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I-485 Filing Pilot Program

by Gregory Siskind

I'm starting to conclude that Eduardo Aguirre is a different kind of INS/USCIS director. In the past, USCIS directors apologized for poor processing times, made lofty promises about improvements and then presided over slower and slower service.

Certainly, as in the past, Aguirre and the Administration have promised improved times. In fact, a six-month turnaround time on all applications is the specific promise. But will the agency deliver? The first hint that the USCIS is really serious about delivering on this promise was delivered this week with the announcement of a new program to complete processing of adjustment applications at the Dallas USCIS District Office within 90 days. This, of course, is lightning fast compared to the years it takes to process these applications elsewhere. So fast is this time that it wonít even be necessary to issue Employment Authorization Documents or Advance Parole travel documents since these are designed to make life easier when applications drag on.

Everyone wins here. The USCIS wins because it will cut the overall workload it handles by not having to handle work and travel documents. And, of course, the customer receives expeditious service. Letís hope this pilot program is successful and is quickly extended nationwide. This week we cover the pilot program in our ABCs of Immigration article. The Dallas District of USCIS has announced that on May 3, 2004, it will launch a pilot project to determine whether adjustment of status applications (using Form I-485) can be adjudicated within 90 days.

The pilot program will track different aspects of the adjudication process to determine its strengths and weaknesses. NOTE: Acceptance into the pilot program does not mean that your application has been approved. Applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements for permanent residency. If your case cannot be completed within ninety days, you will be sent further instructions.

Who qualifies for the program?

All family-based applicants, Diversity Visa lottery winners, Special Immigrant Juveniles and any other Special Immigrants with an approved Form I-360 may qualify for the program.

How do I apply for the program?

The following documents are needed to apply for the program:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with supporting documentation
  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with supporting documentation for family-based applicants
  • State Department notification for Diversity Lottery recipients with supporting documentation
  • Medical exam (Form I-693) and Supplemental Form (I-693A)
  • Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) for family-based applicants and supporting documentation
  • 2 photographs
  • Form I-129F approval notice, if applicable
As each form requires specific supporting documentation, you should review the individual forms to see what needs to be included. Additionally, your interview notice will include a list of the specific documents you need to bring with you. You MUST have all of the required documents in order to be interviewed. NOTE: You should being in originals and photocopies of all documents as original documents will not be returned if there are no copies.

Where can I find the forms?

All forms can be found online at, except for the medical exam forms, which are provided by the doctor who conducts the examination. Which doctors are authorized to conduct medical exams for immigration purposes? A list of approved physicians for the Dallas District is available at

How does one get an interview appointment?

All appointments will be scheduled through INFOPASS, the new online appointment request system currently in use in the Miami office. Applicants will receive electronic appointment notices, which must be brought to the USCIS office located at 3010 North Stemmons Freeway in Dallas, Texas. Both the applicant and petitioner (if family-based) must report to the USCIS office no earlier than thirty minutes prior to the appointment time.

What will occur during the interview?

If all the required documents have been brought, the case will be forwarded to a district adjudications officer who will conduct the interview.

If the officer sees that a case cannot be completed within ninety days, he or she will provide instructions for filing for employment and travel authorization. If all required documents have not been brought to the interview, the applicant will have several options for rescheduling the interview.

What happens after the interview?

Once the interview is complete, the case will be sent to the National Benefits Center (NBC) in Missouri for processing. The NBC will assign a case number (or ďAĒ number) to the applicant. The NBC will send instructions to schedule a fingerprinting appointment.

Where does one get their fingerprints taken?

There are four Applications Support Centers in the Dallas district. To find the support center nearest you, go to

Please ensure that you have the Form I-797 fingerprint notice and two forms of identification when you go to your fingerprint appointment.

When does one become a Lawful Permanent Resident?

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements, including the security checks, you will be sent an approval notice to your e-mail of home mailing address on or after the 70th day of your interview.

The notice will instruct you to come to the district office to have your valid passport stamped until your permanent resident card arrives via mail.

What happens if a case is not completed within ninety days?

If your case is not completed by the 70th day after your interview, you will be sent a notice to you email or mailing address stating that you have the option of filing for employment and/or travel authorization. The notice will also include an appointment date and time to process the employment and/or travel applications. If the district office cannot complete the case be the appointment date, the applicant will receive an approval notice or a stamp in a valid passport as proof of permanent residence.

About The Author

Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

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