Steps After I-485 (Adjustment of Status) Approval
After your Adjustment of Status (I-485) petition is approved, you (and your dependents who applied with you) need to go to the nearby local office of USCIS to get your passport stamped.

I-551 stamp in your passport is a temporary proof that you are a permanent resident of the U.S. Even though it may look like a simple rubber stamp, it is a completely valid proof, just like the plastic greencard. You can use this passport stamp for all practical purposes that you would be able to use your plastic greencard for: employment, travel abroad and enter back into the U.S. etc. This stamp is valid for 1 year.

With the exception of the children under 14 years, the passport stamping is required. When you go for passport stamping, you would be giving them the passport style photographs and the fingerprints which are required to make your plastic greencard.

Taking an Appointment
USCIS offices don't offer walk-ins and you must take an appointment through INFOPASS to go for passport stamping. USCIS does not entertain walk-ins.

INFOPASS Appointment

While making an INFOPASS appointment, make sure that your computer is connected to the printer. You will need to print out the online confirmation. You need to show your confirmation to the officer at the USCIS office. Make sure to carry the confirmation when you go for stamping, as you will not be admitted without it. You will be asked to enter your zip code and it will determine what local office you would be required to go to.

In case you need to cancel the appointment later, you will need the identification number that appears near the bottom of the confirmation letter.

While taking the appointment, you must select the option that says
"You have received an approval letter or Form I-797C from the Service Center or local office instructing you to come into the office for alien identification card processing / passport stamp".

Appointment for Dependents
You need to take a separate appointment for each person that is getting their passport stamped. If you take one appointment for the entire family, all of you may still be admitted into the USCIS office. However, you may have to wait for many hours until everyone who has taken the appointments are taken care of.

Dependent children under 14 years of age don't need to get their passport stamped. They receive the greencard automatically. USCIS uses the photos from the I-485 application to make the greencard. Fingerprints will not exist on the greencard for such persons as they were not collected. In case you need to travel before the physical cards arrive, you can get the children also stamped.

Appointment Timing
It is the safest to wait until you get the approval notice(s) in the mail before you make an appointment. However, it generally takes around one to two weeks for the actual approval notice to come in mail after the approval date, you should take the appointment around two or more weeks away. If you still have not received the approval notice before your appointment date, you can cancel that appointment and take a new one.

Documents
You need to carry the following documents to your appointment:
  • Infopass appointment confirmation letter.

  • Mailed original approval notice (Form I-797C) for I-485 approval.
    Internet print out of the approval notice is NOT acceptable.

  • 2 identical photographs.

  • Passport, valid for at least one year from the stamping date.

    If your passport is expiring in less than 1 year from the stamping date, you will need to take one additional photograph with you (for a total of 3 photographs). The officer at the USCIS will create a temporary card using an I-94 form, affix the additional photograph to it and stamp the card. This temporary card is equivalent to the stamping in the passport and is valid for one year as well.

  • Additional identification such as driver's license.

  • H/L or any other visa papers such as approval notice.

  • Form I-94.

  • EAD, if any.

  • Advance Parole, if any.

There are no additional fees required and there are no forms to be filled at the time of passport stamping appointment.

Even though some people argue that the H/L visa, EAD, Advance Parole etc. are not required for passport stamping, it is best to carry them just in case asked for any of them. It is much more convenient to carry the documents that may possibly be required than take another appointment and come back again.

After Stamping
You should receive your actual plastic greencard usually within two to four weeks of passport stamping. However, it may also take three to four months as well. As the temporary greencard is valid for one year, you will definitely receive your plastic greencard before that.

Just in case, for any reason, if you don't receive your plastic greencard before your stamp expires, you will have to follow the same steps as above and get it stamped again.

If you have set up an online portfolio at the USCIS, at some time after getting the passport stamped, you will the status of your I-485 case change to "Card Ordered". You will also receive an email indicating that if you set it up accordingly.

Now that you have received a greencard, please read 'retain greencard' so that you don't loose it.

In case you are moving soon, read change of address.

Social Security Card
If you have a social security card that has any restrictions printed on it such as 'VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION', 'NOT VALID FOR WORK' etc., you need to get your card updated and get those restrictions removed.

If any of your dependents only have the ITIN number, they need to rescind ITIN after getting the social security number.

It may take around 10 working days for Social Security Administration (SSA) to get the information from DHS about your legal status change (becoming permanent resident). Therefore, it best to go to the social security office at least after 10 working days. Otherwise, they will have to request the information manually from the DHS and it will cause significant delays.

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