By Attorney Farhad Sethna © 2014
If you are not a US Citizen, and you are residing in the USA, the law requires that you have to let the USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) know your current address at all times. While it may seem a very simple process to change an address with USCIS, in reality the process is not so simple. Here are four processes that I recommend:
1. For just an address change – no applications pending at the USCIS:
If you don’t have a pending application with the USCIS, you still have to file a change of address anytime you move. The USCIS requires that a separate notice be filed with the general location and a separate change of address be filed with the specific filed office or service center handling the application. To do so, you need to complete and file form AR-11 with the USCIS.
As of January 2014, a general change of address needs to be filed at: USCIS, Change of Address, 1344 Pleasants Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.
2. For an address change AND while an application is pending at the USCIS:
First of all, you have to understand that there are two separate address databases within the USCIS. One of those databases pertain to the specific case that you have filed or the specific application that is pending either at a USCIS service center or at a USCIS district office. In order to update your address on that specific case, you need to change your address with that specific office, noting your specific case number so it can be “matched up” with your case file.
You also have to file another change of address to notify the USCIS of the address change, so that the general USCIS address database can be updated, as discussed in number 1, above.
Please note that even after you become a US Citizen, you still have to inform the USCIS of your address changes as suggested above if you are the petitioner on any an immigration application or have completed a form I-864, Affidavit of Support, for an immigrant visa petition.
3. Change your address online through the USCIS website. I would strongly recommend that you perform this step as well, and keep a printout of any information that you have filled in for your records. This will serve as an additional safeguard to inform the USCIS of any change of address.
4. Change your address with the post office so that any mail regarding your application or petition can be forwarded to you. You must make these changes either before you move or immediately thereafter. If you fail to do so, important mail regarding your petition could be lost and consequently, you may never respond to a request from the USCIS. The USCIS will then deny your petition and close your file, causing you to lose valuable time, money, and placing yourself or the beneficiary of the application into serious immigration problems.
Process for filing change of address:
Change of address should be filed with the USCIS on form AR-11. Please fill out the form completely and clearly. I advise the following:
If the change of address pertains to a specific case, then on the margin of the form, handwrite the specific case number such as “Pertains to Case #ABC-12-345-67890”
Please make copies of any completed change of address forms for your own records. Please send any forms AR-11 to the USCIS by certified mail or some other trackable process. Make sure that you keep a copy of the change of address form and a copy of each delivery notification so you have proof that the USCIS received your change of address.
As a final precaution, please remember that it takes some time for the USCIS to update addresses. Therefore, be sure to inform people who may be living at your prior address to be aware for any mail from the USCIS and to forward it to you if they receive it.
Taking these simple steps can avoid a great deal of hardship later on!
Copyright, Farhad Sethna, Attorney, 2014
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. He is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.