If you are an immigrant who has been living in the United States for a period of time, you may be interested in applying for permanent legal residence. This process may appear particularly complicated if you are in the midst of removal (deportation) proceedings after the federal government has issued to you a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge. Fortunately, there is a specific form you can complete to become a permanent resident during these proceedings.
Filing An I-485 Form
An I-485 Form is used to either register for permanent residence in the U.S. or to adjust to permanent resident status (i.e. obtaining a green card) by filing with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Depending on your unique circumstances as an immigrant, you may need to complete other forms as well. If you are obtaining residency via a family member who is already a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, you will also need to fill out Form I-130. However, you may only apply for permanent residence or adjust your status if you have met the following six requirements:
Applicant Must Have Lawful Entry to the U.S.
The main requirement for filing an I-485 form is that the applicant must have legal entry into the U.S. In other words, you must have been authorized to come into the country and were inspected and admitted at the border, unless you are covered under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Section 245(i) of the INA also states that the U.S. Attorney General may accept an application for permanent residence if the immigrant was the beneficiary of a prior petition filed on his or her behalf prior to April 30, 2001, and sends a sum of $1,000 with the application as of the date of its receipt.
Immigrant Is Not Subject To Any Bars
In addition to gaining lawful entry, you must also not be subject to any bars from entering the U.S. Such bars, also known as “grounds of inadmissibility,” include having a severe and communicable disease and criminal acts including drug abuse, spying, prostitution and acts of terrorism. If you are found to be inadmissible, however, you may still be able to adjust your status if you also qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.
Visa Petition Is Approved
The body that approves your visa petition is USCIS. Your relative who lives in the U.S. files this petition and typically needs to provide accompanying documents such as a birth or marriage certificate and proof of permanent residence or citizenship. This approved petition will serve as the basis for your adjustment of status application.
Visa Number Is Available
In addition to an approved visa petition, you must also have an immediately available visa number or priority date. The amount of time you need to wait for your priority date to become current depends in part on the family visa preferences categories. If the visa petition was filed by a U.S. citizen spouse, a U.S. citizen child over 21, or a U.S. citizen parent for a child under 21, then there is no additional wait time.
Applicant Holds No Violations
The final requirement for applying for permanent residence or adjusting your status dictates that you must have no immigration violations. These include committing crimes and working without proper authorization.
Exceptions and special rules exist for each of these requirements. For more details on these exceptions, contact an attorney.
Work With The Experienced Removal Proceedings Attorneys
Speak to the experienced immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi P.C. in Vienna, Virginia for more information on how to file Form I-485 while in removal proceedings. We are dedicated to serving clients in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. areas. We are not afraid to take on even the most complex cases.
At Johnson & Masumi, we are highly knowledgeable about the process of applying for both employment-based and family-based green cards as a way to obtain legal permanent resident status. We can also provide guidance on other ways to obtain a green card (e.g. the Green Card Lottery and green cards for political asylum and refuge). We also provide experienced removal and deportation defense services to both legal and undocumented immigrants. We know that in order to establish a burden of proof, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must provide clear and convincing evidence that you are removable.