One of the usual requirements for a lawful permanent resident who is filing an application for U.S. citizenship ("naturalization") is that they live in your state or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service district for three months before applying. In other words, if you've just moved from Illinois to New York, you must wait until you've lived for three months in New York to send in your Form N-400. This rule makes it easier for USCIS to balance its workload across its many offices nationwide, and prevents people from applying for citizenship if living overseas.
The rule requires only that you live somewhere for three months before filing your application, however. You can move to a new state or USCIS service district after you file your application and USCIS will continue to process it. The question in this situation is, where will your interview and oath ceremony be held—near your old address or your new one? We'll discuss the details here, focusing on three situations:
The first thing to know is that, as a U.S. lawful permanent resident (a green card holder), your ongoing responsibilities include sending notification of your change your address to USCIS within ten days of moving, whether you've applied for U.S. citizenship or not.
It's especially important to change your address with USCIS if you have an application pending there. You can change your address online or call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. Make sure to have the receipt number from your citizenship application ready.
What normally happens is that the USCIS office in the old state or service district sees the change of address a citizenship applicant has filed within its computer system and transfers the file to the USCIS office nearest where the applicant is now living. (This is despite the fact that U.S. immigration law says that USCIS doesn't have to schedule an interview in the applicant's new state or service district.)
The USCIS office that receives the file will mail a notice of interview to the applicant at the new address, scheduling the interview.
If you moved without ever changing your address online or by phone, or if you know you're going to move soon, you can request that your interview take place near your new address. You need to send a request letter to the USCIS office nearest your new address letting it know about your new address.
If you move to a new home after your U.S. citizenship interview has been scheduled, you first need to notify USCIS of your change of address. When the USCIS office near your old address sees your change of address in the system, it will cancel your interview and send your file to the USCIS office closest to your new address. That office will schedule you for an interview near your new address.
If for some reason USCIS never noticed your change of address and never cancelled your interview, you can, if it's feasible for you, show up for the interview near your old address. USCIS will usually just go ahead with the interview. Once the interview is complete, USCIS will transfer your file to its office nearest your new address. If your citizenship is approved, your oath ceremony will take place near your new address.
It's a little bit risky to show up for an interview near your old address, however, because the USCIS officer might not agree to interview you. It's better to change your address first and wait for a new interview.
If you move after your citizenship interview has been completed and you've been approved for citizenship, but before the oath ceremony at which you actually are sworn in as a new U.S. citizen, you first need to notify USCIS of your change of address. USCIS will then cancel your scheduled oath ceremony, transfer your file to the USCIS office nearest your new address, and schedule you for an oath ceremony near your new address.
Unfortunately, changes of address can cause your application to be lost or seriously delayed. If facing such complications, hiring an experienced immigration attorney can be your best bet for getting your citizenship case back on track.