The U.S. Patriot Act requires MK/International Students at Cedarville University to report a change of address to the office of international student services within 10 days of moving.
What exactly is the rule about address reporting?
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 10 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 (e.g., to have an I-94 card or similar document confirming status), and you are required to make address reports as specified in the law.
Who is an alien and why does CIS use that term?
"The term 'alien' means any person not a citizen or national of the United States." That definition is very direct and clear. You acquire U.S. citizenship by being born in the U.S. or to U.S. parents or by naturalizing. You become a national of the U.S. by being born in one of the outlying possessions of the United States or to parents who are nationals of the U.S. If you have F, J, H, O, TN, or LPR ("green card") status or any other immigration document allowing you to be in the U.S., then you are considered to be an "alien" under the legal definition.
I know that I have filled in my address on lots of forms, but why haven't I heard about this direct reporting requirement before? If CIS has not been maintaining its address files and has not been enforcing the law, then why should I start reporting my address now?
The law is the law, and even though CIS may not have enforced it in the past, Congress and law enforcement are now very interested in aliens in the U.S. It is a good idea to know your responsibilities and comply with the law.
How do I report my address? Where do I send it?
During an academic semester, you can fulfill your address reporting obligation by completing the Cedarville University Change of Address Form and mailing it to the Cedarville University registrar or dropping it by the registrar's office within 10 days of your move.
During the lengthy school breaks, you should also report your address on form AR-11. DHS-CIS posts this form on its website. It loads in Adobe as a fillable form, so you may fill it out online, print it, and mail it to the office of international student services at Cedarville University. You must sign the form. When you complete your address report, please print an extra copy and send it to the office of international student services at 251 N. Main Street, Founders Hall, Room 305, Cedarville, OH 45314. That will help us keep your address current here as well.
I do not like the idea of reporting my address to CIS. What happens if I just refuse to do it?
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 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $200 or be imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both. Irrespective of whether an alien is convicted and punished as herein provided, an alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required, 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." Willful failure to register is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed six months and a fine of not more than $1000 or both.
In short, if you make a choice or decision not to report, a willful act, then DHS-CIS has the authority to charge you with a crime, fine you, imprison you, and then deport you. In practice DHS-CIS has not used this violation alone to deport someone, but DHS-CIS can add this to a list of violations, such as overstay or unauthorized work, when they are building a case for deportation.
What if I did not know about this rule and have not reported my address, or if I forgot and report late? What will CIS do?
The CIS, 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 DHS-CIS 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.
I may be moving around a lot. My box number is the most accurate address to reach me. Why does CIS want to know every time I move?
Members of Congress and CIS and other government agencies have indicated to schools that they want to know where aliens live, including students, so that they can find them if necessary.
I am just a student. I study. I am not doing anything wrong. Why would CIS or any other law enforcement agent want to find me?
There could be many reasons. The most common, of course, have to do with events, such as terrorist acts, that cause the government to launch investigations.