When you are moving, there are countless things to remember. I’m currently in the process of moving and the sheer number of things to do can feel overwhelming. There are utilities to set up, clothes to pack, and dozens of places to change your address – the post office, the bank, with your employer, and several others that I will probably remember in about a week or two. If you have an application pending with USCIS or if you are in removal proceedings (Immigration Court), you must notify USCIS or the Court as quickly as possible of your new address.
If you have an application pending with USCIS, you have to change your address within ten days of moving. [8 CFR § 265.1] Why? Because where you live determines where your case is adjudicated. If you move to a different state or even a different city, your interview or your naturalization ceremony will be scheduled based on your address that USCIS has on file. Even if your application won’t have an interview USCIS will send you important information (such as biometric appointments and the decision on your case) by mail. If USCIS mails you instructions to take your biometrics or submit additional information and you don’t respond your application can be considered abandoned.
If you are in removal proceedings, you have to change your address within five days of moving. [8 CFR § 1003.15(d)] The Court also requires you to complete the change of address form if you change your phone number. Remember that you also need to send the change of address to the Department of Homeland Security so they can update their system as well. Unlike with USCIS, if you move the Court won’t automatically move your case to a court closer to your new residence. In order to change where your court date is, you will need to file a Motion to Change Venue to ask the Court to move your case.
Besides being a requirement, changing your address is also a good defense in case there is ever an administrative error in your case. There have been cases (I have had a few!) where USCIS or DHS claimed to send an appointment or hearing notice that the applicant or respondent never received. USCIS or DHS will have to show that they correctly mailed your notice, and if you properly changed your address, you will have an extremely compelling argument. This can mean the difference between rescheduling the appointment or hearing and facing harsh consequences such as having to leave the United States.
By: Valerie Tarbutton
McCrummen Immigration Law Group