How to Prepare to File Your Employment-Based I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status: Possible Forward Movement of Priority Dates?
The State Department recently announced that there will be an additional 60,000 to 100,000 green cards allocated to the employment-based immigrant category for fiscal year 2021, which begins October 1, 2020. This has led to much speculation regarding forward movement of priority dates in the upcoming October visa bulletin, as well as what is involved in preparing and filing the I-485 adjustment of status application.
In this article, we are providing an overview of the documents and information needed to file an adjustment of status application for those whose I-140 immigrant petition is already approved or is being concurrently filed, and who would like to prepare in advance for the possibility of their priority date becoming current in October.
The following forms are typically prepared for all applicants (including dependent family members who will also be applying for adjustment of status):
- I-485 Application to Adjust Status.
- I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document – optional – provides work authorization based on the pending adjustment of status application, independent of a nonimmigrant visa.*
- I-131 Application for Advance Parole – optional – enables international travel while the adjustment of status application is pending, independent of a nonimmigrant visa.*
- I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency – the “public charge” form which requests information about your income, tax filings, assets, debts, and health insurance coverage.**
* The I-765 and I-131 applications may not be necessary if the applicants plan to maintain separate nonimmigrant status (such as H-1B and H-4) that will enable work and travel until the I-485 application is approved. For the past several years, the I-765 and I-131 applications have usually been submitted anyway as part of the adjustment of status package, because there was no additional filing fee for these forms if filed based on an I-485 application. However, starting October 2, 2020, USCIS is requiring separate filing fees for the adjustment-based I-765 and I-131 applications in the amounts of $550 and $590, respectively. Applicants may therefore want to consider if they still intend to file these optional applications.
** Whether the I-944 form needs to be included is undergoing review in federal court, and its position on the matter has changed multiple times this summer. Currently, our recommendation is to plan to file the I-944 to avoid a later Request for Evidence, but applicants should discuss their specific situation with their attorney.
In addition, the principal applicant (the beneficiary of the I-140 petition) must include Form I-485 Supplement J, if the I-140 petition is not being concurrently filed with the I-485 application. This is the only form that requires input and signatures by the employer confirming the job offer.
Applications for derivative applicants (spouse and children under 21 years old) must include the I-134 Affidavit of Support – this form is completed and signed by principal applicant, confirming that s/he has the means to financially support the derivative applicant(s).
The following documents are needed for all applicants (principal and derivative):
- Birth certificate (with English translation if necessary). If you do not have an official birth certificate, start as early as possible to obtain one from your country of birth, as this can be a lengthy process. If your country of birth cannot issue you a certificate, please review our article here for guidance on alternative forms of evidence.
- Copies of documents evidencing your immigration history: most recent I-94, I-797 approval notices, I-20 forms (if any), EAD cards (if any), all passports since initial entry into U.S.
- Copy of driver’s license, if any.
- Documentation of health insurance coverage.
- Six passport-sized photographs – taken within 30 days of filing.
- Medical exam in sealed envelope – the I-693 form must be dated no more than 60 days prior to the date the I-485 application is filed.
The following documents are also needed from the principal applicant and spouse (if any):
- Marriage certificate (if any).
- Copies of your 3 most recent pay statements, if you are currently employed.
- Copy of your most recent federal tax return.
- Copy of a recent credit report with credit score (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) generated within the past 12 months.
- Copies of your most recent monthly bank statements (checking & savings, if applicable).
- Copies of any documents related to other assets, such as stocks/bonds/CDs or real estate holdings, that show the value of the asset.
- Copies of any documents related to liabilities/debts, including: credit card statement, mortgage statement, car loans, student loans, tax liens, personal loans, etc.
While potential applicants can begin gathering these documents in anticipation of filing the I-485 application, please note that obtaining them too early may result in their expiration (such as the medical exam, photos, credit report) if the priority date does not become current as expected, and additional expense may be needed to obtain more recent versions when the I-485 is eventually filed. We recommend discussing with an attorney concerning the likelihood of your filing the I-485 application this year, and any additional preparations needed by you and your family.
If you wish to schedule consultations with Rahul Reddy or Rebecca Chen you can send do so at this link.
By: Rahul Reddy and Rebecca Chen
Rahul is the founding partner of Reddy & Neumann P.C. His practice covers employment-based immigration, in which he represents corporate clients in far-ranging industries.
Rebecca is a partner and senior practice manager at Reddy & Neumann and represents clients in employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases. She advises clients throughout the visa application process, from initial filing, responding to various requests for evidence, and processing at overseas consulates.