Notifying USCIS of Change in Address

Most foreign nationals in the United States must report address changes to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The legal timeframe for this notification is just ten days. The process is simple and free, and helps to facilitate proper delivery of official notices and correspondence.

Change-of-Address Requirements

Immigration laws require most foreign nationals in the U.S. to submit notification of address changes to the USCIS within ten days of relocation. There are exceptions for diplomats (A visa status), official government representatives to international organization (G visa status), and certain nonimmigrants who do not possess a visa and who are in the United States for fewer than 30 days. All other foreign nationals, including permanent residents (i.e. green card holders), are required by law to notify the USCIS following a change in residence, which typically is accomplished by completing form AR-11.

Separate Form for Each Family Member

Within ten days of moving to a new address, each foreign national typically must complete a hard copy AR-11 form or its online equivalent (although, the online option is not available to one who has a pending VAWA, T, or U case). Each form only applies to a single individual; so, for example, if an H1B worker and H-4 spouse move to a new address, a separate form must be completed for each person. The form is relatively simple to complete and does not require a filing fee.

Special Reporting Requirements for F Students, M Students, and J Exchange Visitors

Rather than completing form AR-11, those in F, M, or J status generally are instead required to report an address change within ten days to the designated school official (DSO) or responsible officer (RO) at the school or exchange visitor program. The DSO or RO then is required to update Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 21 days.

Normally, reporting the address change to the DSO or RO satisfies the general reporting requirements. If, however, the foreign national in F, M, or J status has a pending application or petition for an unrelated immigration benefit (e.g., pending H1B petition), the individual also needs to complete form AR-11.

Additional Action may be Required for Pending or Recently Approved Applications / Petitions

If the address change is submitted using the online system, or through the DSO or RO, no further action is necessary. But, if the foreign national submits a hardcopy of the AR-11, and has any pending or recently approved applications or petitions, the individual also must provide a second notice to the USICS of the address change to link the new address to these cases. For most case types, this notification can be done by phone at 1.800.375.5283; for VAWA, T, or U cases, however, the notice must be submitted in writing to the Vermont Service Center.

The purpose of this second step is to ensure proper delivery of correspondence. As with the AR-11, a separate update must be submitted by each family member, if applicable. Further, if the foreign national has more than one application or petition pending, s/he must specify each pending case when notifying the USCIS of the address change.

Update with Recent Corrected Address Change

An address update requires one’s current address and most recent previous address. The system does not allow for submission of multiple previous addresses. If the foreign national neglected to submit an AR-11 after a previous address change, one cannot submit an AR-11 form to provide this outdated information to the USCIS.

Conclusion

Address change notification is a simple process, but one that can be easily overlooked. Foreign nationals should be aware of this requirement and promptly submit the necessary information following a move.

While some aspects of immigration have changed in significant ways in the years since MurthyDotCom began publishing articles in 1994, there is much that is still the same. From time to time, we at the Murthy Law Firm refer our clients to articles, like this one, which remains relevant and has been updated for our readers.

 

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.