Form I-485 is the primary application used by immigrants adjusting status (applying for lawful permanent residence—a green card) in the United States. It collects basic information about the applicant's identity and checks for grounds of inadmissibility.
The information on this form all refers to the person who will get the green card, which we will assume is you, the reader. This form does not ask for any information about your petitioner or financial sponsor.
Form I-485 is available for free download on the Form I-485 page of the USCIS website. This article discusses the version of the form dated 06/26/2017, expiring 06/30/2019.
Note: Our instructions below cover only some of the complicated questions regarding how to fill out the form itself. For broader information on whether you are eligible for a green card and the various steps involved in the application process, see How to Get a Green Card.
You can fill in Form I-485 on your computer, and that’s the best way to do it. If you need to fill it in by hand, print legibly and use black ink. Signatures must be by hand, in ink—do not type your name or use a stamp where it asks for a signature.
You might come across a question on the form that doesn’t apply to you, or for which the answer is "none." For example, Part 1 asks for your middle name, and you might not have one. In situations like these, just leave the box blank, rather than entering “none” or “N/A.” There are some questions on the form, however, where you should enter “none” in the box if that’s the appropriate answer. The form tells you where, so read the questions carefully.
If you need extra space to provide a complete answer to any question, write or type the information on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the end of the form. On every extra sheet, type or print your name and Alien Registration number (if you have one) at the top. Indicate the I-485 page number, part number, and item number to which the information refers. Sign and date each extra page at the bottom.
Here are tips on how to answer some of the less self-explanatory sections of this form.
Part 1. Information About You (Person applying for lawful permanent residence)
Use the name that appears on your passport, unless you have changed it since getting the passport. Also supply other names that might appear on any of your paperwork.
Give an address where USCIS can send mail to you. The "In Care Of" line is only for people who have asked others to receive mail for them—enter the name of the person who lives at the address if this is the case. Notice that there's an "Alternate and/or Safe Mailing Address" section option for people applying for a green card based on being in an abusive or dangerous situation.
For Place of Last Arrival into the United States, USCIS is looking for the place where you spoke to the CBP officer. (This would be the airport where you first landed, if you came by plane.) If you can’t remember, this information can be found by clicking the Get Travel History button on the I-94 website.
Date of Last Arrival into the United States refers to your most recent U.S. entry from abroad. You might find that date stamped in your passport.
Where it asks about your status when you last arrived, if you entered using a visa, such as F-1 (student) or B-2 (visitor for pleasure), you should enter the visa designation, if you know it, in the box below (for example, “F-1” or "B-2"). Otherwise, or if you have no visa, describe your status with a term like “student” or “visitor” or “asylee.”
Your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record Number (Question 23.a) was issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when you entered the United States, if you did so legally (except if you are a Canadian who came by car). If you came before April 30, 2013, you will probably find a white I-94 card stapled in your passport. If you came after April 30, 2013 by sea or by air, you were most likely not given an I-94 card. You’ll have to get your I-94 number online at CBP’s I-94 retrieval website. Have your passport number ready.
You'll need to provide the date your status in the U.S. will expire. This is almost always different from the date your visa expires, so don’t look at your visa for the answer to this question. You can find the date your status expires on your I-94. Some people, mostly students and exchange program visitors, have no exact expiration date—they are here for the “duration of status,” noted by “D/S” on the I-94. If this applies to you, enter “D/S” in the “Expires on” answer box.
Where Question 24 asks about "current immigration status," you could use a descriptive word (like “student” or “visitor”), or you can use a visa designation (like “H-1B”) if you know yours. If you’ve changed your status since the last time you entered the U.S., enter the status you have now. Or, if you have no legal status, indicate that by entering “overstay” if the expiration date on your visa or permitted stay has passed (in which case you may not be eligible to adjust status unless you are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen; see a lawyer to be sure), or “EWI” (entry without inspection) if you crossed the border illegally but somehow became eligible to use the adjustment of status procedure (unlikely; see a lawyer).
Part 2. Application Type or Filing Category
Put an “X” in the Question 1 box that applies to you. For example, you would choose box 1.a if you are applying through family and are either an immediate relative or a preference relative with a current Priority Date and a right to use the adjustment of status procedure; and box 1.b if an employer has petitioned for you.
In Question 2, it's doubtful that you are applying based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 245(i); that's only for people to whom some very old laws apply, allowing them to pay a penalty fee in order to adjust status despite their illegal entry to the United States.
In Question 3, the "underlying petition" is probably an I-130, I-140, I-360, I-526, or I-918, and you're looking for the receipt number that USCIS put on its I-797 approval notice. But if you're filing your petition at the same time as the I-485 (a few categories of people, such as spouses of U.S. citizens who entered the U.S. lawfully, are allowed to do this concurrent filing), leave this blank.
In Question 4, your "Priority Date" (if you're not in a category where visas were immediately available, such as immediate relative) will be a six-digit number from your USCIS approval notice, such as "160328." It indicates the year, month, and date when the petition was first filed on your behalf (or by you). And a "derivative applicant" is someone who didn't need a separate visa petition, but was named in, and is riding on, another person's petition (probably that of a parent or spouse). So this is where you explain who that person (the "principal applicant") is.
Part 3. Additional Information About You
Most of this part should be self-explanatory.
If you have applied for an immigrant visa (for permanent residency) at a U.S. consulate overseas any time in the past, check the “yes” box in Question 1. You'll then need to say where and when you applied, and what happened. The decision is either approved, denied, refused, or withdrawn (by you). There is no need to explain why this decision was made on this form.
Under "Address History," this is meant to supply information for background checks. Fill it out as completely as you can, and go to Part 14 of the form to enter any addresses that won't fit here. The question about "most recent address outside the United States (Question 8.b) is meant to cover situations where someone has lived in the U.S. for a number of years. If that doesn't describe you, you might be entering an address that you've already entered above here--that's okay.
Your "Employment History" is also required for background check purposes. Enter "None" in the first box if you haven't been working.
Part 4. Information About Your Parents
This asks for basic biographical information--again, for background check purposes.
Part 5. Information About Your Marital History
Next, you explain whether you are currently single, married, divorced, and so on, and list information about your current spouse, if any. This information, and that under "Information About Prior Marriages," is particularly important if you are immigrating to the U.S. based on marriage--USCIS wants to ascertain whether you are eligible or not (being married to two people at once is a problem).
Part 6. Information About Your Children
You will need to list all of your children (including adult children and stepchildren), even if they are not immigrating at this time. This is especially important if they wish to immigrate later, because failure to mention them will create doubt as to whether they exist at all.
Part 7. Biographic Information
For purposes of confirming your identity, you must choose an ethnicity and race, and supply other physical information.
Part 8. General Eligibility and Inadmissibility Grounds
This section is long, and covers every possible way that you could be "inadmissible" to the United States (meaning that, despite meeting the basic visa requirements, you aren't eligible for U.S. entry at all, due to past crimes, immigration violations, serious health or financial trouble, and so on.
A big part of the purpose of this section is to weed out terrorists. If you have been connected to an organization that has a violent wing or advocates violence, even if you were only in its nonviolent subgroup, consult a lawyer. Incidentally, you can also improve the USCIS officer’s opinion of you by listing organizations that you have volunteered with, such as religious organizations, to show that you are a moral person.
For most of the rest of the questions in Part 8, your answers are hopefully “no.” (Questions 24 is an exception; it's meant for J-1 visa holders who are seeking a way around the usual requirement that they spend two years outside the U.S. before returning.)
You have to disclose all arrests, even if the arrest was a mistake and you were never charged with a crime. You can ignore tickets you got while driving except if drugs or alcohol was involved, or your fine was over $500. You will have to provide documentation showing what happened with every arrest, charge, conviction, or sentence.
And while receiving public assistance isn't illegal, it may lead to your being found inadmissible as a "public charge." Again, consult with an attorney before submitting this application.
If the true answer to any of the questions regarding inadmissibility is "yes," do not lie (which is not only unethical, but could, if discovered, destroy any hope you have of immigrating to the U.S.). Instead, see a lawyer for a full analysis of the situation.
Part 9. Accommodations for Individuals With Disabilities and/or Impairments
If you need special accommodations for your interview because of a disability or impairment—such as a sign language interpreter or to have a caregiver allowed to accompany you to your green card interview—explain what you need in this section.
Part 10: Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature
This is where you, the applicant for the green card, sign. You'll also need to assure USCIS that you understand what you're signing and stand by the authenticity of the document copies you've submitted, and supply ways to reach you.
Part 11: Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
This is the place for your interpreter to sign, if you relied on an interpreter to answer the questions. If you don’t speak English well or at all, it’s best to get an interpreter (or a lawyer) to help you with the form and to sign. You don’t have to speak English to get your green card, but if you need an interpreter at your green card interview, the officer is probably not going to approve your application if you didn't have an interpreter sign it.
Part 12. Contact Information, Certification, and Signature of Person Preparing this Application, If Other Than the Applicant
If you filled out Form I-485 yourself, leave this part blank. Otherwise, this is where the lawyer or other person who filled out the form for you signs and provides his or her information.
Part 13. Signature at Interview
Leave this blank for now. You'll sign it when you meet with a USCIS officer for your green card interview.