Law, Procedure, Other USCIS Change of Address Rules & Requirements

  1. Virtually all foreign nationals and aliens (those who are not U.S. Citizens) are obligated to inform the U.S. Citizen Immigration Services (USCIS) of a change of address in a timely fashion. Other than a few exceptions, a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) has a short period of time to file with the immigration authorities.

    Change of Address Under the Immigration and Nationality Act
    Every time that a lawful permanent resident or Green Card holder moves to a new residence, they must inform USCIS of the new address within 10 days of moving. This is set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act or "I.N.A.", as it is commonly abbreviated. Section 265 (a) states that only people not required to provide the USCIS with a change of address notice after moving are:
    1. diplomats admitted with an A visa; or
    2. a foreign government representatives with a G visa; or
    3. limited sets of nonimmigrants who do not hold a visa and are in the United States for less than 30 days.
    A foreign national who holds a visa or green card can file a change of address formally with the USCIS by filing Form AR-11, available on the USCIS website. If completed manually, Form AR-11 should be mailed to the address on the form and completed within ten days of the move. It is also possible to file a change of address with the USCIS online. Visa holders may also wish to notify other USCIS, immigration and government offices who are processing applications for the applicant about the address change.

    Filing a Late Change of Address with USCIS
    Circumstances may arise where a lawful permanent resident does not inform the USCIS of a new address at all or may have waited a significantly long period of time to file, such as a year. If the failure to file was intentional or willful, Immigration and National Act (I.N.A.) Section 266 provides for criminal misdemeanor charges which are punishable by a fine of up to $200 dollars and up to 30 days in jail. Under I.N.A. Section 237, the lawful permanent resident is also subject to being deported from the U.S. for failure to inform the USCIS of the change of address. It is the lawful permanent resident who bears the burden of proving that:
    1. there was a reasonable excuse for not informing authorities of their change of address; or
    2. it was not done willfully.
    Practically speaking, it is not often that a prosecution, deportation or removal proceeding occurs as a result of a late change of address filing. The immigration authorities have limited time and resources to pursue every lawful permanent resident who fails to timely file a change of address with USCIS. But while it's not often prosecuted, the option is always there to be enforced and it is important to recognize that enforcement is a possibility. It is probably a better to file late than not to file a change of address at all in fear of arousing suspicion. If a lawful permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen, the filing requirement for a change of address ends as does the need for a Green Card.
    Immigration Law:
    Visa Process

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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