Whatever your reason is for moving to the US, this guide aims to help you figure out the most important costs you'll face when you live there.
If you’re a current Green Card holder, or if you’ve applied for US permanent resident status, you need to know about the USCIS change of address process. You’ll need to file a Green Card change of address online, or in some cases in hard copy, to keep your case file up to date and avoid penalties. This also applies to Green Card sponsors, and holders of some other visa categories.
Read on for the complete guide to Green Card holder address change.
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The short answer here is yes. If you have a pending application or appeal with USCIS, or you’re a current Green Card holder, you need to keep your address records up to date. This is both a practical matter — USCIS needs your address to mail you updates on your case — and a legal one. It’s a legal requirement to update your address with USCIS as soon as you can after moving.
According to US immigration law, failing to update your address with USCIS can be treated as a misdemeanor offence with a penalty of up to 200 USD. If it’s judged you willfully failed to register your change of address the penalty can be up to 1,000 USD or jail time. You’re required to inform USCIS within 10 days of a move, even if you’re only staying somewhere temporarily¹.
These rules apply to people with pending USCIS cases, conditional Green Card holders, permanent residents of the US, and other people on temporary visa statuses².
If you’re a US citizen and acting as a sponsor to someone hoping to move to the US under a Green Card you’ll also need to update your address with USCIS. In this case there are no penalties for failing to do so — but you may miss important correspondence regarding the case. This could mean that the individual you’re sponsoring misses their chance to get a Green Card.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to change your registered address with USCIS. Most people can do so online, with some categories of applicants required to complete and mail in Form AR-11 instead³. We’ll cover this in more detail in a moment.
There are a few exceptions to the online filing rule, as some categories of Green Card applicants and holders do need to complete and mail back Form AR-11. This includes:
- Victims of domestic violence, trafficking and other crimes
- Applicants who have submitted Form I-751 to apply for a waiver from the joint filing requirement for a marriage related Green Card
In both these cases, change of address information will go to the USCIS humanitarian division instead of the regular point of filing. The correct mailing address depends on where your original application was filed — get the right address for your needs, online.
If you’re a US citizen and have filed a petition for someone as part of their Green Card application, you’ll also need to complete and mail back Form I-865: Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address⁶.
Form AR-11 — Alien’s Change of Address Card is completed by any Green Card holder or applicant who moves home, unless they have a USCIS online account. If you have a USCIS online account already, you can update your address there without needing to complete the form.
Most people can file AR-11 online, aside from the exceptional cases outlined above.
If you were a victim of a crime which has impacted your Green Card application such as domestic violence or trafficking, you’ll need to complete the Form AR-11 in hard copy and mail it to the USCIS humanitarian division.
When you complete the AR-11 form or update your information on your USCIS online account you’ll need to enter⁷:
- Your full name and immigration status
- Country of citizenship
- Alien registration number if you have one
- New residential address
- Previous residential address
Inform USCIS of your address change no later than 10 days after the move has happened.
Dealing with the immigration process can be daunting, with lots of paperwork and legal requirements to think about. Here are the answers to a few common questions about USCIS Green Card address change. There are also lots of online resources available directly from USCIS if you need more.
Changing address should not make any difference to your Green Card application as long as you keep your address details up to date. If you do not, you may miss important correspondence from USCIS which can cause your case to be delayed or even closed.
It is a legal requirement to keep your USCIS address record up to date, even if you have already received US permanent resident status. Failing to comply may result in penalties, up to and including deportation. However, if you report your address change properly, there should be no problem.
There are penalties for failing to update your address with USCIS. However, USCIS will typically prioritize pursuing people who deliberately did not update their address, or who are in some other way acting fraudulently.
If you simply forgot to update or missed the deadline, the most important thing is to get your address updated with USCIS as soon as possible. Complete the process as set out above as soon as you can.
If you have a pending Green Card application, or you’re a Green Card holder already you’ll still need to notify USCIS of your move if you change countries. Don’t forget that Green Card holders intending to leave the US for a year or more must apply for a re-entry permit prior to leaving to ensure they are granted re-entry to the US on return⁸.
Even if your address is only temporary, you’ll need to update it with USCIS as soon as you can, and no later than 10 days after you move.
Wise offers low fee international payments which use the mid-market exchange rate with no markups. That can be 6x cheaper than your regular bank. Get the Wise Multi-currency Account to manage your money across different currencies, before you even arrive in the US. You’ll get US local bank details to receive payments and can convert currencies quickly in the Wise app for a low fee. Best of all you’ll always get the mid-market exchange rate, so you save versus most banks.
Getting your Green Card is a long process — and even once you hold your permanent resident status you’ll need to keep on top of the legal requirements, such as informing USCIS of a change of address. Luckily the Green Card change of address process isn’t particularly tricky, and can usually be done online for convenience. Use this guide to start you off, change your address in a timely manner — and you can relax.
- US Code > title 8 > chapter 12 > subchapter II > part VII > section 1306
- USCIS - Address change
- USCIS - AR-11
- USCIS - My account
- USCIS - COA form
- USCIS - I-865
- USCIS - Form AR-11
- US Customs and Border Protection - FAQ
Sources checked on 07.23.2021
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