The New Green Card Application aka Form I-485

USCIS released a newly designed Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status on June 26, 2017.  The new form is effective now but the public may continue to use the old form until August 25, 2017. The Form I-485 is used when a person applies for permanent residence status (or green card) in the United States.

The I-485 form was last updated on January 17, 2017.  The new form is significantly longer, expanding the number of pages from 6 to 18. According to USCIS, the final version is already a condensed version after incorporating the public comments.  The basic questions remain the same but in more details.

The most significant changes include the inclusion of questions regarding the applicant's biographic information such as parents' information, address information and employment history.  For many years, applicants answer these questions in the G-325A Biographic Information form.  These questions have been moved to the I-485 form, and in a more detailed format.  For example, while the G-325A form only asks for the month and year of different events, the new form asks for the exact dates of the events.  The new form also asks for the applicant's biometric information such as weight, height, eye and hair colors, etc.  

As explained by USCIS, the new form does make it easier for applicants to identify the visa category under which they are applying for their green cards.  For examples, there are boxes for family-based petitions, employment-based petitions, special immigrants, etc.  

Another significant change is the expansion of questions regarding an applicant's eligibility for permanent residence.  The new form has 80 eligibility-related questions, compared to eight questions (with sub-parts) in the old form. Under the heading of "General Eligibility and Inadmissibility Grounds," there are six sub-categories including: "Criminal Acts and Violations," "Security and Related," "Public Assistance," "Illegal Entries and Other Immigration Violations," "Removal, Unlawful Presence, or Illegal Reentry After Previous Immigration Violations" and "Miscellaneous Conduct."  

Applicants must be very careful when answering these questions, as incorrect or incomplete answers could lead to delay or denial.

The related I-485 Supplement A, required for applications filed under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as the I-485 Supplement J, required for confirmation of job offer and portability under Section 204(j), have both been updated.   Again, the USCIS will only accept the revised version of I-485 (6/26/2017 edition) and Supplement A and J after August 25, 2017.  

Although the  new Form I-485 and its instructions may look different from old versions, the procedure for filing I-485 and I-485 Supplement A and I-485 Supplement J still remain the same. Applicants still need to submit their paper applications to the filing locations listed in the form instructions.

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