Documents to Gather in Anticipation of I-485 Filing

With the forward movement of the employment-based, second preference (EB2) cutoff dates, which primarily benefit individuals born in India and China, many people are anxiously awaiting the day when they will be able to file their applications to adjust status to permanent residence (Form I-485). For most, the wait is long. This period of waiting can be gainfully used to gather the required documents and information. Following are suggestions for MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers to advance the preparation of their adjustment-of-status packages for filing.

Translations / Certification of Translator

Many non-U.S. documents are in a language other than English. These must be accompanied by certified translations that meet certain U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) standards. The translations do not have to come from official government sources, but should be complete and accurate and state that the translator is qualified to translate from the foreign language to English.

Proper, Complete Birth Records Must Be Submitted

The I-485 must be accompanied by supporting birth records. For some, this is simply a birth certificate. However, non-U.S. birth certificates may pose a variety of problems. If one’s birth was registered, but the certificate was never obtained or it was lost, it is necessary to request that document through the appropriate governmental authority in one’s country of birth. This does not mean re-registering; it simply means requesting an official copy of the birth record.

If the birth was registered, it is necessary to check the document for problem areas. Typical problems include late registrations (a year or more after the date of birth), missing information (including the name of the child), and errors in the information, blanks left for the name of a parent, misspellings, and other inaccuracies.

Secondary Evidence Required in Certain Situations

If a birth was registered late, or the document is incomplete or has errors, it is necessary to supplement that document with other, secondary evidence. Secondary evidence can include a variety of official documents, such as school records, religious records, estate documents, hospital records, military or other government documents, and affidavits from appropriate individuals.

Non-Availability Certificate Required if Birth Not Registered

If a birth was not registered, it is generally necessary to obtain a non-availability certificate from the government office that would have the record, if it existed. This must be supplemented by the secondary evidence establishing the date and place of birth, and parentage of the I-485 applicant. There are some countries that were without a system for recording births during certain timeframes, or where the records were destroyed due to fire, flood, or other disaster. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) maintains information on document availability. If there is uniform DOS recognition of non-availability of a record, then it would not be necessary to obtain and provide the USCIS with the non-availability certificate.

Valid Marriage Records Must Be Submitted

If one is filing the I-485 as a derivative beneficiary of his/her spouse’s case, it is necessary to provide proof of the marriage. This is typically a marriage certificate. If there were prior marriages, it is necessary to provide proof of termination of those marriages (by death or divorce). Thus, it is important to register one’s marriage (if such a registration process exists), even if such registration is not required in the country where the marriage was solemnized.

If the marriage was late-registered or the certificate contains incomplete information, it is necessary to provide secondary evidence of the marriage. This typically is in the form of affidavits from wedding guests, the priest or other officiant who conducted the wedding, and any other available proof.

Proof of Lawful Status Must Be Established

In order to file the I-485 in an employment-based (EB) case, it generally is necessary to establish that one is in status at the time of filing. It is also necessary to show that status has been maintained since the applicant was last admitted to the United States, and that s/he has not worked without authorization. Thus, adjustment applicants should gather their approval notices for nonimmigrant status, like H1B, H-4, F-1, and their I-94 cards, and any other documents establishing maintenance of lawful status. It is important to be able to document that any employment was pursuant to appropriate authorization.

For some, the review of immigration history will reveal certain lapses and problems. Fortunately, there is an exception in EB cases that allows the USCIS to forgive and overlook up to 180 days of status violations. This was reported to readers in our October 7, 2011 NewsBrief, Green Card Possible After Status Violation: 245(k) Benefit, available on MurthyDotCom. For many people who discover inadvertent status violations when preparing for the I-485 filing, the 245(k) provisions are enough to cover the timeframe and allow for the filing of the I-485.

Some people have difficulty reconstructing their address and employment history. Form G-325 (filed as a part of the I-485 package) requires listing one’s current and previous addresses and employment for the past five years. Applicants may need to check their records to accurately record when they moved from one address to another and when they changed jobs. Any gaps in the information provided will likely trigger a request for evidence (RFE). Such an RFE could result in a denial of the I-485, unless the discrepancies can be resolved to the satisfaction of the USCIS examiner.

Medical Vaccinations

Each I-485 applicant must undergo an immigration medical examination with a civil surgeon. This includes various vaccinations. In order to avoid unnecessary inoculation, it is best to obtain copies of one’s vaccination records for the civil surgeon.


It is unfortunate that many people wait for years for their priority dates to become current, only to find out that they need a document from abroad. Some documents can take several months or even years to obtain. Advance planning, therefore, saves time, money, and provides peace of mind.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.