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USCIS Transfer of Underlying Basis Process

Updated Transfer of Underlying Basis Process

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released updated guidance regarding requests for the “transfer of underlying basis” between employment-based categories in January. Previously called “green card interfiling,” transfer of underlying basis is an adjustment of status from one immigration category to another. Previously, USCIS had discouraged transfer of underlying basis. But the January 21, 2022 guidance acknowledged that adjusting status may be appropriate for some applicants, and also gave a preferred procedure for how to request a transfer of underlying basis.

Criteria for Transfer of Underlying Basis

USCIS may at its discretion grant a transfer of underlying basis. To qualify for transfer of underlying basis, the applicant must have:

  • continuously maintained eligibility for adjustment of status;
  • the adjustment of status application based on the original Form I-140 that is still pending
  • be eligible for the new immigrant category
  • have a visa immediately available in the new immigrant category

USCIS’ Preferred Process for Requesting a Transfer of Underlying Basis

The January USCIS guidance provided USCIS’ preferred process to request a transfer of underlying basis:

  • Requests must be made in writing to a new USCIS contact address in California:
    Attn: I-485 Supp J
    U. S. Department of Homeland Security
    USCIS Western Forms Center
    10 Application Way
    Montclair, CA 91763-1350
  • A Form I-485, Supplement J should be included with the written request.
  • Filing a second I-485 or submitting new fees is not required.
  • USCIS will not provide a written response to transfer of underlying basis requests.
  • USCIS will issue receipt notices for a Supplement J.
  • USCIS online case status portal may update when a transfer of underlying basis request is received by USCIS.
  • USCIS will continue to process transfer of underlying basis requests which were submitted previous to the new guidance.

Pros and Cons of a Transfer of Underlying Basis

Depending on your current status and what status you plan to change to, interfiling can lengthen the I-485 processing times. However, the overall process could be shorter if the applicant is converting from one petition category to one that allows the applicant to adjust status more quickly, such as the EB-3 to EB-2 transfer of underlying basis in the January USCIS status. An experienced immigration lawyer can advise the applicant of the best opportunity for their specific situation.

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