USCIS Form I-485 Interview, How to Prepare

USCIS Form I-485 Interview

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What is USCIS Form I-485 Interview?

Form I-485 is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This immigration form is used by individuals in the U.S. to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence). 

The Form I-485 interview is a crucial part of the green card application process.

After filing Form I-485, applicants are typically required to attend an in-person interview at a local USCIS office. 

The purpose of the interview is to allow immigration officers to:

  • Verify the information provided in the application
  • Assess the eligibility of the applicant, and 
  • Ensure that there are no issues that would disqualify the individual from obtaining permanent residence.

During the interview, the USCIS officer may ask the following questions:

  • Applicant’s background
  • Immigration history
  • Family relationships
  • Employment, and other relevant details. 

The officer may also review supporting documentation provided by the applicant. 

Additionally, the officer may inquire about the bona fides of the marriage (if the application is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident).

Who needs to attend an USCIS Form I-485 interview?

Not all applicants for adjustment of status through Form I-485 are required to attend an interview. 

The decision on whether an interview is needed depends on various factors, including the type of green card application and the individual circumstances of the applicant. 

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Family-Based Applications:
      • Spouses of U.S. Citizens and permanent residents: Generally, both the petitioner (U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse) and the beneficiary (foreign national spouse) are required to attend the interview.
      • Other Family Members: Both the petitioner and the beneficiary may be required to attend the interview.
  • Employment-Based Applications:
      • Employment-Based Categories: In many employment-based green card cases, the applicant needs to attend the interview.
  • Other Categories:
    • Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Winners: DV lottery winners are typically required to attend an interview.

Interviews may be waived in the following family cases:

It’s important to note that USCIS has the discretion to request or waive an interview for any I-485 application. 

What documents do I need to bring to my USCIS Form I-485 interview?

The specific documents you need to bring to the USCIS interview may vary based on your individual circumstances and the category under which you are applying. 

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsoring a family member is called a “Petitioner”.

The family member applying for a green card is called a “Beneficiary”.

However, here is a general list of original documents you need to bring:

  • Interview Appointment Notice
  • Government-Issued Photo Identification:
    • Passport
    • Driver’s license
  • Any immigration status documents:
    • Employment Authorization Card (EAD) – if you have been issued one
    • Advance Parole Document (if you have been issued one)
    • I-797C notices of approval (for example, your previous nonimmigrant status of employment authorization document approval notices);
    • I-20 form(s);
    • DS-2019 form(s).
  • Beneficiary’s long-form (listing both parents’ names) birth certificate, plus English translation 
  • Petitioner’s birth certificate, plus English translation
  • At least one of the following documents:
    • Petitioner’s certificate of naturalization (if the petitioner is a naturalized US citizen)
    • Petitioner’s U.S. birth certificate (if the petitioner was born in the US)
    • Petitioner’s citizenship certificate (if the petitioner obtained citizenship through parents)
    • Petitioner’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad (if the petitioner was born abroad and obtained citizenship at birth through parents)
    • Green card (if the petitioner is a permanent resident)
  • Marriage certificate, plus English translation (if applicable)
  • Divorce decree for all prior marriages for you and your spouse (or annulment decrees/death certificates, if applicable)
  • Your parents marriage certificate (only if your application is based on child or stepchild relationship to the petitioner)
  • Divorce decree for all prior marriages for your parent and the petitioner or annulment decrees/death certificates, if applicable (only if your application is based on child or stepchild relationship to the petitioner)
  • Proof of bona fide marriage (only if your application is based on marriage to the petitioner)
  • Certified court disposition of ANY arrests or criminal charges
  • Certified court disposition of domestic violence arrests or criminal charges of the petitioner (if your application is based on marriage to the petitioner)
  • Updated Affidavit of Support (I-864) documents of petitioner and joint sponsor (if applicable):
    • Recent employment verification letter from the petitioner/joint sponsor’s employer or recent pay stubs
    • Most recent IRS tax return or IRS tax transcript for petitioner and/or joint sponsor
    • ALL W-2 and 1099 form(s) for the most recent year for petitioner and/or joint sponsor
  • Proof of Eligibility:
  • Medical Examination Results:
    • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, if not already submitted with your initial application.
  • Other Relevant Documents:
    • Any other documents that support your eligibility or address specific concerns raised by USCIS.

It’s important to note that the above list is a general guide, and the specific documents required may vary based on the circumstances of each case. 

Always check the interview notice for any additional documentation specific to your case. 

How to prepare for my USCIS Form I-485 interview?

Preparing for your USCIS Form I-485 interview is crucial to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. 

Here are some tips on preparing for the USCIS interview:

Tip 1. Always Tell the Truth:

  • Answer officer’s questions truthfully and accurately. Lying on the interview or providing false information by itself may make you ineligible for a green card.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, the most honest answer is to tell the officer that you do not know the answer or do not remember the answer.

Tip 2. Review Your Application:

  • Familiarize yourself with the information you provided in your Form I-485 application and any supporting documents. Ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • If you find a mistake on the application, the interview is the time to correct that mistake. Do NOT lie in the interview to match the mistaken information on your application. 

Tip 3. Gather Documents:

  • Collect all required documents for the interview. See the checklist of required documents provided above. Review the interview notice for the list of original documents you need to bring

Tip 4. Organize Your Documents:

  • Arrange your documents in a well-organized manner, making it easy for you and the USCIS officer to review. Use dividers or labels to separate different categories of documents.
  • Bring English translations of any documents in foreign languages
  • Bring one copy of each of your documents

Tip 5. Bring Your Medical Exam Form:

  • If you have not submitted Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record), make sure to bring a sealed medical form. USCIS typically sends a courtesy notice reminding you to bring the medical form to your interview. If you have already submitted your medical form, no action is required.

Tip 6. Dress Appropriately:

  • Dress in a manner that reflects the seriousness of the occasion. Business or business-casual attire is typically recommended. Do not wear a t-shirt, jeans, or shorts.

Tip 7. Be Punctual:

  • Arrive early for your interview. Being punctual demonstrates your respect for the process and the USCIS officer’s time.

Tip 8. Bring a Translator if Necessary:

  • If you are not fluent in English, you must bring a qualified interpreter who must be 18 years of age or older. Interpreter can accompany you in person to your interview or appear via phone

Tip 9. Listen very carefully:

  •  If you are not certain that you understand the officer’s question, do not answer the question. Tell the officer that you did not understand the question and ask them to repeat or explain the question.

Tip 10. Keep your answers short:

  • Only answer the questions that the USCIS officer asks 
  • You should not volunteer information that the USCIS officer did not ask for

Tip 11. Stay Calm and Confident:

  • The interview may be nerve-wracking, but try to stay calm and composed. Answer questions confidently and truthfully.

Tip 12. Bring an Attorney or Representative:

  • If you have an attorney or legal representative, consider having them accompany you to the interview. They can appear via phone

How to prepare for a marriage-based Form I-485 USCIS interview?

Learn how to prepare for a marriage-based USCIS interview: USCIS Marriage Interview, What to Expect and How to Prepare

How soon after the USCIS interview will my green card be approved?

The timeline for receiving a decision on your green card application (Form I-485) after the USCIS interview can vary. 

There is no fixed timeframe, and processing times can depend on various factors, including the complexity of your case, the USCIS office’s workload, and any additional administrative processes.

In some cases, applicants may receive an immediate decision at the conclusion of the interview. 

The USCIS officer may inform you whether your application is approved, denied, or if additional information/documentation is required.

However, in many instances, especially for cases that require additional administrative processing or further review, the decision may not be immediate. 

After the interview, your case may be pending while USCIS conducts background checks, verifies information, or addresses any outstanding issues.

It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3-4 months for the USCIS officer to make the final decision on your green card application.

It’s important to note that the timeline can vary from case to case, and individual circumstances may impact the processing time. 

Additionally, USCIS might issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they need more information before making a decision. Responding promptly to any RFE is crucial to avoid delays.

If a significant amount of time has passed after your interview, and you haven’t received a decision or any communication from USCIS, you may consider reaching out to the USCIS Customer Service Center or, if you have legal representation, consulting with your attorney for guidance.

In some cases, USCIS sends a Notice of Intent to Deny and you can get a chance to provide additional evidence to rebut it.

If the officer is going to deny your application, you will be provided with the reasons. 

There is no appeal of a denial, but some applicants are entitled to reapply before an immigration judge if they are placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.

You may also seek to challenge the denial by filing a motion to reopen or reconsider with USCIS.

Related Links:

USCIS Marriage Interview, What to Expect and How to Prepare