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Questions about Form I-485 Processing

The purpose of the I-485 is to apply to adjust your status to become a permanent resident of the United States. Where you file the form depends on the eligibility category under which you are filing. The information on the USCIS website has all the instructions and details. However, you still may have several unanswered questions. Below are some of the common questions answered about the I-485.

Can you change jobs after your I-485 approval or Green Card has come through? What is the processing time for the I-485?

Ideally, continuing in the same work place for six months or more after the I-485 is approved would be best. This is because the U.S. government has issued the residency based in part on the stipulated criteria related to the sponsoring employer. If you decide to change jobs right after obtaining the I-485 approval, it could arouse suspicion about your intentions, which could possibly lead to a reopening of the case. Changing to a similar job after the I-485 has been pending for 6 months or more is a wiser option.

Usually it takes around six months to process a I-485. This is an estimate and processing time is subject to change and delays. In the event of a major delay, an individual can sue U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under “mandamus action”. This compels the authority to take a decision on your case. However, this could prove expensive and money spent cannot be recovered even if you win the case.

If the I-485 is not approved after a person graduates, does the status remain legal? In case the I-485 is denied, is there a grace period to change one’s status?

If the I-485 is not approved by graduation, the person is out of status and therefore illegal. Changing status would be possible if the I-485 were denied prior to graduation. There is no grace period if the status is not changed prior to graduation.

Can the I-485 and I-130 be filed concurrently and sent to the same address? Who is the sponsor and petitioner when I-485 is applied for dependant as well?

Both forms can be filed and sent together to the same address, as per the instructions mentioned on page 5 or 6 of the I-485 form. When the I-485 is applied by, for example, a husband declaring his wife as dependant, then he is considered as the sponsor as well as petitioner. Usually the Immigration office will ask for documents such as affidavit of support from sponsor and petitioners evidence of United States Citizenship.

Can two I-485 applications be filed by a couple?

This is a possibility in a scenario as follows: if a couple have two separately approved I-140 forms and either one of them has a current priority date. In such a case an I-485 can be filed using the current priority date. If the first I-485 is not approved, another I-485 may be filed once the priority date becomes current. Having two I-485 applications pending at the same time is permissible.

Can a person file for bankruptcy while their I-485 is pending?

In most cases, filing for bankruptcy may not affect a pending I-485. There is no provision against filing for bankruptcy while USCIS considers a candidacy for naturalization or permanent residency. However it may arouse questions under the law of “moral turpitude”. This is a legal concept in the U.S. that, according to West’s Encyclopedia of Law, refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals”. Hence, if it is discovered the bankruptcy occurred due to fraud or dishonesty on the part of the individual filing, then it could adversely affect the outcome of the I-485. It is recommended to use the services of an attorney while filing bankruptcy to avoid such difficulties.

There are many other requirements and forms related to the I-485, but it is one of the most important applications in order to obtain citizenship. Filling it correctly and following the processes play a crucial role. Your employment, status, decisions, and travel can all influence the outcome of the I-485. Equipping yourself with accurate information and clarifying doubts at every juncture will prove advantageous.
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