What Happens After I-485 Approval Notice: Next Steps and Procedures

Receiving an approval notice for Form I-485, which is the application to register permanent residence or adjust status, is a significant milestone in the immigration process in the United States. This approval signifies that an applicant has been granted permanent resident status, subject to receiving the physical Green Card. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sends a welcome notice followed by the Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as the Green Card, to the applicant’s registered address.

Upon approval, new permanent residents must be aware of the next steps. If they move before receiving their Green Card, they must update their address online with USCIS to avoid delays in receiving their card. In the interim, approved applicants may visit the local USCIS office to get their passport stamped with an I-551 stamp.

This stamp is temporary proof of the individual’s permanent resident status until the Green Card arrives.

It is important to note that with the approval of the I-485 and the conferring of permanent resident status, any temporary work permits or advance parole documents that the applicant may have possessed will no longer be valid. The Green Card will serve as the primary document for authorization of employment and travel in and out of the United States. Permanent residents should also be aware of the rights and responsibilities that come with this new status, as it entails both the privilege of residing permanently in the U.S. and the obligation to abide by its laws.

Adjustment of Status Process Completion

Once an individual’s I-485 Adjustment of Status petition is approved, the applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. The completion of this process involves several steps which are vital for the newly approved permanent resident to follow.

Passport Stamping: The beneficiaries should visit the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) local office to obtain a passport stamp. This I-551 stamp serves as temporary evidence of their LPR status.

Permanent Resident Card: The applicants will receive their Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a Green Card. This process may take a few weeks to several months after approval of the I-485.

Employment Authorization: Beneficiaries may provide their new Green Card or an unrestricted social security card to prove employment eligibility. An acceptable identity document, like a driver’s license, is also necessary to fulfill Form I-9 requirements.

Updating Social Security Records: It is recommended that new permanent residents go to the Social Security Administration to update their records. This ensures that their social security account accurately reflects their new status.

Document Purpose
I-551 Stamp Temporary proof of LPR status
Permanent Resident Card Official proof of LPR status
Social Security Card Proof of employment eligibility update
Driver’s License Additional identity document

Applicants must ensure that they follow these steps to solidify their status and maintain compliance with USCIS regulations post-approval.

Permanent Resident Status

After an individual’s I-485 Adjustment of Status application is approved, they are granted permanent resident status in the United States. This entitles them to a Permanent Resident Card, commonly referred to as a Green Card.

Issuance of the Green Card: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) first sends a welcome notice to new permanent residents. Subsequently, the physical Green Card is mailed to the address provided by the applicant.

  • Move or Address Changes: In the event that an individual moves before receiving their Green Card, it’s imperative to update the address online with USCIS or submit an e-Request to avoid delivery issues.
  • Temporary Proof of Status: Soon after approval, permanent residents may obtain a temporary I-551 stamp on their passport at the local USCIS office, providing proof of their permanent resident status until they receive their Green Card.

Responsibilities of New Permanent Residents:

  • Updating Personal Information: It is the responsibility of permanent residents to inform USCIS of changes, not only in address but also in personal circumstances that might affect their status.
  • Selective Service Registration: Male permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with the Selective Service System. Although this process is generally facilitated by USCIS, they advise following up with the Selective Service System to ensure completion.

Permanent resident status offers individuals the ability to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, with certain rights akin to U.S. citizens. However, it is critical for new permanent residents to maintain their status by adhering to established laws and guidelines as set forth by USCIS.

Receiving the Green Card

After an I-485 application is approved, the applicant will receive their Green Card, which serves as proof of lawful permanent resident status in the United States. The process involves two main steps: production and delivery.


Once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the Adjustment of Status (AOS) application, they begin the production of the physical Green Card. The production time can vary, but it generally takes a few days to several weeks for the card to be created. USCIS uses the address it has on file to mail the Green Card, so it is crucial for applicants to ensure their address with USCIS is current to avoid misdelivery.


The Green Card is mailed to the applicant after production is complete. Applicants can expect to receive their card typically within 30 to 90 days after receiving the approval notice. It’s recommended to keep an eye on the mail and be aware of any delivery notices, as the postal service may require a signature upon delivery. If the Green Card does not arrive within the expected time frame, the applicant may contact USCIS to submit an inquiry.

Social Security Number and Employment Authorization

Upon approval of the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, a foreign national gains lawful permanent resident status in the United States. They are then eligible to work without having to apply for a separate Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Social Security Number (SSN): Permanent residents must have a Social Security Number to work, pay taxes, and access other government services. If an individual did not request an SSN during the I-485 application process, they should contact a Social Security office to apply after receiving their Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551).

Employment Eligibility Verification: New permanent residents can present their Permanent Resident Card or an unrestricted Social Security card to employers as proof of employment eligibility, commonly verified through Form I-9.

  • Acceptable Documents for Employment Verification:
    • Permanent Resident Card (Green Card, Form I-551)
    • Unrestricted Social Security Card

It is important to note that employers may not require one to have a Social Security number before starting work. However, an individual must obtain one promptly as employers are required to report earnings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using an SSN.

In summary, following an I-485 approval, a resident has the right to work in the U.S. and should ensure they have a valid SSN. Their new status and SSN facilitate compliance with employment verification and tax obligations.

Rights and Responsibilities of Permanent Residents

Upon I-485 approval, permanent residents are granted a host of rights and essential responsibilities. They must navigate a framework of regulations while fulfilling obligations to maintain their status.

Travel Abroad

Permanent residents have the right to travel internationally and re-enter the United States with proper documentation. It is recommended to carry a valid Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) during travel. Prolonged absences from the U.S. may impact permanent resident status; hence, it’s crucial to understand the specifics of maintaining residency while traveling.

Work and Employment

Permanent residents are authorized to work in the United States. This authorization is both a right and a responsibility, providing the freedom to seek gainful employment while contributing to the U.S. economy. The Green Card serves as proof of the right to work, and residents may also apply for an unrestricted Social Security card.

Legal Rights and Protections

Individuals with permanent resident status are protected under U.S. laws at the federal, state, and local levels. They have the right to due process, equal protection under the law, and access to the courts. Responsibilities include obeying all laws, paying taxes duly, and supporting democratic governance. Failure to adhere to these legal obligations can have consequences for one’s residency status.

Maintaining Permanent Resident Status

After the approval of Form I-485 and becoming a lawful permanent resident, individuals must take specific steps to maintain their status within the United States.

Continuous Residency

To preserve permanent resident status, one must adhere to the continuous residency requirement. Continuous residency implies that the permanent resident should not leave the United States for an extended period. Generally, absences from the U.S. of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency and can impact eligibility for naturalization in the future.

Renewing the Green Card

Permanent residents must renew their Green Card every ten years. The renewal process involves filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. It is crucial to initiate the renewal process 6 months before the card’s expiration date to avoid any lapse in documentation that proves legal status in the U.S.

Eligibility for Naturalization

After the approval of Form I-485, which adjusts an individual’s status to a lawful permanent resident (LPR), he or she may eventually become eligible for naturalization. Naturalization is the process by which a permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen. Generally, there are several requirements that one must meet:

  • Residency: An applicant must have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years before applying for naturalization. If married to a U.S. citizen, this requirement is reduced to 3 years.
  • Physical Presence: They need to have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years before applying, or 18 months out of the 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen.
  • Continuous Residence: Applicants must show that they have lived continuously in the U.S. since becoming an LPR. Absences of six months or more may disrupt this continuous residence.
  • Age: They must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Good Moral Character: Applicants should demonstrate good moral character for the statutory period, which means they haven’t committed certain crimes or violations that would disqualify them.
  • Language: They should be able to read, write and speak basic English.
  • U.S. Government and History Knowledge: They must pass a civics test that covers important U.S. history and government topics.
  • Oath of Allegiance: Finally, they must be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

The LPR status is the first substantial step towards naturalization, and maintaining this status without violations is crucial for eligibility. It is always advised for individuals to consult with immigration professionals or refer to the latest USCIS guidance, as immigration policies and practices can change.

Address and Personal Information Updates

After receiving an I-485 approval notice, individuals must promptly update their address and personal information to avoid any potential issues with receiving essential correspondence from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • Address Updates: They are required by law to inform USCIS of any address changes within 10 days of moving. Updating the address can be quickly done online through the USCIS Change of Address page or by filing Form AR-11.
  • Personal Information Changes: In case of significant life changes such as marriage, divorce, or legal name changes, individuals should contact USCIS to update their personal details. This helps ensure the accuracy of their records, and that their Green Card will reflect the correct information.

Here’s a simplified breakdown for keeping information current with USCIS:

Action Required Reasons/Conditions Method
Update Address Within 10 days of moving Online or Form AR-11
Update Personal Information Changes such as marriage, name change, etc. Contact USCIS directly

Maintaining current records with USCIS is essential for smooth processing of future applications or petitions and receiving necessary notifications regarding one’s immigration status.