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Gail S. Seeram





All non-U.S. citizens (aliens) who have filed an application or petition for a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act and expect notification of a decision on that application are required to keep U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) informed of their current address. In addition, the USCIS may need to contact you to provide other issued documents or return original copies of evidence you submitted. It is also mandatory for any alien who has been designated as a “special registrant” to inform the USCIS whenever he or she has a change of address, employment or school. The special registrant rule is effective as of Sept. 11, 2002. For information about special registrant go to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.


In the past, INS, required every alien in the United States to report his or her address annually, in January. This requirement was eliminated in 1980 and annual reporting is no longer required. However, if you are not a U.S. citizen, the law still requires that you report any change of address change within 10 days of the change.


How Do I Report My Change of Address?

As announced on Jan. 12, 2007, USCIS launched a new web-based service allowing USCIS customers to submit change of address information online. If you are not a U.S. citizen, changing your address for legal purposes does not change your address on any application or petition pending with USCIS and changing your address on a pending application or petition does not meet the legal requirements of informing USCIS of your change of address.


For most cases, you can change your address on a pending petition and inform USCIS of your change of address by accessing the new web-based service provided by the USCIS website

(http://www.uscis.gov/AR-11). If you choose to use this online tool, you can complete an electronic Form AR-11 and notify USCIS to update your address on most pending cases. 


If you choose not to complete an electronic Form AR-11, you will be required to obtain a paper Form AR-11 and mail it to the address shown on the form. This will delay the process of notifying USCIS significantly. Not filing an electronic AR-11 and choosing to mail in a paper AR-11 will not update your address on any applications or petitions pending with USCIS.

Regardless of whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, if you choose not to use the electronic change of address notification, you will need to call customer service at 1-800-375-5283 to request that the address on your pending application/petition be changed.


If you are not a U.S. citizen and you have a case pending with USCIS, you will need to do both – call customer service and complete the paper AR-11. Completing an AR-11 does not update your address on any pending case. Also, notifying customer service does not meet the legal requirement of completing an AR-11. If you mail a paper Form AR-11, it is recommended to use certified, registered or return receipt mail. This is not currently a requirement of USCIS, however it is advisable to send the AR-11 by a method that will give you documentation that you did mail the form to USCIS, in case there should ever be a question.

Gail S. Seeram, an immigration attorney, handles cases involving family petitions, business/investors visas, citizenship, deportation, asylum, work authorization and extension of status. Call her office toll- free at 1-877-GAIL-LAW (1-877-424-5529), send an email at gail@go2lawyer.com or visit www.go2lawyer.com



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