What Happens If I Move After Applying for U.S. Citizenship?

Find out whether you can have your U.S. citizenship interview and oath ceremony near your new address after you move from the place you were living when you applied (sent in your N-400).

By , J.D. ● UC Davis School of Law
Updated 4/19/2024

One of the usual requirements for a lawful permanent resident wishing to apply for U.S. citizenship ("naturalization") is that they live in the same state or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service district for three months before doing so. In other words, if you have just moved from Illinois to New York, you must wait until you have lived for three months in New York to send your Form N-400 to USCIS. This rule makes it easier for USCIS to balance its workload across its many offices nationwide and also prevents people from applying for citizenship if they're living overseas.

The rule requires only that you live somewhere for three months before filing your N-400 application, however. You aren't stuck in one place after that, and can move to a new state or USCIS service district if you wish. USCIS will continue to process your application. The question in this situation, which this article will address, is how to keep your application on track and 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:

  • if you move to your new home after submitting Form N-400 but before your U.S. citizenship interview has been scheduled
  • if you move to your new home after your USCIS interview has been actually scheduled, and
  • if you move to your new home after your USCIS interview but before your oath ceremony.

No Matter What, Advise USCIS of Your Change of Address

The first thing to know is that, as a U.S. lawful permanent resident (a green card holder), your ongoing legal responsibilities include sending notification of your change your address to USCIS within ten days of moving to a new residence, whether you have applied for U.S. citizenship or not.

It's especially important to change your address with USCIS if you have an application pending there, including for U.S. citizenship. You can change your address online or call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. Make sure to have the USCIS receipt notice from your citizenship application ready (Form I-797), because they're likely to ask you for your processing number.

If You Move Before Your USCIS Citizenship Interview Is Scheduled

If you haven't yet received a USCIS interview notice, what normally happens is that the USCIS office in the old state or service district sees the change of address that you filed within its computer system and will transfers the file to the USCIS field office serving the region where you are 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 you at the new address, scheduling your interview at a USCIS field office, probably in the nearest major city.

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 field office nearest your new address letting it know about your new address.

If You Move After Your USCIS Citizenship Interview Is Scheduled

If you move to a new home after you have received an actual date for your U.S. citizenship interview, 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 notices your change of address and never cancels 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 at that time. 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. Particularly if you have to travel a long way to make an appearance, it's probably safer to advise USCIS of your change of address first and then wait for a new interview.

If You Move After Your USCIS Citizenship Interview But Before Your Oath Ceremony

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.

Getting Legal Help

Unfortunately, changes of address can cause your citizenship application to be lost or seriously delayed. This article describes what USCIS normally does, or is expected to do, but some applications always seem to fall between the cracks. If facing such complications, hiring an experienced immigration attorney can be your best bet for getting your citizenship case back on track.

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