Could a Change of Address Put Your Immigration Status at Risk?
You’re allowed to move house while on a green card, but don’t forget to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of your address change. Not only is it important to continue receiving official notices about your immigration status — but it’s also the law. Failing to report a new address promptly is a misdemeanor, and could lead to fines, jail time, or even deportation.
Fortunately, it’s easy to keep USCIS in the loop. Most people can simply update their address online, but some may need to mail in Form AR-11 (officially called the “Alien’s Change of Address Card”). This guide will help you understand when and how to properly change your address with USCIS. Need additional immigration support? Learn more about what we do to help.
What you’ll find in this guide:
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Do you need to tell USCIS about your new address?
Most foreign nationals, as well as U.S. citizens who have sponsored an immigrant, must tell USCIS promptly if they move house. Failing to do so could result in delays to pending applications, fines, a jail sentence, or even deportation. In practice, USCIS doesn’t have the resources to prosecute every immigrant who fails to update their address — but in the current climate, it’s best to play by the rules.
As a green card holder, you must notify USCIS within 10 days of changing your address. The rules are the same regardless of whether you have a conditional 2-year green card or an unconditional 10-year green card.
If you have a temporary visa, such as an H-1B employment visa, you must update your address with USCIS within 10 days of moving house.
The only non-immigrant visitors exempt from this requirement are:
- Foreign diplomats and government officials (A visas);
- Government representatives to international organizations (G visas); and
- Tourists and other visitors using a visa waiver program for trips of less than 30 days.
If you are a U.S. citizen who has sponsored an immigrant by filling out Form I-864, officially known as an “Affidavit of Support,” you should notify USCIS within 30 days of any change in address. This isn’t a legal requirement, so you won’t face prosecution if you fail to notify USCIS, but it could cause delays or other problems for the immigrant.
Sponsor requirements remain in effect until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, receives credit for 40 quarters of work, formally leaves the United States and abandons resident status, loses resident status another way, or dies.
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How to Update Your Address With USCIS
There are three ways for non-citizens to submit a change of address to USCIS:
- Online, through the USCIS Change of Address page: The simplest way to change the address on file with USCIS is to use the online Change of Address form. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, and you can request immediate email confirmation. You should receive mail confirmation of your address change within about 15 days.
- Online, through your USCIS account: If you filed your original paperwork online, you can log into your USCIS online account to change your address quickly and easily.
- By Mail: You can register a change in address by submitting Form AR-11, officially known as an “Alien’s Change of Address Card”, by mail. Be sure to use black ink and to sign the form, or it may be rejected. The form includes instructions on where to mail it.
- If you update your address online, you do not need to also mail in Form AR-11.
- If you do mail in Form AR-11, the address listed is just for that form. All other applications and associated fees must be mailed to the address listed in the instructions specific to those applications.
- Not everyone can update their address online. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, trafficking, or certain other crimes, then you must fill out Form AR-11 and mail it to USCIS’s Humanitarian Division. Other special cases include civil surgeons and attorneys of record. You can check the full list of exceptions here.
- If you have one or more applications or petitions in progress, such as Form I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) or Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”), then you must change your address for each pending or recently approved application. If you use the online form to change your address, you will have the option to update your address for other applications at the same time.
- If you have non-citizen dependents or other family members, you’ll need to file a separate address-change notification for each member of your household.
- Because mistakes sometimes happen and things get lost, it may be prudent to save a copy of each confirmation for your records. If you’re sending a paper copy of Form AR-11, consider using registered mail so you have a proper record.
There are 3 ways for U.S. citizens to let USCIS know about a change of address:
- Online, through the USCIS Change of Address page: The simplest way to change the address on file with USCIS is to use the online Change of Address form available online. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, and you can request immediate email confirmation. You should receive mail confirmation of your address change within about 15 days.
- By Phone: U.S. citizens can let USCIS know about a change in address by calling them at 1-800-375-5283. (Non-citizens are still required to file form AR-11 or an online notification, even if they’ve told USCIS by phone about an address change).
- By Mail: You can register a change in address by submitting Form I-865 (“Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address”) to report any address changes. Each sponsor is required to submit this form even if they live at the same address.
Information You’ll Need to Change Your Address
Before filling out your change of address form, be sure to have the following information handy:
- Your new address
- Your old address
- If you are a green card holder, your green card receipt number. (This can be found on the notice USCIS sent you after receiving your original application.)If you are a sponsor, the name and other biographical information of the petitioner
USCIS Address Change FAQs
What if I didn’t update my address within the required timeframe?
If you didn’t update your address on time, you could theoretically face a fine, a jail sentence, or even deportation. That rarely happens, but you should update your address with USCIS immediately, and continue to update your address promptly following any future relocations.
What if I move after my naturalization interview has been scheduled?
You should still update USCIS within 10 days of changing your address, even if you have an interview scheduled. That way, USCIS will know to send any further correspondence to your current address.
What if I move out of the country?
You should still let USCIS know within 10 days of moving. If your immigration case is now being handled by the National Visa Center, it’s worth contacting them directly too in order to make sure they know your new address.
What if I temporarily don’t have an address?
You should update USCIS within 10 days even if you are moving from one temporary address to another. If you have no address whatsoever, you should update USCIS as soon as you resolve your situation and have even an address, even if it’s just a temporary one.
What if I submitted a change of address but USCIS never received it?
You have sole responsibility for keeping USCIS informed of your address, but most of the penalties focus on punishing people who deliberately omit to update their address. Still, it will be up to you to prove your innocence, so if you file by mail it’s best to keep a record of having done so. Bear in mind that filing online is even easier, and leaves nothing to chance.
Does USCIS get notified if I use a U.S. Postal Service change of address form? No, you will need to notify USCIS separately. Your USPS change of address form only covers the mail you receive, and won’t have any effect on the address that USCIS keeps on file for you. Also, USCIS correspondence isn’t typically forwarded by the USPS, even if you’ve filed a postal change of address form, so you will likely miss important correspondence unless you keep USCIS updated.
You can also find answers to many common questions using USCIS’s self-service tools, which include how-to guides and a chatbot named “EMMA.” You can also find your local office and the USCIS Contact Center phone number on their website.
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As the sponsoring spouse, how do I change my address with USCIS if I’ve temporarily moved abroad?
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 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.
Once the sponsoring spouse’s Form I-130 (family sponsorship form) has been approved, USCIS will forward the green card application materials to the 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.