According to U.S. immigration law, most non-citizens living in the United States must inform U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when they change addresses. This does not mean that you must ask the U.S. government for permission to move houses. You just have to make sure you inform them after you move. Beyond complying with the law, this is important because USCIS will have updated address information for you when they have to mail you an important notice. This article explains how to go about notifying USCIS about a change of address and which foreigners have to do this under the law.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Written May 25, 2022
Do I Need To Update My Address With USCIS?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will likely need to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about your change of address. Some U.S. citizens may also need to update their address with USCIS if they are involved in a pending immigration case.
With a green card or another approved immigration status, you do not need USCIS’s approval to move to a different residence in the United States. But, you will need to let USCIS know that you have moved to a different location so that they may reach you in the future.
The following groups are not required to submit a USCIS change of address notification:
A visa holders (foreign diplomats)
G visa holders (government representatives of international organizations)
Visa waiver program members (non-immigrants who will be in the United States for less than 30 days)
All other immigration statuses require you to submit updated address information to USCIS. Most foreign nationals and U.S. citizens sponsoring an immigrant have to inform USCIS of any address changes. If you have a pending case, be sure to keep your current address updated with USCIS, as they send essential communications to you over mail.
Conditional and unconditional permanent residents must notify USCIS within 10 days of changing their residential address. Temporary visa holders, such as H-1B employment visa holders, must update their addresses with USCIS no more than 10 days after moving. U.S. citizens who are sponsoring immigration applications should report their address change within 30 days of moving.
How To Notify USCIS of a Change of Address
Non-U.S. citizens have two ways to submit a change of address to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You only need to complete one of the following two options:
You can submit USCIS’s online Change of Address Form. The form typically takes about five minutes to complete. You may request immediate email confirmation when you fill out the form. You will also receive a mailed confirmation of the address change in the next 15 days. If you filed your original paperwork online, you can choose this option by logging into your USCIS online account.
Another way to register a change of address is to file the paper form Form AR-11 or the “Alien’s Change of Address Card” to USCIS by mail. You must complete the form in black ink and sign the form. The form contains instructions on where you should mail your paperwork.
If you have any non-citizen dependents or other relatives, you must file a separate change of address notification for each individual. If you have any pending or recently approved immigration applications or petitions, like Form I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) or Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”), you should also update the old address you listed on those forms. If you update your address online, the USCIS website will give you the option of simultaneously updating your addresses for these applications.
How To Notify the NVC of a Change of Address
Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) portal gives you the option to update your addresses for pending applications or petitions simultaneously, you will have to directly contact the National Visa Center (NVC) for cases that have already moved to the NVC. For example, if USCIS has approved your Form I-130 or Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), they have already transitioned your case to the NVC.
You must use the NVC’s Public Inquiry Form to inform them of your new address. You should also notify the NVC if your phone number or email address has recently changed.
What Is the Change of Address Process for Victims of Crime?
If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) approved your stay in the United States as a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or violent crime, you won’t file your address change online.
Instead of filing online, you should print out, complete, and use certified, registered, or return receipt mail to send your Form AR-11 to USCIS. You should send your form to the following address:
U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: Humanitarian Division
Vermont Service Center
38 River Road
Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001
What Is the Change of Address Process for U.S. citizens?
U.S. citizens who are sponsoring pending applications have three ways to submit a change of address to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). U.S. citizens will only need to complete one of the following three options:
Submit USCIS’s online Change of Address Form. The form typically takes about five minutes to complete. U.S. citizens may request immediate email confirmation when they fill out the form. They will also receive a mailed confirmation of the address change in the next 15 days.
Call 1-800-375-5283 to inform USCIS about an address change.
Submit Form I-865, the Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address, to USCIS by mail. All sponsoring U.S. citizen family members must complete this form separately even if they all live at the same address.
In some cases, a sponsoring U.S. citizen spouse may have temporarily moved abroad. Sponsoring spouses must prove to the U.S. government that the United States is their official country of residence. Sponsoring spouses who move abroad temporarily should still provide a U.S. address for all communications from USCIS. They should not provide their temporary address for their stay abroad because USCIS will never send mail to a non-U.S. address.
If a sponsoring spouse cannot receive postal mail in the United States, they should provide USCIS with the address of a close relative or friend. Usually, USCIS only mails notices when they approve Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and when they forward green card application materials to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Once the NVC receives a sponsoring spouse’s application materials, the sponsoring spouse must provide any updated addresses to the NVC and not USCIS. They may do so by completing the NVC’s Public Inquiry Form.
Is a USPS Change of Address the Same as a USCIS Change of Address?
A U.S. Postal Service (USPS) change of address is not the same as a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change of address. When you contact USPS to change your mailing address, USPS does not notify USCIS. A USPS change of address will have no impact on the contact information that USCIS has on file for you. Most USCIS mailings aren’t forwarded by USPS, so you risk missing out on essential communications by not directly submitting a change of address with USCIS.
What Is the Penalty for Not Notifying USCIS of a Change of Address?
If you are a non-citizen who falls under one of the immigration statuses that requires you to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of your address change, you must comply. Failing to update your address is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and up to 30 days in jail.
Green card holders who willfully fail to report a change of address may even face deportation by USCIS. If you are a permanent resident and you fail to provide USCIS with your updated address within 10 days of moving, you risk deportation unless you can prove that:
Your failure to update your address with USCIS was “reasonably excusable.”
Your failure to update your address with USCIS was not “willful.”
Currently, U.S. immigration officials rarely pursue deportation of those who fail to change their address in time, but this may change in the future. You should always be safe by reporting your change of address and not risking your status in the United States.
U.S. citizen sponsors who do not report their address change within 30 days will not face legal prosecution but may cause USCIS to delay processing the immigrant’s application.
Even if you must submit your address change late, you should do so. If you did not submit an address change in the past, you should do so now and each time you move in the future. It’s always better late than never.