Requirements to Carry Immigration Registration Document and Report Change of Address

March 10, 2017


Nonimmigrants and lawful permanent residents must make sure to do these two things. The penalty for not doing so can be severe, under long-standing laws.

  • Carry their immigration registration document - Nonimmigrants and lawful permanent residents must carry their "evidence of registration" document at all times. Usually, this is Form I-94 for nonimmigrants, or Form I-551 (green card) for lawful permanent residents.
  • Report address changes within 10 days - All aliens living in the United States must report any change of address within 10 days of the address change.

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intensifies its immigration compliance efforts, advisers should review these two important requirements with their students and scholars. This NAFSA advisory provides some helpful background.

General registration and document-carry requirements

To begin, "registration" does not refer to a new "special registration" or "NSEERS" requirement. The registration process for most nonimmigrants occurs automatically in procedures that we are very familiar with: an initial registration takes place when the alien submits an application for a visa at a U.S. consular office; the required registration is completed when the alien is admitted to the United States and is issued Form I-94. Registrations are updated when an alien applies for an extension of stay or a change of nonimmigrant status. Every alien in the United States must "carry with him and have in his personal possession" evidence of having been "registered" in the U.S. immigration system. This is not a new requirement... it has been in place for decades. [INA 221(b), INA 261, INA 262, INA 264; 8 CFR Part 264]

Evidence of registration

DHS regulations at 8 CFR 264.1(b) list the following documents as acceptable evidence of registration:

  • I-94, Arrival-Departure Record - Aliens admitted as nonimmigrants; aliens paroled into the United States under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; aliens whose claimed entry prior to July 1, 1924 cannot be verified, but who have satisfactorily established residence in the United States since prior to July 1, 1924; and aliens granted permission to depart voluntarily without the institution of removal proceedings.
    • Carrying a printout of an electronic Form I-94 can satisfy this requirement (8 CFR 1.4(f))
    • A pending application to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged Form I-94 "is temporary evidence of registration" under 8 CFR 264.6(c).
  • I-95, Crewmen's Landing Permit - Crewmen arriving by vessel or aircraft.
  • I-184, Alien Crewman Landing Permit and Identification Card - Crewmen arriving by vessel.
  • I-185, Nonresident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card - Citizens of Canada or British subjects residing in Canada.
  • I-186, Nonresident Alien Mexican Border Crossing Card - Citizens of Mexico residing in Mexico.
  • I-221, Order to Show Cause and Notice of Hearing - Aliens against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.
  • I-221S, Order to Show Cause, Notice of Hearing, and Warrant for Arrest of Alien - Aliens against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.
  • I-551, Permanent Resident Card - Lawful permanent resident of the United States.
  • I-688, Temporary Resident Card - Lawful temporary residents of the United States.
  • I-688A, Employment Authorization Card.
  • I-688B, Employment Authorization Document.
  • I-766, Employment Authorization Document.
  • A valid, unexpired nonimmigrant DHS admission or parole stamp in a foreign passport

Requirement to carry the immigration registration document

Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires every alien 18 years of age and over to "carry with him and have in his personal possession" his or her "evidence of registration document" (such as Form I-94 or green card) "at all times," including when traveling domestically or just going about daily life. INA 264(e) also establishes rather severe penalties for not carrying the registration document:

"Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both."

Advisers should counsel nonimmigrants, lawful permanent residents, and other aliens they advise, regarding this requirement.

Automated electronic I-94 system and personal possession of registration document

8 CFR 1.4 provides that,

(d) The term "original I-94" includes, but is not limited to, any printout or electronic transmission of information from DHS systems containing the electronic record of admission or arrival/departure.


(f) The term "possession" with respect to a Form I–94 includes, but is not limited to, obtaining a copy or printout of the record of an electronic evidence of admission or arrival/departure from the appropriate CBP systems.

Advisers should counsel individuals admitted under the automated electronic I-94 system that began on April 30, 2013, that they can visit and print out a record of their electronic Form I-94 to comply with the INA 264 requirement.

The admission stamp in the passport of an alien admitted with an electronic I-94 also serves as evidence of registration for this purpose (This stamp was added to the list of documents that constitute evidence of registration by a note to 8 CFR 261.1(b) in the I-94 automation rule at 78 Fed.Reg. 18457 (March 27, 2013), effective April 26, 2013]. However, on a daily basis it may be more convenient to carry an I-94 printout than the passport to comply with INA 264(e). When flying domestically, it may be a good idea to carry the passport, Form I-94 printout, and any relevant status document such as Form I-20, DS-2019, Form I-797, etc.

Requirement to replace lost, stolen, or mutilated Forms I-94 or other registration document

8 CFR 264.1(c) requires that "[a]ny alien whose registration document is not available for any reason must immediately apply for a replacement document in the manner prescribed by USCIS."

Individuals who have an electronic Form I-94 who lose their print-out may simply access to print out a new one.

An individual who does not have an electronic I-94 must apply to USCIS on Form I-102 for a replacement if their paper Form I-94 is lost, stolen, or mutilated. Under 8 CFR 264.6(c), a pending application for a replacement I-94 is considered "temporary evidence of registration."

Replacement of other kinds of registration documents such as a green card, an EAD, etc., are requested on other forms. For example:

Requirement to report changes of address

Another requirement, related to the "registration" requirement, is that aliens living in the United States for 30 days or longer must report to USCIS any change of address, within 10 days of the address change. [INA 265(a); 8 CFR 265.1]

  • USCIS has designated Form AR-11 to be used for this purpose. The USCIS website has the most current version of Form AR-11 and the mailing address for that form
  • The change of address can also be filed online through the USCIS website; if you use the online change of address, do not file a paper Form AR-11

The law also provides for rather severe penalties for failing to notify USCIS about an address change. INA 266(b) states:

"Any alien or any parent or legal guardian in the United States of any alien who fails to give written notice [of an address change] 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."

F, M, J compliance with address reporting requirement through SEVIS

Students and exchange visitors in F, M, or J status must comply with their address-change reporting obligation by notifying the P/DSO or A/RO of their school or exchange visitor program of an address change within 10 calendar days of the change. The F-1 or M-1 school must then update SEVIS with the new address within 21 days of receiving the new address information from the F-1 or M-1 student; J exchange visitor programs must update SEVIS with this information within 10 business days of receiving the new address from the exchange visitor. [see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(17); 8 CFR 214.2(m)(18); 8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(viii); 22 CFR 62.10(d)(3)-(4)]