Applying for a green card, or Permanent Residence Card, is a significant first step to becoming a United States citizen. Possessing a green card allows individuals to lawfully live and work in the United States, but as of this year, applicants should be aware of some changes made to the application process – and what those changes might mean for you.

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced a redesign of the application form to apply for permanent residence. The new document, officially known as Form I-485, now has 18 pages and includes new questions on the background of applicants.

“The new Form I-485 and instructions have been substantially updated to reduce complexity after collecting comments from the public and stakeholders,” the USCIS said in a statement. “The revised version gives applicants better information to accurately complete Form I-485, including clear navigation to the parts of the form and instructions that are relevant to the applicants’ specific situations.”

Applicants will be required to use the revised form starting on August 25, 2017. The USCIS hopes these updates will increase the efficiency of the adjudication process by reducing errors and requests for evidence.

Here’s what changes you can expect to see on Form I-485, according to the USCIS press release:

  • Better flow and organization of questions to make it user-friendly for both the applicants and USCIS. In addition, readability has significantly improved due to new spacing, columns, flow, white space, and formatting.
  • The questions about biographic information (Form G-325A) so applicants will no longer need to file a separate form;
  • A list of 27 immigrant categories, which allows applicants to identify the specific immigrant category under which they are applying; and
  • A comprehensive, updated list of admissibility-related questions. The added questions to ensure USCIS officers have the necessary information to better assess the applicant’s admissibility and eligibility.

The USCIS also notes that, although Form I-485 and its instructions may look different from earlier versions, the process for filing Form I-485 and Form I-485 Supplement A and Form I-485 Supplement J remains the same. Applicants must still submit paper applications to the location listed in the form instructions.

The application process for a green card is a rewarding one, but it can also be cumbersome and costly for some individuals. As a result, experts like Miami immigration attorney Wilfredo Allen suggest that anyone undergoing the application process should consider seeking professional help to fill out the paperwork.

“Those who can be negatively affected by this process are those who do not take applications seriously and who do not fill out the form in an honest and correct way,” he said.

To learn more about taking the first step toward receiving a green card, contact one of our immigration specialists or visit the USCIS webpage on green cards at https://www.uscis.gov/greencard.

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