What is Form AR-11?
Filing a change of address with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a simple but important task for foreign nationals who are in the United States. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 265(a), "each alien required to be registered under this title who is within the United States shall notify the attorney general in writing of each change of address and new address within ten days from the date of such change and furnish with such notice such additional information as the attorney general may require by regulation." Any non-citizens, including permanent residents, who reside in the U.S. should use Form AR-11, the Alien’s Change of Address Card, to report their change of address within 10 days of moving to the new address. Form AR-11 is available both in paper and electronic form on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/ar-11.
Form AR-11 does not require a fee, only basic information such as your name, country of citizenship, birth date, old and new addresses, alien number if you have one and your signature. If you file Form AR-11 online, you will receive an immediate confirmation and you should keep this confirmation for your records. If you send the Form AR-11 by mail, you should keep a proof of mail receipt.
Why is it important to file AR-11?
The primary form of contact between USCIS and the applicant is by mail. If USCIS does not have a correct address on file, they will not be able to notify the applicant of any decision on an immigration application or petition. For example, if a problem arises concerning an immigrant benefit form that was previously filed, USCIS will contact the applicant for clarification. Often, the reply has to be made within a specific time period. If the address on file is not correct, the applicant may not receive the correspondence from USCIS or he or she may receive it too late. This may result in a negative decision on the pending immigration benefit.
In religious worker cases, site visits by immigration officers are more frequent than ever. It is imperative that applicants file a Form AR-11 in a timely manner to report a change of address so that immigration officers who perform site visits go to the correct location. If there is a negative site visit report, such as a USCIS officer showing up at the old address and failing to verify the religious worker’s employment, USCIS adjudicators can revoke an approved petition or deny a pending petition.
Even if a person does not currently have a case pending with USCIS, all non-citizens must keep the USCIS informed of their current addresses. It is required by law, and failure to report a change of address is punishable by fine or imprisonment and/or removal (INA Section 266). USCIS explicitly states on its website that “failure to comply could jeopardize [an alien’s] ability to obtain a future visa or other immigration benefit” in the future.