Adjustment of Status
An employee may apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status by filing a Form I-485 application for adjustment of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) once his/her priority date is current and if he/she is in a valid, qualifying nonimmigrant status in the U.S.
How to obtain Form I-485 & related forms
Preparing Form I-485 application
Concurrently filing Form I-485 with Form I-140
Employment while Form I-485 is pending
Traveling abroad while Form I-485 is pending
USCIS approval & updating UH records
How to obtain Form I-485 & related forms [top]
Form I-485 adjustment of status application packets are available at:
Preparing Form I-485 application [top]
The I-485 application is the employee’s responsibility. The employee may decide to prepare the application himself/herself or hire a lawyer to assist him/her. Due to restrictions on the practice of law and limited staffing and resources, FSIS can only provide limited assistance with the I-485 application. We can answer basic questions about the forms, but we cannot complete the forms for employees and their families nor can we advise individuals on how to answer certain questions on the forms.
If an employee has dependents in the U.S. who are not U.S. citizens or US lawful permanent residents, each dependent must file his/her own I-485 application.
Employees who decide to file Form I-485 without a lawyer’s assistance must carefully review the I-485 instructions to ensure they enclose all necessary items with the I-485 (medical exam form, Form G-325A, photos, copies of birth certificates, etc.).
USCIS Mailing Addresses
Concurrently filing Form I-485 with Form I-140 [top]
If an employee’s priority date is current at the time UH is ready to file the Form I-140 immigrant petition with USCIS, the employee may choose to concurrently file his/her (and any dependent family member’s) I-485 application(s) with the I-140. The employee should check the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, which is updated monthly, to see whether his/her priority date is current.
Employment while Form I-485 is pending [top]
H-1B employees who have filed Form I-485 may continue to maintain H-1B status while the I-485 is pending. H-1Bs and their H-4 dependents can obtain extensions of the H statuses. Although the maximum duration of H-1B status is generally 6 years, H-1B extensions beyond the 6-year maximum are possible:
- In 1-year increments if:
- The H-1B employee is the beneficiary of an I-140 petition or an I-485 application AND
- At least 365 days have passed since a permanent labor certification application (Form ETA 9089) or an I-140 immigrant petition has been filed on his/her behalf.
- In up to 3-year increments if:
- The H-1B employee is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition AND
- He/She is unable to file an I-485 because his/her priority date is not yet current (i.e. immigrant visas are unavailable due to per-country limits).
H-1B employment is limited to the employer(s) who filed and received approval of an H-1B petition. If an H-1B employee is offered additional employment by another U.S. employer, that employer must file a petition for concurrent H-1B employment on the employee’s behalf OR the employee must first obtain approval of a Form I-765 application for work authorization (see below) before he/she can begin working for the other employer.
I-765 work authorization
An employee or dependent family member can file a Form I-765 application for employment authorization with or after the filing of his/her I-485 application. Unlike H-1B authorization, this type of work authorization is unrestricted and can be extended as long as the I-485 is still pending. Once an employee receives approval of the I-765, he/she can use this authorization to accept employment with other (non-H-1B) employers or to continue UH employment after H-1B authorization expires.
It is important for H-1B employees and H-4 dependents to be aware that if they begin working for an employer using I-765 authorization, they will lose their H status. In that case, they can stay in the U.S. as adjustment applicants while the I-485 is pending and continue working as long as they maintain valid I-765 work authorization.
It is also important to note that if an I-485 applicant intends to use I-765 work authorization rather than maintain H status, it is always a good idea for him/her to apply for advance parole to travel abroad along with an I-765 application. For more details, see “Traveling abroad while Form I-485 is pending” (below).
If the I-485 is denied:
- An H-1B employee who only worked for an H-1B employer and who otherwise maintained H-1B status could retain his/her H-1B status as long as it remains valid.
- An employee who did not maintain H-1B status (e.g. he/she worked for a different, non-H-1B employer using I-765 work authorization while the I-485 was pending) would no longer be in lawful status and would be subject to removal from the U.S.
- An H-4 dependent who did not maintain H-4 status (e.g. he/she worked using I-765 authorization while his/her I-485 was pending) would no longer be in lawful status and would be subject to removal from the U.S.
Traveling abroad while Form I-485 is pending [top]
If an I-485 applicant has been maintaining H-1B or H-4 status, he/she can travel abroad and reenter the U.S. without abandoning his/her I-485 application if:
- Upon returning to the U.S., he/she remains eligible for H status;
- The H-1B holder is returning to resume employment with the same H-1B employer;
- He/She has a valid H-1B/H-4 visa and valid H-1B approval notice; AND
- He/She has all other required items for reentry in H status.
If the above conditions are met, an H-1B/H-4 traveler does not need to obtain advance parole (see below) before departing the U.S.
If an individual has filed an I-485 and is no longer maintaining valid H status, he/she must file a Form I-131 application for advance parole with USCIS and receive approval of the I-131 before he/she leaves the U.S. If an I-485 applicant leaves the U.S. without first receiving approval of an I-131 from USCIS, his/her I-485 application will be automatically canceled. It will also be difficult for him/her to reenter the U.S. if he/she does not have advance permission to reenter.
USCIS can take up to 3 months to approve an I-131 application. It is therefore best to plan ahead for any situations that might require the individual to travel on short notice.
Note: If an individual enters using advance parole and he/she does not have valid H-1B authorization, he/she must have valid I-765 employment authorization to continue/begin working in the U.S. Therefore, it is a good idea for such individuals to apply for I-765 work authorization along with an application for advance parole to ensure they can resume employment immediately upon reentry.
USCIS approval & updating UH records [top]
USCIS will send the employee (and his/her family members, if applicable) a "Welcome Notice" when it approves the I-485 application(s). Each applicant's Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card") will follow in the mail.
Temporary evidence of LPR status
an LPR receives his/her I-485 approval notice ("welcome notice") but
before he/she receives the Permanent Resident Card (a.k.a. “green
card”) from USCIS, he/she can obtain an I-551 stamp as temporary
evidence of LPR status for employment authorization purposes and to
travel abroad. To obtain the I-551 stamp, he/she should make an appointment online with the USCIS Honolulu District Office.
Update UH records
After an employee receives his/her I-485 approval notice and Permanent Resident Card, he/she should send copies of both sides of each item to his/her UH personnel officer and to FSIS. These documents are required to properly record an employee’s immigration status in the UH personnel system and to close his/her immigration file.
FSIS does not keep immigration files indefinitely, so employees should keep their own copies of their immigration documents.