Office of International Affairs (OIA)
Address Reports Required of Aliens in the U.S.
on DHS Form AR-11
When you report your change of address, please come to OIA to fill-out:
- Personal Update Form and
- The AR-11 change of address online
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the formal name for the immigration laws, requires any alien in the U.S. to report his or her address to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within ten (10) days of the change of address. This FAQ will help you understand your responsibilities and how to meet them.
- What exactly is the rule about address reporting?
- Who is an alien and why does DHS use that term?
- I know that I have filled in my address on lots of forms, but why haven't I heard about this direct reporting requirement before?
- If INS has not been maintaining its address files and has not been enforcing the law, then why should I start reporting my address now?
- How do I report my address? Where do I send it?
- I do not like the idea of reporting my address to DHS. What happens if I just refuse to do it?
- What if I did not know about this rule and have not reported my address, or if I forget and report late? What will DHS do?
- I may be moving around a lot. My box number is the most accurate address to reach me. Why does USCIS want to know every time I move?
- I am just a student or scholar. I study, I do my research, or I teach. I am not doing anything wrong. Why would USCIS or any other law enforcement agent want to find me?
- I still have questions about this. Who can answer my questions?
INA Section 265(a) reads:
"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."
If you are an alien physically present within the U.S. then you are required to be registered (e.g. to have an I-94 card or similar document confirming status), and you are required to make address reports as specified in the law.
"Alien" is a legal term, and was used in law long before "War of the Worlds," "Star Trek," and "Star Wars." Per the definition at INA Section 101(a): "The term 'alien' means any person not a citizen or national of the United States." That definition is very direct and clear. You acquire U.S. citizenship by being born in the U.S or to U.S. parents or by naturalizing. You become a national of the U.S. by being born in one of the outlying possessions of the United States or to parents who are nationals of the U.S. If you have B, F, J, H, O, TN, or LPR ("green card") status or any other immigration document allowing you to be in the U.S., then you are considered to be an "alien" under the legal definition.
This law has been "on the books" for a very long time, but over the years INS has placed a low priority on enforcing the law and collecting and recording address changes. Indeed, INS has generally not had the manpower or resources to record address changes even if they were reported. In practice, INS has been interested primarily in addresses directly connected with a benefit or approval notice that DHS would have to mail back to the alien.
The law is the law, and even though INS may not have enforced it in the past, Congress and law enforcement are now very interested in aliens in the U.S. It is a good idea to know your responsibilities and comply with the law.
Within 10 days of any address change, you must report your address to the USCIS at: https://egov.uscis.gov/crisgwi/go?action=coa.
You also must report your address to Thomas Jefferson University Office of International Affairs in M-70 Jefferson Alumni Hall.
INA Section 266(b) states
"Any alien or any parent or legal guardian in the United States of any alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required by section 265 of this title, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $200 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. Irrespective of whether an alien is convicted and punished as herein provided, any alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required by section 265, shall be taken into custody and removed in the manner provided by chapter 4 of this title, unless such alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such failure was reasonably excusable or was not willful."
In short, if you make a choice or decision not to report, a willful act, then DHS has the authority to charge you with a crime, fine you $200, imprison you for 30 days, and then deport you. In practice INS has not used this violation alone to deport someone, but INS can add this to a list of violations such as overstay or unauthorized work, when they are building a case for deportation.
The USCIS, through the office of the Attorney General, has the authority to forgive such failures provided the failure to report "was reasonably excusable or was not willful."
That means that you need to report properly and promptly, but that DHS will generally not take an action against you just because you missed a deadline or didn't know you needed to report, provided that you act in good faith and send the report once you know you have to report or realize you have missed the deadline.
Members of Congress and DHS and other government agencies have indicated to schools that they want to know where aliens live, including students and scholars, so that they can find them if necessary.
There could be many reasons. The most common, of course have to do with events, such as the recent terrorist acts, that cause the government to launch investigations.
Please contact the Office of International Affairs.