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Important Changes In Widely Used I-485 Adjustment Of Status To Permanent Residence Form And Procedure

by Alan Lee, Esq.

The I-485 adjustment of status form is undergoing changes which must be noted because of its widespread use and because failure to adhere to the new procedures could cause filings to be rejected that in some cases could cause applicants to fall out of legal status.

In looking at the instructions, family based I-485's (based on form I-130) along with several other categories (lottery winners, public interest parolees, former diplomats, private bill beneficiaries, and applicants under registry or Cuban Adjustment Act) will continue to be mailed to the Chicago lockbox at the following addresses:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

P.O. Box 805887
Chicago, IL 60680-4120

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

131 S. Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

However, employment based I-485's in which the underlying I-140 petition has either been approved or is pending will no longer be submitted to the Service Centers in Mesquite, TX, or Lincoln, NE. They must now be submitted to lockboxes in Dallas/Lewisville or Phoenix dependent upon jurisdiction. These cases that were formerly submitted to the Texas Service Center at Mesquite, Texas (Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia) are now to be submitted to the following addresses:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

Attn: AOS
2501 S State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

All I-485's in which the I-140 petition was either approved or is pending which were formerly submitted to the Nebraska Service Center in Lincoln, NE. (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands) are now to be submitted to the following addresses:

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

U.S.C.I.S. will forward incorrectly addressed I-485 applications until March 29, 2010, after which the Service Centers will return incorrectly filed I-485's with instructions to send the applications to the correct locations.

On the other hand, employment based I-485's which are being filed concurrently with I-140 petitions should not be sent to the lockboxes, but directly to the Service Centers in Mesquite and Lincoln as before at the following addresses following the same state jurisdictional breakdowns as above outlined:

Texas Service Center:
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

Texas Service Center
P.O. Box 852135
Mesquite, Texas 75185

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

Texas Service Center
4141 North ST. Augustine Rd.
Dallas, TX 75227

Nebraska Service Center:
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87485
Lincoln, NE. 68501-7485

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

Nebraska Service Center
850 S. Street
Lincoln, NE 68508-1225

The lockboxes in Dallas/Lewisville and Phoenix will also be the repository for asylum based I-485 applications; refugee based I-485's; HRIFA dependent I-485's; investor I-485's based upon an approved I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur; and I-360 Petitions for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant as an international organization employee/eligible family member or religious worker regardless of whether concurrently filed or with approved I-360; or with approved I-360 for Panama Canal Company employment, U.S. government in Canal Zone employment, special immigrant physician, or international broadcaster.

In addition to change of address for certain employment based I-485's, the I-485 form itself has changed, and the revision dated 12/3/09 is the only edition acceptable for filing. U.S.C.I.S. is allowing a transitional period up to March 29, 2010, during which it will accept prior versions of the form, but after that, any previous versions of the form that are submitted will be rejected.

Rejection of or return of Form I-485 is more than a matter of inconvenience where applicants are nearing the end of their period of legal stay in the States. Becoming illegal through ignorance of the new procedures could readily become a source of great headache and extreme hardship to applicants.

In terms of actual changes to the form, Part 3, Questions 14-18 are quite explicit in the number of specific questions asked to ensure that undesirable individuals involved in persecuting others are discovered. Question 18's catchall, "Have you ever received any type of military, paramilitary, or weapons training?" can of course be answered in the positive by applicants who served in the military in their home country, but does provide U.S.C.I.S. with a basis for asking further questions if that country's military has engaged in human rights violations. The most important change in the form is the adding of a Part 5 attestation section. Now the applicant must check off that he/she can read and understand English and read and understood every question and instruction and answer, or if not able to read and understand English that everything was read to him or her in a language in which he/she is fluent by an interpreter. The interpreter must then give an attestation that he/she is fluent in English and the foreign language, and read every question and instruction as well as answer to the applicant in the foreign language.

The move to lockboxes to accept initial filings is a large part of USCIS' strategy to centralize its fee receipt system and reduce costs. To applicants, a benefit of using the lockboxes is the ability to obtain expedited notification that the case has been accepted for processing which can be helpful in relieving anxieties associated with approaching the limits of present non-immigrant status or, if in student status, trying to decide whether to save costs by not registering for the next schooling session. Such notification can be received through filing of an additional form, G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, and attaching it to the first page of the application.

As the I-485 is one the most commonly used forms and mistakes in using the correct edition or address after March 29, 2010, may have heavy consequences, care should be taken by readers to submit the correct form to the correct address.

This article 2010 Alan Lee, Esq.

About The Author

Alan Lee, Esq. The author is a 30+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.