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Moving Halfway through an Immigration Case

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What happens if I move halfway through my case? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington, D.C. People often have to move while their case is pending. And there are moves between countries. There are moves between cities. And there are moves within a USCIS offices' jurisdiction. And so let's talk about all those.

So of course, if you're talking about overseas, you're most likely talking about the beneficiary of a foreign immigrant visa application for that person moving. It is tricky for a foreign person to arrange for an embassy interview at someplace other than where they started. So, in other words, when you file the initial application with USCIS, and more importantly, when the case gets to the National Visa Center, the case will begin to start pointing towards one embassy. And if your beneficiary moves during that time, that can be problematic. It's hard to get an embassy interview at a third country, just generally. But moving halfway through, that's also extra problematic.

If the U.S. citizen moves, hopefully you'll have filed electronically and everything will be electronic, and your email will still get to the petitioner. So hopefully, on an overseas case, if the U.S. citizen or the lawful permanent resident petitioner moves, it shouldn't be that big a deal, as long as you make sure that NVC knows of your new address, because that's where the beneficiary's Green Card might come. And you want to make sure that your email address is up to date. If you stop receiving things after you move, then you probably know there's a problem.

Now, let's say that you are applying for a Green Card based on marriage, or you're applying for citizenship, and you move, and you move halfway through the case. So in other words, you file the application with one office, and then you're actually going to have your interview at another office. We've seen this cause delays of up to a year. So moving halfway through a case can be really problematic. We often encourage people to either wait to file until they get into their new address, or to stay, if they can, in the address that they've always had. So that's something that you really want to keep in mind.

Because let's think about it. So you file your application. USCIS puts in your address as, let's say, Phoenix, Arizona. And then halfway through, you move to Denver, Colorado. Not a big move from Phoenix to Denver, but in immigration land, it is a big move because we have to get your application out of the Phoenix queue and put it into the Denver queue. So that's going to add time. If you move before you get your work card, that's going to add even more time to that, too.

So of course, one of the ways to overcome this moving problem is to use an attorney. Because if you use an attorney, you'll know, if things work correctly, that the attorney is going to get a copy of everything. The attorney's going to be alerted of any updates on your case, receive mail. And in fact, you can have your attorney receive your work card and your Green Card. So unless the attorney's moving, which we've done once, and it's a big hassle as an immigration lawyer to actually move, unless you're actually moving... if the lawyer's moving, if you're the one that's moving, that can be a real problem. And having a lawyer with a constant address is really, really helpful.

Of course, if you move, you want to update your address right away. You don't want to play it too cute. You don't want to try and go back to your old city for an interview. The officers get upset about that because they think the officers in the new city should be working on the case, not them. So they usually don't like it when you try to come back to your old city for your interview. Your obligation under the law is to update USCIS of your address change within 10 days. If you don't do that, that could cause you a little bit of trouble.

If you move within your district, I think you're going to be fine. So for instance, if you live in Tempe and then move to Phoenix or some other part of Phoenix or some other part of Arizona but within the jurisdiction of the Phoenix USCIS field office, you should be fine. You just need to make sure that you update your address with USCIS, filing that AR-11. That's the name of the form that you use. That shouldn't slow down your case too much, although things do happen sometimes where the mail doesn't actually get sent. We've had plenty of cases where people file an AR-11. They have the proof of that. But they just don't get the case notices that they should get and then bad things happen. So moving can be problematic. Moving might be another time where, if you haven't had an attorney already, you might want to get an attorney when you move, just to sort of smooth things over and make sure that everybody's on the same page.

If you have an application that's halfway through and you're thinking about moving, or if you have any questions related to your addresses, give us a call (314) 961-8200. You can email us, [email protected] We have our Facebook group, it's called Immigrant Home. We'd love to have you join us in Immigrant Home. There's a lot of good immigration discussion in there every single day. I think we're up to almost 5,000 members. And then we have our YouTube channel that we update every single day with a new video. And then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon Central, you'll find me for an hour answering as many immigration law-related questions as I can. I probably won't be on this Thursday because I am traveling to New York for an interview, but we'll see you next time. If you have any questions, let us know. Thanks a lot.

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