What If I Forgot to Tell USCIS of My Change of Address?

Possible consequences for failing to submit a change of address to USCIS.

Question

I have a green card and I moved to a new address in the U.S. six months ago. In a few months, I might have to move again because of a new job assignment. Do I really have to tell USCIS every time I move to a new address?

Answer

Yes, you are supposed to tell U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) every time you move to a new address. Almost all non-U.S. citizens who are in the U.S. are required, by law, to give USCIS their new address within ten days of moving. (See 8 U.S.C. § 1305.)

Filing a change of address form with the post office is not sufficient. You must alert USCIS directly of your new address.

People who do not have to give USCIS their address after moving include:

  • diplomats (A visa)
  • foreign government representatives to international organizations (G visa), and
  • some nonimmigrants without visas who are in the U.S. for fewer than 30 days.

Most types of applicants can either submit a change of address online or call USCIS's customer service number, 800-375-5283, to change their address.

Another possibility is to complete and print out Form AR-11 and then mail it to the address listed on the USCIS website.

If you're changing your address through the mail and you have submitted any applications to USCIS that are still being processed, it is a good idea to also send a letter to the office that's processing your application to let it know that you have a new address.

It is imperative that you list the receipt number of every application that is still pending. For example, a U.S. citizen child might petition for her father and file an adjustment of status application, and he might wish to work while the application is pending. This application requires three forms: Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Each form and its receipt number must be listed on the Change of Address form, whether changing the details online, by mail, or via Form AR-11.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, trafficking or other crimes, you cannot file your change of address online. Instead, you should print out and mail form AR-11 to the Vermont Service Center at:

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: Humanitarian Division
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden St.
St. Albans, VT 05479

If filing an AR-11 by mail, be sure to use a carrier that offers tracking, such as the U.S. Postal Service with certified mail and a return receipt requested. That way, you will have proof that you submitted it to USCIS, in case it gets lost.

What if you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has never given USCIS a new address, or has already waited, perhaps a year after moving? According to the law, willfully (intentionally) failing to give USCIS your new address is a misdemeanor that can be punished by a fine of up to $200 and up to 30 days in jail.

The law also says that an LPR can actually be removed from the U.S. (deported) for failing to give USCIS a new address, unless the LPR can prove: (1) that the failure to report a change of address was “reasonably excusable” or (2) that the failure was not “willful.”

However, in practice, it is rare for U.S. immigration authorities to actually prosecute or deport an LPR who failed to update an address. Immigration authorities have limited resources and cannot go after every LPR who fails to update an address. Nevertheless, strict enforcement is always possible in the future.

Therefore, updating your address with USCIS is a good idea, even if you're late. And if you haven't done it when you've moved in the past, do it now and do it every time you move in the future.

Or, if you meet all of the eligibility requirements, consider applying for U.S. citizenship. Once you are a U.S. citizen, you'll never have to give USCIS your latest address again. For more information, see Who Can Apply for U.S. Citizenship.

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