This may not have made headlines, but recently a redesigned green card application form was released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Simply put, this is the form used by someone already present in the United States to apply for permanent residency—that is, a green card.
Here are 5 things you need to know about this new Form I-485 (technically called an application for “Adjustment of Status”).
1. Starting on August 25, 2017, USCIS will only accept the new version of the I-485
Between now and August 25, you can choose to use the earlier version of the I-485 (first released on January 17). If you’re preparing your green card application now and think there’s any chance that your paperwork will be received by USCIS after August 25, 2017, you’ll want to use the new version of the form to avoid rejection.
2. One supplemental form is gone
Previously, filing a Form I-485 also required completing Form G-325A, which collected the necessary biographical information about the green card applicant. The new I-485 includes all the information previously collected through the G-325A, so that’s one less form to worry about.
3. But the new I-485 asks a lot more questions
The old form had 31 questions designed to assess whether the applicant is eligible for a green card. The new form has 93 questions. This isn’t because the law has changed—the technical grounds for “ineligibility and inadmissibility” are the same as ever. But the new I-485 covers more of these factors up front, and in greater detail (for example, by breaking up one complicated question into 2 or 3 simpler questions). And always, it’s important to read every question carefully and provide accurate answers. The new I-485 also includes space at the end of the form to provide additional information—for example, now you can supplement your “Yes/No” responses with explanations if you are unsure about your answer, or if you think a USCIS officer reviewing your application should have some extra background information.
4. The new I-485 is designed to “flow” better
In an effort to be more user-friendly, USCIS is breaking up the many questions in the I-485 under various headings and sub-headings. For example, the “General Eligibility and Inadmissibility Grounds” section of the form is divided into six subsections, each addressing a specific category of inadmissibility (such as “Criminal Acts and Violations”). While completing your green card application, it’s important to read each question carefully, paying special attention to those questions that refer back to previous questions.
5. The new I-485 is much longer than the old version
All the above changes make the new I-485 significantly longer than its predecessor. Three times longer, to be precise—the old form was just 6 pages, while the new one runs to 18 pages! Completing the I-485 is therefore a longer time commitment.