What Should I Do If My Address Changes While My Asylum Application Is Being Processed?

How to make sure your change of address doesn't get in the way of attending your asylum interview at a USCIS office.

By , Attorney · Temple University Beasley School of Law

After you have submitted an affirmative application for asylum to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the ideal is for your life to remain stable until the date you're called in for a personal interview. But life is full of change, especially if you haven't yet qualified for a work permit (EAD or Employment Authorization Document) and thus must rely on finding low-cost accommodation or staying with friends. If you do have to move to a new residence, be sure to let USCIS know. Here's how to do that.

A Post Office Forwarding Request Won't Do It

Although asking the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to forward your mail to your new address is a good idea generally, it won't do all that is needed here. For starters, USPS will not advise USCIS of the change.

More importantly, USPS will not forward your mail from USCIS, because of the risk of fraud and of important documents being sent to the wrong person or place.

USCIS Online Method for Advising of a Change of Address

The first thing you should do is to create a USCIS online account (if you don't already have one) and submit your change of address there. This should ensure you receive all USCIS correspondence and avoid delays.

You will need your receipt number from your pending asylum application in order to successfully notify USCIS of your new address. If you haven't yet received a receipt notice, you can instead call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.

The notification method that was favored in previous years was to go to the USCIS website and complete the electronic Form AR-11, Alien's Change of Address Card. If you have issues creating the online account, you could try this method instead.

Advising the Asylum Office If You Will Need an Interview at a Closer Location to Your New Address

If you are moving far away and you have already received a date and location for your local asylum interview, you must also submit a request to reschedule your interview at an asylum office that is closer to your current residence. You can do this by mailing a letter to the asylum office or field office where your interview is scheduled, explaining that your address has changed and requesting an interview date at a USCIS asylum office or field office that is more convenient.

The address for the asylum office handling your case should be located on your interview notice. Online, you can find both a list of asylum offices and a list of field offices. Make sure that your rescheduling request is received prior to your interview date. If that is impossible, you must make the request no later than 15 days after or else you risk the denial of your asylum application.

Getting Legal Help

A good attorney can not only help you with paperwork matters such as changing address, but might improve your chances of obtaining asylum at all. The attorney should listen to your whole story and help you highlight the legally recognized aspects of your fear of persecution. Fortunately, asylum is an area where you will find a lot of help from volunteer attorneys or nonprofit (charitable) organizations serving immigrants and refugees.

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