Help! My race is not listed on the I-485 Form!

We frequently have clients ask about the Biographic Information section in Part 7 of the I-485 Form and similar questions on race and ethnicity on other US immigration forms. The form limits the preparer to two ethnicities and five races. This can be frustrating and very confusing if you don’t feel that you fall into one of those descriptions. The federal government takes a limited approach to race and ethnicity which is why there are limited choices in this section.

According to the federal government, ethnicity is simply whether a person if of Hispanic Origin or not. That is why there are only two choices in this section. According to the government you are Hispanic or Latino if you are a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

Choosing your race can be a little more complicated. The government provides you with five options for the race category and you are able to choose more than one. The five race options are White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. One question we receive a lot is “I’m Hispanic, what race do I choose?” According to the federal government Hispanics may report as any race.

Whether you are Hispanic or not, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Please also keep in mind that you do not need to prove or document your ethnicity. We are not able to tell clients how to answer the questions, but instead we encourage clients to choose the options that they most identify with.

Do you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter? Please contact our office today to see how we may be able to assist you! We are immigration lawyers located in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. Please call us at 804-396-3412 or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!

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