Registration, Documents and Address Reporting Requirements for International Students
I. General Registration Requirements for Nonimmigrants
The registration process for most nonimmigrants occurs automatically in procedures that we are very familiar with: an initial registration takes place when an application for a visa is submitted at a U.S. Consular office; the required registration is completed upon admission into the United States in the issuance of Form I-94. Updates to registration are made in instances of extension of stay or a change of nonimmigrant status.
Evidence of registration - The standard evidence of registration for nonimmigrants is Form I-94. For more information about the I-94 please visit: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions.
Q1. What should I have with me when I travel?
A1. You need to carry a basic identity document such as your passport plus:
- For F-1 students and F-2 dependents: I-20 and I-94
- For J-1 students/scholars and J-2 dependents: DS-2019 and I-94
Q2. For each of the visa classifications listed in Q1, the Form I-94 is mentioned. Is it really that important? Are you sure I have one? Where would it usually be?
A2. Most I-94's are issued electronically now and can be viewed and printed at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. Those that are still issued in paper form will be stapled into the passports for safekeeping. Your I-94 is the most important document you hold inside the U.S., for it alone confirms that you were admitted into the country properly. Losing it places you in an extremely difficult position. We strongly advise that you print the electronic I-94 and carry it with your passport and visa documents and if you have been issued a paper I-94 do not remove it from your passport. It is always adviseable to keep photocopies of all of your documents in a safe place in case the originals are lost. If you have any question as to whether your documents are in order, please come by the UNF International Center to confirm their validity.
Q3. I heard that I have my documents with me "at all times." Is that true? Do I really have to carry my passport and documents with me to class every day and all over Jacksonville? Stuff could get lost or stolen.
A3. USCIS has generally not strictly enforced the "at all times" language. In practice the law has been satisfied by an expectation that you would be able to produce your documents within a reasonable time to get them from your apartment or safe deposit box, for example.
Q4. OK, I understand that I may need to carry and present my documents more often inside the U.S. What else do I need to know? Do you have any helpful hints?
A4. Two things to remember:
If you are traveling outside the U.S., and you hold a UNF-issued I-20 or DS-2019, you must make certain that the program end date on the document will still be current on the day you will re-enter the U.S. If your I-20/DS-2019 will expire before your return, then you must request a new document before you depart, and your request must be filed in the International Center two weeks prior to your travel. Also, be sure to get the required signature on your document before you leave to make sure you have no difficulties upon re-entry. To request a signature authorizing travel return a completed Travel Signature Form along with your I-20 or DS-2019 to the International Center.
Keep your travel documents together in a safe place while you are at UNF. When you travel domestically or internationally carry them with you on your person in a safe place, not tucked away in your luggage. II. Requirement to Report Changes of Address Within 10 Days
Recent revisions to U.S. immigration law require that you report a change in your address to the DSO at your educational institution. You should notify the UNF International Center of an address change by email at the following address: email@example.com. The International Center then has 21 days in which to notify USCIS by recording your new address in your SEVIS record.
If you are subject to Special Registration you must also submit form AR-11SR, Change of Address Special Registration directly to USCIS.
Penalties for willfully failing to notify USCIS about a change of address - It is also important to know that the law provides for penalties for failure to notify USCIS about an address change:
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. (INA 266(b))
The language of the proposed rule can be confusing but the major points are these:
- Anyone on an F and J visa must report their addresses as required by law within 10 days of moving.
- USCIS reserves the right to rely upon those reports to provide accurate current addresses for correspondence between the F or J visa holder and the Service.
- If USCIS chooses to use that address and it is inaccurate, the F or J visa holder is responsible for any instruction, notice, or other communication contained in the USCIS mailing, regardless of whether the F or J visa holder actually received the communication.
- USCIS holds the alien completely responsible for making the required address reports and may use failure to do so as a reason or contributing factor to apprehend, detain, or deport an individual.
Q5. What exactly is the rule about address reporting?
A5. 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 (i.e., to have an I-94 card or similar document confirming status), and you are required to make address reports as specified in the law.
Q6. How do I report my address? Where do I send it?
A6. The easiest way to report a change in your address to the International Center is by email at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also submit a change of address to the UNF Registrar's Office either through Osprey On-line (recommended) or in paper form.
Q7. What happens if I refuse to submit my address to USCIS?
A7. 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 USCIS has the authority to charge you with a crime, fine you $200, imprison you for 30 days, and then deport you. In practice USCIS has not used this violation alone to deport someone, but USCIS can add this to a list of violations such as overstay or unauthorized work, when they are building a case for deportation.
Q8. What if I did not know about this rule and have not reported my address, or if I forget and report late? What will USCIS do?
A8. 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 USCIS 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.
Q9. I still have questions about this. Who can answer my questions?
A9. Contact the International Center (Building 58 E, Room 2300), telephone (904) 620-2657.