Updated: Feb. 10, 2020
So you’ve mailed your green card application and are anxiously waiting for whatever comes next. What happens now?
After you submit the Form I-485, along with all the other required forms, there are still a few more steps to take before you become a permanent resident in the United States. This guide will help you understand each one of those steps.
Have not submitted your application yet? Here’s a guide on how to prepare your application.
1. Receipt of Application
Approximately 30 days after filing
Once USCIS has received your application, they should send you a receipt within 30 days.
If you attached a Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance along with your Form I-485, you will also receive a confirmation email or text message within 24 hours of your application being accepted.
Both the physical receipt and the e-receipt will have a receipt number on them. You can use this number to check your case status and see how far along your case is in the application process.
2. Biometrics Services Appointment Notice
Approximately 3-5 weeks after filing
After your I-485 is filed, you will receive a notice in the mail about your biometrics services appointment, which will be held at a local Application Support Center (ASC). The notice will tell you the date, time, and location of your appointment. At this appointment, you will provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature, which will be used to verify your identity and run background checks.
You should review your Form I-485 information before the biometrics appointment. Your signature at the biometrics appointment will indicate that your application was complete, true, and correct. When you go to your appointment, take with you:
- Your ASC appointment notice.
- Valid photo ID (such as a passport, driver’s license, or state-issued photo ID card).
- A translator if you cannot understand spoken English.
3. Interview Notice
Approximately 4-10 months after filing
You will probably be requested to appear at a USCIS office to answer questions about your Form I-485. You will receive a notice that will tell you when and where the interview will take place. Bring with you original:
- Official Travel Documents
- Form I-94
- Copy of your Form I-485
- All other originals of the documents that you submitted with your Form I-485, even if the documents are now expired.
It is best to appear at all USCIS appointments (including interviews and biometrics appointments) on the scheduled date. However, if you are sick, you can follow the instructions on your appointment notice to reschedule.
4. Receive Permanent Residence
Approximately 8-14 months after filing
After your interview, the USCIS will send you a written notice of their decision. If you are approved, you will receive your green card in the mail soon after. If your application is denied, the decision notice will explain why. It will also state whether you can appeal the decision or not. Even if it says that you cannot appeal the decision, you may still be able to file a motion to reconsider. To file an appeal or a motion you will use Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
Avoid leaving the United States while your application is pending.
If you plan to leave the US while your application is pending, even if it a short trip to Mexico or Canada, make sure that you have the right documentation to leave and re-enter the US. You will probably have to file Form-131 to obtain either an Advanced Parole Document or a refugee travel document. You will not need to file Form-131 if you are an H, L, V, or K3/K4 nonimmigrant who is maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status, and you return with a valid H, L, V, or K3/K4 nonimmigrant visa. If you leave the country without proper documentation, your Form I-485 may be denied, or you may not be able to lawfully re-enter the US.
Moving & changing your address.
If you move, it is important to promptly inform the USCIS so that you do not miss any mailed notifications about your application. Update your address with the USCIS within 10 days of moving. In most cases, you can do this online at the USCIS website.
Ask for help.
If you have questions or need help with any part of your application, please feel free to reach out to our support team. We’re here to help!