This article gives an insight into how to apply for green card and the I-485 timeline. The first step in your journey to filing for green card application is the submission of Form I-485 which is referred to as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or to change the status. In other words, Form I-485 is the petition to register for a permanent legal residence or to adjust the nonimmigrant’s status to permanent resident. Adjustment of status to permanent resident refers to becoming a green card holder, with minimum restrictions and without the requirement to return to one’s home country.

After the submission of green card application and Form I-485, there are many other important forms and pieces of evidence that need to be submitted in order to become a permanent citizen of the U.S.

Form I-485 Timeline and Green Card application submission

On submission of the green card application, the petitioner will receive the receipt within 10 days of application approval. On submission of Form G-1145, an E-notification of application/ petition acceptance with the Form I-485, the petitioner will also get an e-mail or text confirmation within 24 hrs of an application being accepted. The green card applicant can check their case status online by entering the receipt number, which will be provided on both physical and e-receipt.
It is important to note that the petition will get delayed or not be accepted if Form I-485 is submitted without a signature or the right amount of the filing fee is not submitted. USCIS will send a notification in case there are any discrepancies. Due to the errors in the green card application, the applicant will resubmit the application after fixing the errors and this will delay the entire process. USCIS can also request for more evidence and originals of the documents that the petitioner submitted. The originals will be returned to the petitioner once the discrepancies have been resolved.

Green Card application submission

Biometrics Notice

Once the I-485 application is filed and all the formalities are completed, the petitioner will receive a biometrics service appointment notification in the mail, and the appointment will be held at a local Application Support Center (ASC). The biometrics appointment is held 3-5 weeks after filing of an application.  The biometrics notice will comprise of information like the date, time and location of the appointment. In the biometrics appointment, applicant’s fingerprints, photograph, and signature which is required to verify the applicant’s identity and for further steps like the background check. At the biometrics appointment, following documents are required:

  • Biometrics Appointment Notice
  • Photo identities such as the passport, driver’s license, and state-issued photo ID card
  • If you are not a fluent English speaker, then it is suggested to bring a translator

Biometrics Notice

USCIS Interview

The interview notification is sent approximately 4-10 months after filing the Form I-485. Once the previous steps are completed, the petitioner is asked to appear at a USCIS office for an in-person interview. The time and location of the interview will be mentioned in the description of the notice. The applicant is required to bring along the basic application documents such as the passport, official travel documents, Form I-94 and a copy of Form I-94. The other document originals should also be submitted with Form I-485.

Final decision stage

USCIS will mail their decision in the form of a written notice after the interview is conducted. The decision is mailed approximately 8-14 months after the green card application is filed. If the application is approved, green card is mailed a few days after the first written notice is mailed. USCIS mails the decision, either way, even if the application is rejected, they will explain the reason and mention on the notice if the petitioner can appeal the decision. In case, the notice says the petitioner cannot appeal the decision, they can send a proposal for reconsideration. Form I-290B is referred to as the Notice of Appeal or Motion and it is used by the applicant to file an appeal or motion.