Make Sure Immigration Knows When You Move

June 18, 2013
Beata Leja

Foreign nationals in the U.S. are generally required to notify the government of an address change. This requirement arises for those who have temporary legal status, permanent resident status, and/or those who are in removal proceedings.

If you are a foreign national residing in the U.S., you must notify United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when you move to another address.  Virtually all non-U.S. citizens in the U.S. must report a change of address to USCIS on Form AR-11, Change of Address, within 10 days of moving. These include permanent residents, all nonimmigrants such as those on H-1Bs, L-IAs, L-1Bs, F-1 students and those with a petition or application pending.

Only diplomats, government representatives to an international organization and certain nonimmigrants without a visa and in the U.S. for fewer than 30 days are exempt from filing a change of address with USCIS.

It is also very important to file a change of address if you have applications or petitions that are pending with USCIS or your case has recently been approved. That will ensure you receive notification of a decision on the application or petition. USCIS may also need to contact you to provide documents or to return original copies of evidence you submitted.

Even U.S. citizen sponsors of pending applications or petitions (such as those sponsoring foreign nationals for a green card) should file a change of address with USCIS to make sure they receive important case information.

Foreign nationals can file the AR-11 with USCIS online or by mail. Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan recommends the following steps when you change your address:

  1. Notify MMH – provide your attorney with your updated address as soon as possible. We can assist you with the following process.
  2. File Form AR-11 within 10 days of your move.
  3. In addition, notify USCIS of your change of address for any and all pending applications.  Completing the AR-11 does NOT automatically update your address for pending applications.
    1. If you filed the AR-11 online, you will be able to complete this step immediately after the submission of the AR-11.
    2. If you filed the AR-11 by mail, you should call USCIS at (800) 375-5283 to update your address for pending application(s).
    3. You should receive a letter from USCIS within two weeks confirming that the address has been updated for the pending application(s).  If you do not receive this letter, call USCIS at (800) 375-5283 with your receipt number(s) to ensure the address change for the pending application(s) is registered in the system.

When changing your address for a pending available application, you should have available your receipt number, which can be found on your receipt notice,  your new address, your old address, the names and biographical information for the person for whom you have filed, when you last entered the U.S. (if you can’t remember fill in an approximate date) and where you last entered the U.S. (the port of entry you entered—land, sea or air).

Foreign nationals in proceedings before an immigration judge or who have filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) must also notify the Immigration Court or BIA as well as USCIS when they move.  If you have been placed in Immigration Court proceedings (such as deportation or removal) or have an appeal pending with the BIA you must notify the Court or BIA within 5 days of your move. For cases pending before immigration judges, you must file Form EOIR 33/IC. If you have an appeal pending with the BIA, use Form EOIR 33/BIA. The forms are available from the Department of Justice website.

Please note you cannot notify the BIA or Immigration Court of a change of address on the USCIS website. However, you are still required to file a Form AR-11 separately with USCIS.

Intentionally failing to file a Form AR-11 with USCIS within 10 days of moving to the new address is a misdemeanor with a potential fine of $200, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both. Failing to file a Form AR-11, may also subject foreign nationals to removal from the U.S. and jeopardize their ability to obtain a future visa or immigration benefit.

Please keep in mind that the U.S. Postal Service will not forward USCIS correspondence.  USCIS mail that is sent to an old address will be returned to USCIS and important documents can be lost in the process.  It is your responsibility to keep USCIS, the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and MMH up to date on any address changes.

If you need assistance notifying USCIS or other governmental agencies of a change in your address, please contact your attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. We specialize in U.S. immigration law and have been helping individuals with their immigration needs for over 35 years.

The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.

© 2023 Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. All rights reserved. Information may not be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C.

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