By: Attorney Gail S. Seeram, [email protected]awyer.com
The law requires that most non-U.S. citizens report a change of address within 10 days of moving by completing a Change of Address form with USCIS. Additionally, petitioners and sponsors are required to report a change of address whether they are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. It is also mandatory for any alien who has been designated as a “special registrant” to inform the USCIS whenever he or she has a change of address, employment or school.
In the past, INS, required every alien in the United States to report his or her address annually, in January. This requirement was eliminated in 1980 and annual reporting is no longer required. However, if you are not a U.S. citizen, the law still requires that you report any change of address change within 10 days of the change.
As a U.S. citizen, you are only legally required to update your address with USCIS if you have ever submitted an Affidavit of Support, to be the financial sponsor of someone so they can immigrate. You are required by law to report any change of address within 30 days of your move by filing a Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address. Additionally, a U.S. citizen and permanent resident (green card holder) will be required to submit a change of address on-line or by calling USCIS if they have a pending petition filed for a family member.
Any notices or documents USCIS sends to you are considered official Government mail. If your name is not on the mailbox and/ or registered with the local U.S. Postal Service Office, the Postal Service may not deliver official Government mail to you. Please remember to register your name and address with the local post office and to put your name on your mailbox.
How Do I Report My Change of Address?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, changing your address for legal purposes does not change your address on any application or petition pending with USCIS and changing your address on a pending application or petition does not meet the legal requirements of informing USCIS of your change of address.
For most cases, a petitioner or sponsor can change their address on a pending petition and inform USCIS of their change of address by accessing the new web-based service provided by the USCIS website. If you choose to use this online tool, you can complete an electronic Form AR-11 and notify USCIS to update your address on most pending cases.
If you choose not to complete an electronic Form AR-11, you will be required to obtain a paper Form AR-11 and mail it to the address shown on the form. This will delay the process of notifying USCIS significantly. Not filing an electronic AR-11 and choosing to mail in a paper AR-11 will not update your address on any applications or petitions pending with USCIS.
Regardless of whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, if you choose not to use the electronic change of address notification, you will need to call customer service at 1-800-375-5283 to request that the address on your pending application/petition be changed.
If you are not a U.S. citizen and you have a case pending with USCIS, you will need to do both – call customer service and complete the paper AR-11. Completing an AR-11 does not update your address on any pending case. Also, notifying customer service does not meet the legal requirement of completing an AR-11.
If you mail a paper Form AR-11, it is recommended to use certified, registered or return receipt mail. This is not currently a requirement of USCIS, however it is advisable to send the AR-11 by a method that will give you documentation that you did mail the form to USCIS, in case there should ever be a question.
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