As a noncitizen, it is your responsibility to inform the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) if there is a change in your place of residence. This is even valid for certain US citizens when they are involved in a pending case with the USCIS. It is easy and free to inform the USCIS if there is a change in your residence, therefore, there is no reason to skip this exercise. However, this is not to say that you are required to ask for USCIS’s approval before changing your residence.
Only the following types of noncitizen are not required to inform the USCIS about a change in your residence:
- Foreign Diplomats
- Government Representatives to international organizations
- Foreign nationals on a short stay visitor visas to the US for less than 30 days
Why Do You Need to Inform the USCIS of an Address Change?
It is mandatory to inform the USCIS of a change in your address since it is required by the law for the government agency to have your contact information. They may be required to contact you in regards to a pending case.
For example, if you have applied for US permanent residence, not responding to the mails by the USCIS may result in denial of your application. The USCIS will not call you to know why we weren't able to respond. But more importantly, since it is required by the law, not informing the USCIS about your address change is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment of up to 30 days. It may even get you deported unless you can prove that:
- The failure to report address change was due to a reasonable excuse or
- The failure to report was not willful
How to Inform the USCIS of Your Address Change
You are required to inform the USCIS within 10 days of any change in your address. Therefore, you must inform the USCIS 10 days before your moving day. You must file form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address, electronically or by mail. You must file this form with the information about your new address, old address, A-number, email address and also the receipt for any pending forms. If you apply electronically on the USCIS website, you can also update any pending petitions at the same time.
What Are the Options to Update Your Address?
You can use your USCIS account if you have any pending forms with the USCIS. Otherwise, you can use the online Change of Address on the website.
You can mail the Form AR-11. Certain immigrant categories require you to mail the form. If you mail your form, then it is recommended to call the USCIS at 1800-375-5282 to confirm that the USCIS has updated your address with your pending application.