I-485 Status Check: A Complete Guide [2022]

Understanding the Green Card Process

To get a green card, you use Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status. Form I-485 is sometimes referred to as a green card case or application.  Below is some helpful information on checking your I-485 case status.

But before explaining further, you’ll want to know some basics.

child

Understanding the Green Card Process

First, a quick summary of the green card process.

When you file for a green card, you’re asking to become a lawful permanent resident.  If you apply from inside the U.S., you’ll file with the immigration agency known as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).  (Outside the U.S. is referred to as immigrant visa processing.  We also provide an overview of the green card process outside the U.S. here)

Requesting a green card inside the U.S. is often referred to as “Adjustment of Status” or “AOS.”  To adjust your status, you’ll use Form I-485.

Often, there are delays that affect your AOS process.  For this reason, understanding how to do an I-485 status check is important.

Checking Your I-485 Case Status

I-485 Status Check Online.

If you filed for your green card with USCIS, you can do an I-485 status check online.  (If instead you filed a Form I-130, you’ll want to read more here.)

To check your I-485 case status online, you’ll need to find the Receipt Number for your I-485.  When you first filed the form, you should have received a document known as a Receipt Notice, I-797 Notice of Action.  On your Receipt Notice, you’ll find your Receipt Number, which is at the top left corner of the I-797 and is made up of three letters followed by 10 numbers. (Ex NBC1234567890).

Once you’ve located your receipt number, you can check your case status online using the USCIS online system.   Here are some possible things the system could tell you.

Possible information the online I-485 status check tells you about your case.

USCIS scheduled a biometrics appointment

The system may say that USCIS mailed you a fingerprint appointment notice, sometimes referred to as a biometrics appointment.

If so, you’ll need to make sure you got the notice in the mail, to find out when and where to go to give your fingerprints.  Immigration officials need your fingerprints to find out your immigration and criminal history.

USCIS sent a Request for Further Evidence

Another possible  result of your I-485 status check is that the government sent a request for additional information.  Immigration refers to this as a Request for Evidence (RFE).  Usually, an RFE has a deadline for responding.  If you don’t respond by the deadline, USCIS could deny your I-485. So if your green card case status check says an RFE was sent, make sure you received it.

USCIS transferred the case to another service center or a local office where you live.

Occasionally, your I-485 status check says that immigration transferred your case to a different USCIS service center.  Sometimes this happens when there is a backlog, and to speed things up they send your case somewhere else.  In this situation, all you can do is wait until the service center makes a decision on your case or sends it to a local field office.  If USCIS sent your case to the local field office, the agency may schedule you for an interview.  We’ve created a guide to help you prepare for a green card interview.

What Affects a I-485 Case Status?

Sometimes, the online system simply says “your case has been accepted” for processing.  The message will look like this:

If you mailed your I-485 a long time ago and the system still gives you this message, you’ll want to know why.  Well, the delay of your I-485 processing depends on several things.  To demonstrate, let’s look at some examples related to a family-based immigration case with USCIS.

The basis of your I-485 affects the processing.

Is your application based on a child-parent relationship?  Usually, green card applications based on child-parent relationships are faster.  The agency moves quickly because they often do not require an interview since the birth certificate establishes the child-parent relationship.  But if you base your case on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, processing is typically slower.  This is because USCIS almost always requests an interview for marriage-based cases.

The location of your filing affects processing times.

One other thing to keep in mind during a green card case status check.  The processing time depends on where you are applying. Meaning, that processing times for green card applications differ quite a bit by your city and state especially if USCIS wants to interview you.  For example, the processing times in Los Angeles, California will be far longer than in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

So if your green card case status check shows a delay, you should ask what is the basis of your application or where do I live.  Often that will explain a perceived delay.

What If the I-485 Status Check Shows a Delay?

Before you spend time (and money) taking steps to speed up a decision on your green card application, you should start by checking processing times.  If your case is within normal process times, there is not much you can do.  USCIS has provided average processing times to give you an idea if there’s truly a delay in your case.

If you do an I-485 status check and it’s processing slower than normal, then you should consider taking the steps below:

  • First, you’ll want to make a request online, called a USCIS case inquiry.  This sometimes helps cases by drawing attention to problems or delays on the part of the government. After you send the inquiry,  USCIS will then send you an email or letter telling you that an office received an I-485 case status request and by when you’ll get a response.  Beware,  USCIS often does not respond or update the case status by the date stated in the response.
  • If the online request does not help — it usually does not — you will want to escalate the situation by calling the USCIS phone hotline at 1-800-375-5283  When you call, have your Receipt Number ready and be able to explain that the I-485 status check shows the case is taking longer than it is supposed to.
  • Last, if you know USCIS immigration already sent your I-485 application to a local field office, then write a letter to that office asking for an update.  When you send the letter make sure to include all identifying information such as form type (I-485) and Receipt Number so USCIS will be able to locate your file.

For further information can also check out our article on fixing USCIS delays and our article on fixing delays in your green card case.

 

Related Topics

Need more helpful information? We've got you covered.

I-90 Form: How to Renew Your Green Card by Mail [2022]

The form I-90 is an application that is used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) when a green card holder needs to replace or renew his or her card. This page provides explanations of when to use the form, how to file it, where to file and the filing fees.

EB2 Green Card Overview: A Complete Guide [2022]

EB2 stands for "Employment-Based Second Preference Category." Learn everything you need to get an EB2 Green Card or EB2 Visa. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know for a basic understanding of the process.

How to Move Your Immigration Court

Moving your case to a different immigration court can be helpful. Learn how to transfer your case to a different city or state.

Master Hearing in Immigration Court

The master hearing is the first hearing before an immigration court. Learn more about what to expect from the immigration judge and how to prepare.

How to Cancel A Deportation Order

Do you have a removal order? Learn what how it will affect you and what you can do to cancel a deportation order.

Can A Deported Person Come Back Legally?

If you're deported from the United States, you can still fix your papers. Learn about the penalties for deportations, and how you can still get your papers.

Individual Hearing in Immigration Court

Individual hearings in immigration court are your last chance to fight a deportation. Learn what happens at a final hearing and how to prepare.

EB3 Visa: A Lawyer’s Guide

EB3 Visas are skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers. Learn if you qualify for an EB3 green card and how to apply.

EB1 Visa: A Lawyer’s Overview

EB1 green cards are for leaders in their fields. These visas are part of a larger class of green cards know as employment based visas. Learn about getting a green card through the EB1 visa category.

Work Permit: A Guide for Immigrants

Learn everything you need to know about getting a work permit in the U.S. Here, we discuss the process, qualifications and cost of a work permit in the U.S.

F1 Visa Work Options: A Complete Guide [2022]

International students on F1 visas often ask if they can work legally. F-1 students can learn more here about whether they can work and where.

Bring a Sibling to the USA: Sibling Green Cards

Learn how to bring your brother or sister to the USA. In this article, we discuss the process and the different relatives you can sponsor to come to the country.

Automatic Citizenship in the U.S.

Learn who can automatically become a United States citizen and how to apply. Here, we discuss how to directly qualify to become a U.S. citizen without having to wait.

The Conditional Green Card: 7 Things To Know

Immigration has issued you a two year temporary conditional green card. Find out the 7 most important things to know about conditional green cards. In the article, we'll discuss processing and complicated situations that may come up.

Green Card Interview: A Complete Guide [2022]

Being interviewed by an immigration officer can be stressful. Here you'll learn everything you need to be ready and pass your green card interview. After reading this article, you'll be more prepared for immigration's questions for you.

F1 to H1B: An Immigration Lawyer’s Thoughts

Learn here how F1 students can get their H1B visas, the difference between change of status and H1B consular processing, and how to handle F1 to H1B denials.

F1 To Green Card: A Complete Guide [2022]

International students often want a way to go from F1 to green card. Learn everything you need to know about how international students can become permanent residents.

DACA News: Helping Dreamers Stay Current

Get up to date information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for Dreamers. In this article, you'll find a description of the latest news and other explanations of the current state of the DACA program.

Public Charge Rule: Immigration’s New Rules

The Trump Administration has made it harder for immigrants to prove they financially qualify for a green card. Find out more about how to show you are not a public charge.

N400 Status: Checking Your Citizenship Process [2022]

If you filed an N400, you will need to stay on top of the status of your citizenship application. Find out how to check your N400 case status and more about the naturalization process. In this article, we'll review how to know when USCIS delays processing and what to do about it.

Asylum Case Status: A Complete Guide [2022]

If you are afraid to return to your home country, you may have filed a Form I-589, Application for Asylum. Learn how to check your asylum application status and what to expect throughout the process.

I-765 Case: What’s My Work Permit Status? [2022]

Confirming your I-765 case status is important. A lot depends on getting your work permit -- your job, your driver's license, and your social security card. Learn how to check the status of your work permit application.

Speeding Up Your Immigration Case With USCIS

If you have applied for an immigration benefit, you don't want to wait on USCIS any longer than necessary. Find out here how to speed up your case with USCIS.

USCIS Delays in Your Immigration Case

If you applied for a green card, citizenship, or other immigration benefit with USCIS, you may encounter delays in processing. These can be frustrating, but here are some common causes of delays and how to fix them.

USCIS Delays In Your Green Card Application (I-485)

Immigrants send tens of thousands of green card applications every year to USCIS. Often, you and others confront delays in USCIS making a decision on their green card application. While this can be frustrating, you can speed up the process by knowing the common causes of delays and how to fix them.

I-130 Status: Checking a Pending Petition [2022]

If you filed an I-130 Petition, then you are trying to get a green card through marriage or some other family relationship to a U.S. citizen or green cardholder. Once you filed the I-130, you will probably want to follow up to check the status of your case. Here's how.