If you are an immigrant in the United States, do not be anxious if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has scheduled you for an employment-based or marriage-based I-485 interview. An I-485 interview is usually the last step in the green card application process, and a Columbus green card attorney can help.

If your I-485 interview goes well, you will become a green card holder – that is, a lawful permanent resident of the United States – at the conclusion of the interview or soon thereafter.

How is an I-485 interview conducted? What happens during the interview? What is the best way to prepare yourself for an I-485 interview? Keep reading – you’re going to learn the answers to those questions and more.

WHO CAN HELP YOU PREPARE FOR AN I-485 INTERVIEW?

However, the most important thing to remember about an I-485 interview – or about any other immigration matter – is that you must have the advice and insights of an experienced immigration attorney for virtually any immigration procedure.

immigration attorney

Your attorney can prepare you for an I-485 interview and will tell you specifically what you need to be aware of going into the interview.

For many green card applicants, an I-485 interview is a standard part of the green card process.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO HAVE AN I-485 INTERVIEW?

It is certain that you will have an I-485 interview if you are seeking a green card based on employment, and it is almost certain that you will be scheduled for an I-485 interview if you are seeking a green card based on marriage.

Employment-based green card interviews became mandatory in March 2017 as the result of an executive order issued by the Trump Administration.

That executive order requires anyone who files for an employment-based adjustment of status on or after March 6, 2017, to be interviewed in-person by USCIS. Derivative family members also must attend the interview.

WHAT HAPPENS IN AN I-485 INTERVIEW?

At an employment-based I-485 interview, an immigration officer will review an immigrant’s job description as it is described on the immigrant’s original Form I-140. If the immigrant no longer works at the same job, he or she will have to explain why.

job description for green card

Immigration officials also scrutinize the immigrant’s income taxes to determine if he or she has been employed in the U.S. without authorization. Unauthorized employment almost always results in the denial of a green card.

When an adjustment of status is based on a national interest waiver, the immigration officer conducting the I-485 interview will need to know if the applicant has remained in compliance with his or her original Form I-140 and has not engaged in fraud to obtain immigration benefits.

WHAT SHOULD YOU TAKE TO AN I-485 INTERVIEW?

For a marriage-based I-485 interview, both partners are expected to attend the interview. USCIS does not require employers to attend interviews for employment-based I-485 applications. You will need to take the following items with you to an I-485 interview:

  • A government-issued photo ID. This may be a passport or any government-issued photo ID such as your driver’s license.
  • A copy of your adjustment of status application package, including Form I-485 and any related forms that you may have submitted. (Always keep a copy of anything you send to USCIS).
  • Originals of the legal documents that you submitted to USCIS to support your adjustment of status application – such as birth and marriage certificates and any divorce decrees.
  • Your passport (except for categories like refugee or asylum seeker) and other documents regarding travel (such as an advance parole permit if you have obtained one).
  • A doctor’s report based on your requisite medical examination if you did not include the report with your original application for adjustment of status.
  • If you are applying for a green card based on your employment, a current letter from the employer that verifies your continued employment at a particular salary.
  • If you are applying for a green card based on your marriage, bring copies and original documents demonstrating your lives together: a joint mortgage or lease, joint credit card or bank statements, the birth certificates of your children, and similar documents.

HOW LONG WILL AN I-485 INTERVIEW LAST?

An I-485 interview usually takes about twenty-five minutes. Your interviewer will ask about your application for adjustment of status and may ask you to explain some of your answers. If you’ve answered the questions on Form I-485 completely and honestly, you’ll have no problem.

woman being interviewed for green card

The questions at an I-485 interview for an employment-based adjustment of status are more-or-less standard questions. For a marriage-based adjustment of status, the questions are different.

FOR A MARRIAGE-BASED ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS, WHAT WILL BE ASKED?

If you apply for an adjustment of status based on marriage, the questions may be more personal, because USCIS has to confirm that a marriage is legitimate and that there is no marriage fraud. In an I-485 interview for a marriage-based adjustment of status, you will probably be asked:

  • How, where, and when did you first meet your partner?
  • Where was your partner employed when you first met?
  • How much does your partner earn?
  • Did your partner own an automobile when you first met? Can you describe it?
  • When were you married?
  • Who pays the mortgage or rent?

USCIS may ask a variety of questions to determine if you and your partner have a legitimate marriage.

HOW WILL YOU BE INFORMED OF A DECISION?

If all goes well with your I-485 interview, USCIS may approve your adjustment of status on the spot. In other cases, however, there will be no decision immediately after the interview, and you will be sent a final decision by mail. There is no reason for this to make you anxious. It’s typical.

i-485 paperwork

In some cases, you may be asked to send additional information to USCIS. If this happens to you, make certain that you meet any deadlines. If ninety days pass after an I-485 interview and you have not received a decision, contact USCIS to schedule an appointment.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT AN IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM IN OHIO?

Seek help from an experienced Columbus immigration attorney whenever you are dealing with an immigration matter or with the immigration authorities. What you have just read is a general look at I-485 interviews, but every situation is unique. You need personalized advice.

It does not matter who you are, where you are from, or what you have done. A good immigration lawyer’s help is your right, and in fact, your future in the United States could depend on it.