All you need to know about reporting your address change to USCIS

Gabriela Peratello
07.28.21
6 minute read

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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Do Green Card holders need to notify USCIS of address changes?

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.

How do you change the address for your Green Card?

    📝 There are 2 ways for most people to change a registered Green Card address — and the good news is that they’re both online for convenience:
    • Update your details online using your USCIS account if you filed your original petition online⁴; or
    • Complete and submit Form AR-11 online, known as Alien’s Change of Address Card⁵

    Green Card applicants who can not change address online

    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.

    US Citizens

    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.

    What is the form AR-11 and who needs to file it?

    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.

    How do you report address change if you were a victim of crime?

    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.

    What information do you need to update your address with USCIS?

    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

    When should you notify USCIS of your address update?

    Inform USCIS of your address change no later than 10 days after the move has happened.

    white-house-with-us-flag

    Common questions for address change

    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.

    Does changing your address delay your Green Card?

    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.

    Can an address change jeopardize your immigration status?

    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.

    What can happen if you don’t update your address in time?

    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.

    What happens if you move countries?

    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.

    What should you do in case of having a temporary address?

    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.


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    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.


    Sources:

    1. US Code > title 8 > chapter 12 > subchapter II > part VII > section 1306
    2. USCIS - Address change
    3. USCIS - AR-11
    4. USCIS - My account
    5. USCIS - COA form
    6. USCIS - I-865
    7. USCIS - Form AR-11
    8. US Customs and Border Protection - FAQ

    Sources checked on 07.23.2021


    This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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