Form I-485 Supplement J Preparation and Filing Tips
As immigration practitioners, we often view the release of a new immigration form with a certain amount of trepidation. During the past few years, the USCIS has published hundreds of updates to its immigration forms – adding new fields, changing instructions, experimenting with barcodes, etc. While some of these modifications are welcome (particularly to the extent they achieve some standardization), other changes can be problematic, or at the very least raise some additional questions.
In today’s article, we’re going to briefly review the Form I-485 “Supplement J” form which was recently published by the USCIS in connection with the 2016 rule on the retention of immigrant workers and improvements affecting high-skilled nonimmigrant workers. In a nutshell, the Supplement J enables USCIS to confirm (in a more standardized way) that certain employment-based AOS applicants have a valid offer of employment at the time the I-485 application is filed and adjudicated. This evidence requirement is nothing new, so in essence, the Supplement J is merely replacing the job offer and employment confirmation letters that were previously submitted by employers and applicants.
And yet, many employers and practitioners have expressed concern regarding this new supplement, noting the additional complexity and burden of completing even more paperwork in an already paper-heavy process. In addition, there are many important practice-related questions which have already arisen as individuals begin completing this new supplement.
In an effort to demystify the Supplement J, we’re going to highlight the form fundamentals and also provide some FAQs, based on public information and recently released and published tips for AILA members (note references below).
Effective January 17, 2017, the regulations require the use of the new Supplement J for either of the following purposes:
(1) To confirm that the job offered to the applicant in the I-140 remains a bona fide job offer that the applicant intends to accept once the AOS application is approved;
(2) To request job portability in a same or similar occupation where the AOS application has been pending for 180 days or more.
The form and accompanying instructions can be downloaded from the USCIS website here.
Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
(1) When should Supplement J be filed for AOS applications?
The new Supplement J form must be filed in the following situations:
- An AOS application is being filed separately from the underlying I-140 petition (i.e., NOT concurrently filed)
- To request job portability in a same or similar occupation where the AOS application has been pending for 180 days or more
- In response to an RFE or NOID from USCIS requesting confirmation that the job offer in the underlying I-140 is bona fide and still available to the applicant
Important: Supplement J is not required if you are filing your AOS concurrently with the I-140 petition.
(2) What information is required on the Supplement J?
At the onset, it’s important to note that the Supplement J must be completed by the applicant AND the employer who will be hiring the applicant upon approval of the AOS (either the I-140 petitioner or new qualifying employer).
From the applicant: names, address, contact information, A-Number, USCIS online account information (if available), date and country of birth, and I-140/I-485 receipt information.
From the employer: name, basic corporate information, job offer details, and contact information.
(3) What evidence must be submitted with the Supplement J?
The instructions note that if you are filing Supplement J to request job portability, you must also provide a copy of the I-797 receipt notice which shows that the AOS application has been pending for 180 days or more, and if available, a copy of the Form I-797 showing that the applicant is a beneficiary of an approved or still pending I-140 petition.
In either case, the USCIS notes that if you do not have such documentation, they will review their electronic records for the I-140/I-485 receipt number provided on the Supplement J. An applicant may also provide “secondary evidence” to demonstrate a pending AOS application and the existence of an approved or still pending I-140 petition.
(4) Signing the Supplement J
As mentioned above, the Supplement J is jointly submitted by both the AOS applicant and the employer who will be employing the individual upon approval of the application. In addition, there are separate preparer blocks (for both the applicant and the employer) which must be completed by a preparer (such as an attorney) who completes those relevant sections on the applicant’s and/or employer’s behalf.
There’s also a rather cryptic note indicating that if you are an attorney or accredited representative, you may be “obliged” to submit a G-28 along with the Supplement J. Since the applicant and employer may be represented by difference counsel, it’s possible that you may need to submit two G-28s (one for the employee and one for the employer).
(5) Will I receive a receipt notice and/or approval notice for the Supplement J?
According to AILA/SCOPS Teleconference Minutes (AILA Doc. No. 17021741), applicants will receive a receipt notice after data entry. A Supplement J filed with a stand-alone I-485 will be adjudicated at the same time but if there is a need for pre-adjudication, the Supplement J decision will be sent before the I-485 decision.
Case Management Tips
As described above, there are very specific rules regarding how the Supplement J should be prepared (and filed) for certain employment-based AOS applications. If you’re using (or considering the use of) a case management system, you’ll want to make sure your own internal processes are updated to include the Supplement J when required.
Here are some areas worth exploring to ensure that your AOS applications are complete (and approvable):
Predefined Workflows: consider adding the Supplement J to your employment-based AOS processes (including initial applications and job portability requests). If you have a combined I-140/AOS process type for concurrent filing, note that the Supplement J will not be required.
Activity Lists: similar to the above, you may wish to update your detailed activity lists for relevant AOS processes to include the preparation of the Supplement J. In doing so, you might also remove previous references to applicant and employer job letters (if applicable) and include additional steps which may be involved if an RFE is received.
Form Generation: to save time, your case management system should automatically populate the vast majority of information needed to complete the form (including both information from the applicant and the employer – particularly in situations where the organization was the petitioner of the underlying I-140). You’ll also need to pay close attention to the various signatory blocks (applicant, employer, and representative for both).
Want more information on using an online case management system to prepare AOS applications? Please contact us today to learn about the Edge solution from LawLogix.