“I have a green card for the past 10 years. I do not want to become a U.S. citizen as I don’t feel the need, and I will probably move back to Ireland someday. I have heard that people who have green cards have to report their address to U.S. immigration periodically. Is this true? I have never done so. Could I be in trouble?”
You refer to a little known provision that is a requirement of all non-U.S. citizens. The Alien Registration Act was actually passed in 1940, and had required all non-citizens to notify U.S. immigration of their current address at the start of each year.
That provision of the act was suspended in 1980, but aliens are still required to notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) of an address change within 10 days of the move. This, of course, is especially important in instances where an alien has business pending with the agency, and may be waiting to hear about an interview appointment or some other matter.
The form to complete for changing an address is AR-11, and is available to download at www.uscis.gov
. There is no filing fee.
What happens if an alien doesn’t comply with the change of address provision. Basically, nothing. There is no tracking method that USCIS uses to keep tabs on where aliens are residing; God knows the agency has many other more important tasks at hand. So don’t worry that you’ll be in any trouble.
Your question proved interesting to research. The background to the passage of the Alien Registration Act was particularly informative, one which readers may enjoy. Here’s some of it, as provided by the USCIS:
“As hostilities in Europe turned into war in September 1939, the U.S. continued to assert its neutrality while protecting itself from all perceived threats. Though a nation of immigrants, proud of its diversity, American citizens and their representatives in Congress were also worried about foreigners within the U.S., some purportedly working as foreign agents, others working in U.S. industry, and others joining the United States military. In this atmosphere, the Alien Registration Act
was passed on June 28, 1940.
"This act required the immediate registration of all aliens resident in the United States. Out of a total population of 132 million, five million aliens were registered within the four-month window mandated by the act.
"This massive undertaking led to establishment of new units and development of new procedures within the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Under this act, each alien in the U.S. received an alien registration number ("A-number") and was required to carry an Alien Registration Receipt.
"In what might have been a program limited only to the duration of World War II, the alien registration system and the A-numbers that were assigned under it became an integral and ongoing part of the immigration process. To this day, each alien has an A-number, and the A-number system itself has become the principal identifier of almost all aliens for almost all immigration processing. Almost all (USCIS) documents carry the alien’s specific A-number.
"After years of discussion, the Alien Registration Act of 1940 was passed and signed into law on June 28. Reportedly, one of the main stumbling blocks during those years was opposition to fingerprinting aliens – the question of whether to treat a small group of people differently from the majority, or, if not, should we then extend the fingerprint requirement to all Americans, too. In 1940, the issue was resolved, and only aliens would be fingerprinted.”