USCIS revises application form for green card applicants

A woman holds a small United States flag during a ceremony to be sworn in as a United States citizen.
A woman holds a small United States flag during a ceremony to be sworn in as a United States citizen. Miami Herald File

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has redesigned the application form to apply for permanent residence, commonly referred to as a green card.

The new document, officially known as Form I-485, now has 18 pages and includes new questions on the background of those who wish to adjust their immigration status.

“The new Form I-485 and instructions have been substantially updated to reduce complexity after collecting comments from the public and stakeholders,” USCIS said in a statement recently issued.

“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,” USCIS said. “These updates should increase the efficiency of the adjudication process by reducing errors and requests for evidence.”

Applicants must use the revised document effective Aug. 25.

Miami immigration attorney Wilfredo Allen said the fact that the new form delves deeper into background questions of applicants is not a problem.

“Living in the United States is not a right, it is a privilege and American society has every right to better know those who aspire to live here,” he said.

Allen said those who are undergoing the application process should consider seeking professional help in filling 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.

The application process for a green card can be cumbersome and costly. Those who obtain it can legally work and live in the country. The green card is the first step toward acquiring U.S. citizenship.

Cuban migrants who entered the country before the Jan. 12 elimination of an immigration policy known as “wet foot, dry foot” can obtain permanent residence under the Cuban Adjustment Act. But they still must go through the application process, which includes providing proof of physical presence in the United States for at least year.

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Follow Mario J. Pentón on Twitter: @mariojose_cuba