What address history is required for a green card application?
When applying for a family-based or marriage-based green card, you’ll need to provide your address history for the past five years to the U.S. government. If you’re applying from abroad, you’ll need to remember all of the addresses where you’ve lived since age 16.
This task should be simple if you’ve lived in the same place all these years. But what if you’ve moved enough times to forget some of your previous addresses or exactly when you lived at each one? In this guide, we’ll review how accurate you’re generally expected to be when providing your address history. We’ll also provide some useful tips for remembering your old addresses.
Both the family member seeking a green card and sponsoring family member must provide their address history on the appropriate form. The following table lists the forms where family members will enter their current and previous addresses:
|Which form?||Whose address history?||For which years?|
|Family Sponsorship Form (I-130)||Sponsoring family member (U.S. citizen or green card holder)||Past 5 years|
|Supplemental Information Form (I-130A)||Green card applicant living abroad or in the U.S.||Past 5 years|
|Green Card Application|
|Green card applicant living in the U.S.||Past 5 years|
|Online Green Card Application (DS-260)||Green card applicant living abroad||Age 16 until now|
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides official instructions for completing the “Address History” section of the I-130, I-130A, and I-485 forms. The upshot is that you must include the start and end dates (month/day/year) that you physically lived at each address — whether in the United States or abroad — during the past five years. If you have lived abroad at any time during those five years, you must also list your last physical address outside the United States where you spent more than one year (you may need to enter this address twice in the same section). Note that you must list the last address where you lived outside the United States, even if you lived there more than five years ago.
USCIS suggests providing an approximate date and including an explanation if you can’t remember the exact date.
As for the State Department’s online DS-260 form, the National Visa Center (NVC) requires only the months and years that the green card applicant lived at each address — but starting at age 16.
Note that a “physical address” is a place where you actually lived — not a post office box or other address used just for receiving mail.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you list the most recent address first and work backwards from there.
It’s important to ensure the address history matches with the employment history and immigration history to prevent USCIS requesting more information about why the histories don’t align, which could delay a green card application.
If the histories don’t match up for a valid reason (for instance, the applicant worked remotely or they listed the headquarters address for their company rather than the physical office address), then they can explain why on the form or in the addendum.
If you can’t recall certain previous addresses or dates, don’t panic. Historically speaking, the U.S. government has generally allowed some flexibility on this portion of the green card application. After all, many people don’t keep perfect records of old addresses and moving dates, especially if they’ve moved frequently, which is typical of individuals who serve in the military.
That said, you should treat this section of the application with reasonable care. If you have a lot of unexplained gaps in your address history, your green card application could be delayed or even denied. And accuracy is extremely important when supplying any information to the U.S. government. Near the end of every form, you’ll sign a sworn statement attesting to the truthfulness of your answers. Intentionally providing false information — formally known as “perjury,” or lying under oath — is a criminal offense.
In other words, you should do your best to give a complete and accurate address history. If you can’t avoid a gap or two in your address history, there are three outcomes you may anticipate from the U.S. government that are less severe than an outright denial:
- They may accept your address history without question.
- They may ask you to amend your application with a more complete address history by sending an official request for evidence, or RFE (although this is relatively rare).
- They may ask about the gaps during your green card interview.
It’s always a good idea to either explain any gaps on your forms or eliminate gaps altogether by searching for your old addresses (see below for tips).
If you’re having trouble recalling previous addresses, you’re not alone. This can be tough if you’ve relocated multiple times over the years and haven’t kept a perfect record of each place where you’ve lived.
But there are simple ways to help jog your memory. If you’re having trouble remembering an on old address, try one of these methods:
Check your free credit report: Go to AnnualCreditReport.com, a government-endorsed website, and pull your free credit report (provided by each of the three major credit bureaus once per year). Each credit report contains a list of previous addresses based on credit accounts, such as credit cards and loans, that you’ve opened in the past seven to 10 years. Keep in mind, however, that these reports will only list where you’ve lived, not when.
If you’ve never opened a credit account before, you can request a different type of consumer report from an agency that tracks your financial activity. You must pay for access to these reports, however, and the cost will vary by reporting agency.
Dig through your order history: If you’ve made purchases from the same online retailers, such as Amazon or eBay, for the past several years, you can check your order history for addresses you’ve used.
Look at your income tax returns: Besides needing to provide a photocopy of your most recent federal income tax return with your financial support form (I-864), you can also use your returns to find your address — often your home address — during a particular filing year.
Search other old records: If you live abroad, or previously did, you may not have filed a U.S. tax return or have a credit record to help you track down an old address. In this situation, you may have better luck looking through old documents, such as bank statements, employment contracts, medical records, and school files.
It’s important not to rely solely on records and housing documents, such as lease agreements, address-change confirmations, and physical mail, to recall your address history. Although these are helpful, they may not give the full picture and still leave gaps or create overlaps between dates that you physically lived at each address.
Eliminating gaps: There must be no gap between the end date at every previous address and the start date at every new address. For example, if one lease ended Jan. 31, 2020, but the applicant’s next lease started Feb. 15, 2020, they must still provide an address for the two-week period between Feb. 1 and Feb. 14, 2020.
In some cases, gaps are due to trips that one relative took to visit their family member in the United States or another country. When this happens, the address where the family member stayed generally should be provided to the U.S. government in their address history in order to fill in the gap.
Eliminating overlaps: The applicant must ensure that every address has clear start and end dates that do not run together with the dates at another address. For example, if one lease ended Jan. 31, 2020, but the applicant’s change-of-address records indicate they started receiving mail at a new address on Jan. 20, 2020, the start date for that new address must be Feb. 1, 2020, not Jan. 20, 2020, unless they can logically explain the overlap in writing. It’s possible, for example, that the applicant had moved into a new home before their last lease expired.
Have a question about your address history? With Boundless, you get an independent immigration attorney who will answer all of your questions and review your entire green card application. Get started today.