should be sent
1. I-485 form (new edition coming soon). Remember to always use black ink, fill all section (use N/A if applicable). Remember to date and sign the form.
2. Form I-485A - ONLY if you are applying under status 245(i). See Filing Instructions. Fees is additional $1000
3. Filing Fees (see section below)
4. Form G-325A - Biographic Information Sheet only for applicants between 14 and 79 years of age
5. Evidence of eligibility:
a. EB category: I-140 Approval notice (or I-140 pending notice if PD is current)
b. FB category: I-130 Approval notice (or I-130 pending notice if PD is current)
c. K1 Fiance: Fiance petition approval notice + marriage certificate + Form I -94
d. Asylum: Copy Of letter or Form I-94 that shows date asylum granted.
6. Criminal History (if applicable): Please see page 3 of I-485 instruction document.
7. Copy of birth certificate
8. Copy of passport page with non immigrant visa(s)
9. Two identical recent passport color photos
10. Form I-693 Medical Examination (signed and sealed by USCIS designated physician)
11. Affidavit of Support OR Employment Letter
a. EB Category: Employment Letter - Submit letter on letterhead of petitioning employer confirming job availability and the salary to be paid.
b. FB Category: Affidavit of Support: Submit Form I-864
12. Form G-28 - ONLY if an attorney is representing your case.
13. Form I-765 - EAD Card for working - This is optional but highly recommended
14. Form I-131 - Advance Parole (AP) Card for traveling - This is optional but highly recommended
15. Form I-134 - Affidavit of Support, if you file as a derivative, (this applies when husband, wife and children are filing application at same time). If spouse or child reside outside US, primary applicant should file form I-824.
16. Form G-1145 - To receive text message or email notification. This form is optional
17. Latest I-94 card (copies of both sides), if applicable.
18. Marriage certificate (if applicable)
19. All I-797 forms - Notice Of Action received/approval of I-130/I-140 applications - optional
If you are filing form I-765 and I-131, then total photos would be six (instead of just two for I-485).
Optional documents (recommended by some law firms) photocopies only:
1. Tax returns for the previous two years
2. W-2 forms for the previous two years
3. Two recent pay stubs
4. Degree certificates
5. All previous EAD's including student practical training
6. All I-20 forms
7. All pages of passport
Filing Fees (per person) for I-485 Form:
a. Age: 14 to 79 years: $985 + $85 (biometric fees) = $1070
b. Age: Below 14 years: $635 (only when submitted with parents application, else $985)
c. Age: 79 years or more: $985 only
d. No fees if filing under the Refugee status.
How to Pay: Either with Check or Money Order. You can submit just one (or more) Checks/Money Order. Make the check or money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security". Type this in FULL.
Note 1: USCIS is planning to change the I-485 form soon (though it would continue to accept current form for a while).
Note 2: Always send legible photocopies for all
supporting documents - unless specifically stated that original
documents are required.
Note 3: Any document containing foreign language
shall be accompanied by a full English language translation which the
translator has certified as complete and accurate. The translator must
also certify he or she is competent to translate from the foreign
language into English
Note 4: Some forms may have it own (separate) filing fees.Some forms may require additional documents (e.g. EAD/AP form - each require 2 photos). Always be truthful when filing out all forms.
Note 5: Always remember to (a) use black ink when filling the form(s) (b) type or PRINT words (c) sign and date all the forms.
Note 6: Remember to check all forms for any errors
Note 7: Remember to create similar application for spouse/children (photos, EAD/AP, birth certificate, etc). Put each application in separate envelope and then put all these envelopes into one big envelope for mailing.
Important Note: Always see the LATEST I-485 filing instruction document to see what the current requirements are for filing I-485 application. The list mentioned above can change anytime.
Q. What if applicant received an RFE after filing I-485?
A. RFE stands for Request For Evidence. It means either (a) you did not submit a document needed by USCIS or (b) the document you submit is old/outdated. Once you get the RFE notice details, just send the correct documents to USCIS to process them. RFE typically have a time limit - so make sure you respond quickly.
Q. How long does USCIS take to process RFE?
A. USCIS typically takes 7-10 days days to process RFE response after they received it.
Q. Where should I-485 application be sent/mailed to?
A. The location to send I-485 application depends on the type and eligibility of I-485 application. It also depends on which state you live and whether you are using regular mail or express mail to send application to USCIS. Please see page 5 to 8 of the I-485 filing instruction document for complete details.
Also see this: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f...
Q. When should I-485 application be mailed?
A. If your PD becomes current in July 2013 visa bulletin, then make sure that your application does not reach USCIS before July 1, 2013. If USCIS receives it before that date, they may reject it and return it back to you (which could take 30-45 days). Make sure you or your lawyer (or their new assistant) does not send the application before the PD becomes current. In rare cases, they have accepted applications before the PD is current.
Tip: If your PD is current in July VB, you can send it anytime between July 1 and July 31. If your PD is still current in Aug and Sept VB, you can send it anytime between July 1 and Sept 30. All this means is that you can send I-485 as long as PD is current. You do not have to rush to send it on the very first day (or month) when the PD becomes current.
Q. How long does I-485 processing take?
A. Currently the average I-485 processing time is 4 months in NSC and 8 months in TSC. So each individual case could take the same, shorter or longer than that. See current USCIS processing time.
Q. How does USCIS process I-485 application?
A. USCIS goes by receipt date of I-485 application to process it. They do not go by PD. This does not mean that applicant A whose receipt date is earlier than applicant B will be approved earlier. There are many checks made by USCIS, FBI, etc which could take longer for some applicants. Each application could have different processing time.
Also if I-485 application is preadjudicated then USCIS will allot visas based on PD (and not I-485 receipt date).
Tip: Preadjudication means that USCIS have finished processing the I-485 application and is waiting for visa numbers (date to move forward in visa bulletin so that visa number is available). Preadjudicated cases appear in monthly demand data. Learn more.
Q. Can I be notified when USCIS takes any action on I-485 case?
A. Yes there are three ways: (1) Submit form G-1145 mentioned above to get notification by text or email message (2) Sign up to USCIS case status website to get text/email notification (3) You can add your case to GC Tracker and check your status from there with just one click.
Q. What happens after I-485 application is filed?
A. The typical steps are listed below:
1) You wait for Receipt Notices - it could take around 1-4 weeks
2) Then you wait for FP (Finger print) notice - it could take around 3-4 weeks. If the nearest service center for FP is busy, then it could take 2+ months also. Once you get the FP notice, it will have location and date/time that you should appear to have all ten fingerprints taken. You NEED this FP notice before you can go for finger printing. If you go before/after the date listed they might ask you to come later or get a new date.
3) You wait for EAD/AP approval notices - it could take around 3 months.
4) Then finally you wait for any updates on your I-485 application
5) Either you will get RFE where USCIS asks for additional documents/proof
6) Or last stage is you get I-485 approval/rejection notice/alert -- should get in 4-8 months (if your PD remains current).
7) Some family based I-485 applications (example F2A category) will be called for interview.
Receipts/Notices in most steps above are sent to you and lawyer (assuming you used a lawyer). In case of RFE, only lawyer will get the notice (if you did not use a lawyer, it will come directly to you). The processing time listed for each step above is approximate. It could take longer or shorter time than that.
Q. Whom does USCIS ask for interview?
A. Some family based applicants (such as F2A category or petitioner sponsoring spouse) are required to come for in person interview. Also USCIS may randomly decide to call other applicants (EB or other categories) for interview. Interview may also be schedule if name check (or some other background check) triggered additional verification required check from USCIS.
Q. What about applicants who submitted I-485 in 2007?
A. If you have submitted your I-485 more than a year back, then most likely your case would have been preadjudicated. This means that you do not have to do anything else when the PD becomes current. USCIS will either (a) issue RFE (b) reject application or (c) approve application. If you are impatient, you can always open a service request by calling USCIS national phone number (link on right side).
Q. Can applicant change employer after filing I-485?
A. If the I-485 case has been pending for over 180 days then using AC-21 rule, you can switch employer. You can notify USCIS that you are switching employer; though some people decide not to do this (since USCIS could issue an RFE and request more details such as new salary, job title, location, etc).
Also see more FAQs: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/07/fb-category-frequently-asked-questions.html
Did you know: Every year more than 1 million visas are issued. Learn more fun facts.
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