What should the sponsoring spouse do if they move abroad while the marriage green card application is pending?


Independent attorneys in the Boundless network answer common U.S. immigration questions

Jul 21, 2021


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What should the sponsoring spouse do if they move abroad while the marriage based green card application is pending?

When applying for a marriage green card using consular processing, sponsoring spouses are required to maintain U.S. domicile, meaning they must prove to the U.S. government that the United States is their principal country of residence. Therefore, if they temporarily move outside the United States, they must still provide a domestic (U.S.) address for all correspondence from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days of moving. USCIS never sends correspondence to a non-U.S. address.

If the sponsoring spouse no longer has their own address in the United States where they may receive postal mail, they generally may provide the address of a trusted relative or friend instead. The new address may be provided to USCIS by logging in to the sponsoring spouse’s USCIS Online Account, if they have one. Otherwise, they must complete Form AR-11 (address change form) online or by mail by completing a paper form.

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Once the sponsoring spouse’s Form I-130 (family sponsorship form) has been approved, USCIS will forward the green card application materials to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing in the home country of the spouse seeking a green card. In the interim, USCIS sends notice of this action to the sponsoring spouse and generally no other correspondence.

If the sponsoring spouse had not provided an updated U.S. address by that time, they will receive this notice via email (in addition to the paper notice sent to their outdated U.S. mailing address) so long as they provided USCIS with a valid email address beforehand. USCIS also posts status updates on the sponsoring spouse’s USCIS Online Account. It’s therefore wise to create a USCIS Online Account and provide an up-to-date email address to USCIS as early as possible to ensure receipt of important notices electronically.

Once the NVC has confirmed receipt of the sponsoring spouse’s application materials, then the sponsoring spouse must provide an updated address to the NVC, not USCIS, by completing a Public Inquiry Form. They must also complete this step if they move after the NVC has received their application materials.


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