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All Non-citizens To Report Change of Address

A long-ignored, 50-year-old immigration rule could be back. On July 26th, the Justice Department announced that it will soon bring penalties against non-citizens, including green card holders, who fail to report address changes within a 10-day period. Penalties could include a fine of up to $200, as many as 30 days in jail and possible deportation.

In addition to complying with the existing law, non-citizen immigrants must also acknowledge having received notice of their obligation to keep the INS informed of their current address. The immigrant will then be held responsible for notifying the INS of an address change. Placing the responsibility on the immigrant is in response to a ruling by the Federal Immigration Appeals Board. Last year, the Board ruled that foreigners could no longer be deported unless they could be located and notified about the deportation order.

Attorney General John Ashcroft insists that enforcing the address requirement will help the government keep better track of foreigners and will be a valuable tool to fight terrorism. However, immigration advocates and critics both question the INS’ ability to enforce this rule, especially with the build-up of pending applications as well as all the agency’s dysfunctional nature. Many believe that the INS is not prepared to handle the additional paperwork and it will ultimately lead to a “paperwork nightmare.”

This rule is currently posted in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period and the INS expects to begin enforcing the regulation shortly thereafter. The renewal of the 10-day address notification law could affect up to 11 million U.S. non-citizens and will require the INS to update more than 30 different forms.

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