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CIS Ombudsman Teleconference: Change of Address - May 26, 2009
1. Effect of Filing Form AR-11 – A caller asked whether the filing of a Form AR-11 updates the address of record for all pending case matters. Please explain.
USCIS Response: Section 265 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in conjunction with Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 265.1, requires that all foreign nationals who are required to apply for registration pursuant to Section 221(b) or 262(a) of the INA use Form AR-11 to notify USCIS of any changes of address within ten days of the change. Form AR-11 does not serve to notify USCIS Service Centers or District Offices of changes of address for pending applications or petitions. Therefore, Service Centers and District Offices with jurisdiction over individual cases must be separately notified. This is an important distinction to note. Likewise, if a foreign national has an application or petition pending at a USCIS Service Center or District Office and notifies that Service Center or District Office of a change of address while the application or petition is pending, that report does not meet the requirements of Section 265 of the INA. A change of address report must also be filed on Form AR-11 at the addresses listed above.
However, if individuals choose to update their address using Change of Address Online, they will complete an electronic Form AR-11 and will also be prompted to submit a separate electronic change of address for each pending case. Change of Address Online users, therefore, should not submit a separate paper Form AR-11.
Foreign nationals who choose to update their address on an application or petition pending with USCIS via the NCSC or via correspondence, must submit a separate Form AR-11 to satisfy the requirements of Section 265 of the INA.
2. Change of Address Filed with the NCSC – A caller asked if a change of address submitted through the NCSC for one case matter will automatically update all other pending cases. If not, why?
USCIS Response: Customers must provide the receipt number for each application/petition that they are updating. The customer service representative at the NCSC will submit a change of address service request for a specific pending case. The Service Request Management Tool (SRMT), the system used to generate service requests, only allows for one service request at a time per application/petition.
The use of the NCSC to update an address on a pending application or petition does not satisfy the requirements of INA 265. If a foreign national uses the NCSC to update their address on an application or petition pending with USCIS, he or she must also submit a separate Form AR-11 to satisfy the requirements of INA 265.
3. Confirmation of Change of Address – A caller asked if USCIS would issue a confirmation that it has processed a change of address request. Does the answer depend on whether the change of address was made using Change of Address Online, through the National Customer Service Center (NCSC), or through a paper filing?
USCIS Response: Yes, it does depend on the method of notification. Customers will receive a confirmation of any change of address notification that is done via the USCIS Contact Center or Change of Address Online; customers who submit changes of address by mail will not receive a confirmation. Customers may find it helpful to mail change of address forms (Form AR-11) certified with a return receipt so that they receive confirmation that the change of address request has been submitted.
The USCIS Contact Center phone number is 1-800-375-5283.
The electronic change of address system is available online.
AR-11 Forms submitted by mail should be sent to:
Department of Homeland Security
Change of Address
P.O. Box 7134
London, KY 40742
AR-11 Forms submitted by mail via commercial overnight or freight services should be sent to:
Department of Homeland Security
Change of Address
1084-I South Laurel Road
London, KY 40742
4. 10-Day Notification Requirement for Change of Address – A caller asked whether the 10-day notification requirement that obligates foreign nationals to update USCIS with their current address applies to nonimmigrants arriving in the United States for the first time. Are there any exceptions?
USCIS Response: Yes, this requirement applies to all foreign nationals who are required to apply for registration pursuant to Section 221(b) or 262(a) of the INA, with the exception of certain diplomats and employees of international organizations (A and G visa holders). Section 265 of the INA requires that all such foreign nationals notify USCIS of any changes of address within ten days of the change. Nonimmigrants provide an address on their Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, upon arrival in the United States. If their address changes from what they reported upon arrival, they will need to submit a Form AR-11 within ten days of the change in address.
Note: If such foreign nationals also have applications or petitions pending with USCIS, they may simultaneously update their address for most applications or petitions and satisfy INA 265 by utilizing the Change of Address Online. Otherwise, they must submit a Form AR-11 and a separate request to update their address on pending applications or petitions.
Addresses on application or petitions for which you do not have a receipt number, applications or petitions that were filed at a local office, and applications or petitions that were filed outside the United States cannot be updated online. To update an address in those situations, you should call the NCSC or submit an AR-11.
5. No Request in USCIS System – A caller asked what to do if s/he mailed in a change of address request, but USCIS advised that there is no request in the system. Such fact patterns typically involve cases where the customer has missed an appointment or deadline because the notice was sent to the earlier address of record. What can customers do to minimize this problem?
USCIS Response: We recommend that all customers utilize Change of Address Online whenever possible. Change of Address Online satisfies the requirements of INA 265 and customers can use Change of Status Online to update most applications and petitions pending with USCIS. Additionally, Change of Address Online will provide a confirmation number. Please note that when using Change of Address Online, customers must separately change the address for each pending application or petition.
6. What is the Best Way to Notify USCIS of a Change of Address? – A caller asked if USCIS has stated a preference on how customers should notify the Agency of a change of address. Please explain.
USCIS Response: We recommend that all customers utilize Change of Address Online whenever possible. Change of Address Online satisfies the requirements of INA 265 and can be used to update the address on most applications and petitions pending with USCIS. Additionally, Change of Address Online will provide a confirmation number.
7. Is a Form AR-11 Change of Address Needed When Living Outside the United States? – A caller asked whether lawful permanent residents have an obligation to notify USCIS of a change of address when they are temporarily living outside the United States. If so, how do they meet this obligation? May they notify USCIS through the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where they are temporarily residing?
USCIS Response: Section 265 of the INA states that individuals who are “within the United States” must notify USCIS of a change of address within ten days of the change. While permanent residents do not have an obligation to notify USCIS of their addresses abroad, lengthy absences, particularly if they involve work or taking up residence abroad, can lead to abandonment and loss of permanent residence status, or delayed eligibility for naturalization.
8. Attorney Change of Address – One caller asked how attorneys who have moved can notify USCIS of their office address change. Does USCIS have a simple method whereby attorneys can notify USCIS of all pending cases where they are listed as attorneys of record to reduce complexity, error, and paperwork? Please explain.
USCIS Response: USCIS recommends (but does not require) that the attorney submit a new fully completed and updated, signed Form G-28 for each pending case. Attorneys should use the new version of the Form G-28 (revised on April 22, 2009) and should submit the form to the office where the case is pending. The Form G-28 should reference the case’s receipt number. In the alternative, the attorney may submit a letter on office stationery that clearly specifies the new address and change in firm, if applicable. The letter should include a list of cases to which the address change applies. Please include the Form Type, Receipt Number, A Number, and the applicant or petitioner’s name in a spreadsheet format similar to that below.