Name Change

Name Changes: Possible Or Not?!

There may be different reasons such as divorce, marriage, and immigration that would make someone want to change their name. In some cases, a full name change is not required because there’s only a small misspelling that has to be corrected. If you are an immigrant, you can change your name during the naturalization process. This has been discussed in detail in the Name Change in Immigration part.

And speaking of Immigration, you might like to read the article below:

4 Easiest Countries To Immigrate

Change name - Name Change in Family Law

However, if you are not an immigrant or couldn’t successfully change your name during naturalization, you would need to apply for a name change in court. In this case, the first step would be to fill out a name change form. You can find name change forms online or get them from a court. These forms typically require you to write why you want to change your name, your personal information. After submitting the petition to a court, you will need to pay a fee that can vary from state to state (it’s usually within a range of $50-$200).

In some states, you would need to pay for a formal advertisement in a local newspaper or magazine. After the court examines your request, you will need to attend the court. Consequently, you will need to take part in a swearing-in ceremony, in which you have to explain why you want to change your name. The judge then officially grants you the name change.

We briefly mentioned the reasons for a name change in the beginning of the article. However, now we are going to discuss how each case requires its own documentation. 

If you want to change your name after marriage, you need to provide the court with your marriage certificate. Whereas for a name change after a divorce, you would need a divorce decree or certificate as proof.

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Name Change in Immigration

Immigration is another reason for a name change. In such cases, the name change can be due to a mistake made in the application process or any other personal reasons.

Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card — I-90 form

This form is known as the application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. If your name has been misspelled on your green card, you can use this form to change or correct your name on your green card before naturalization. Take note that in this procedure you would have to pay a fee which may vary depending on the correction.

If you are eligible for citizenship, however, the procedures mentioned below would be more suitable.

Name Change during Naturalization — N-400 form

If you haven’t received your citizenship yet, you can include a request for a name change in your N-400 form. This is the form you fill out when you apply for naturalization.

If you pass your citizenship interview, the USCIS office will give you a form called Petition for Name Change. In this way, you would be able to legally change your name in your oath ceremony.

Bear in mind that this is only possible if the naturalization swearing-in ceremony is held in a courtroom and if the USCIS has accepted your name change request which you made in your interview. It should be pointed out that only a judge can legally grant you a name change in a swearing-in ceremony.

Accordingly, your name will be changed after the oath ceremony ends and the naturalization certificate will have your new name. Additionally, you will be provided with separate legal documentation of your name change which can be used as proof.

Name Change after Naturalization – N-565 form

In the event that the USCIS rejects your name change request at the oath ceremony, or if you are already a citizen, you would have to fill in the N-565 form. This is only possible after you have obtained citizenship in the United States. This procedure allows you to get a reissued version of your citizenship document where your new name comes with your new certificate of citizenship.

To elaborate, the N-565 form won’t just correct or change your name on a document; it provides you with new documentation containing your new name.

Correction during a Request for Certificate of Citizenship — N-600 form 

You can request a Certificate of Citizenship if you were born to a U.S. citizen parent or became a citizen before the age of 18. If you merely want to correct errors and incorrect spellings on your legal ID documents, you can make a correction request along with your request for a certificate of citizenship. So if you want to fully change your name, this method is not a good option.

In this procedure, you should fill out the N-600 form using your current name without any changes. Then, attach a cover letter in which you have stated the error and your request for a correction. You should also include your guardian or parent’s affidavit for the error and the correct form of the name.

Moreover, make sure to include evidence on the claim that your name has a typographical error on the respective document. The proof that you provide in this step determines whether your name will be corrected. Even if it is corrected, the extent of it depends on the evidence that you have submitted. A family member’s (preferably a parent’s) name correction can be used as evidence in this case.

The USCIS does not easily accept name corrections, so be persistent and provide them with a list of alternative names.

Use Your New Name

Finally, you should inform the institutions where your name has been registered to use your new name. Also, you should only use your new name in forms and places you go to. Furthermore, it would be best to get your other documents in your new name and to tell everyone to only address you by your new name.

Frequent Questions

What Are the Restrictions on the Names That You Can Choose?

There are particular restrictions which have to be considered. Here’s a list of such restrictions:

·        Changing your name in order to commit illegal actions, such as fraud, debt or tax evasion

·        Using confusing a name with numbers, unclear symbols or letters (for example, Jack 3@1)

·        A name that is offensive, racist, violent, or contains an insult (for example, murderer)

·        The name of a famous person (for example, Johnny Depp, Taylor Swift, and etc.)

Make sure to check the State’s rules and requirements before you apply for a name change.

Which Documents Do I Need to Change My Name on after a Name Change?

In order to avoid any identity mistakes, you should change your name on your Social Security card, driver’s license, and credit cards. Each piece of document has its own process for a name change. You need your naturalization certificate to change your name on other legal documents. 

Does a Name Change Affect My Social Entitlements and Privileges?

As long as you contact and inform each respective agency about your new name, you will not face any problems in this regard.

How Is a Name Change for a Minor Different from an Adult Name Change?

A minor would need the consent of both parents in order for a name change to take place. The judge will listen to the reasoning behind the name change and decide what is best for the minor. There’s a higher chance that the judge will accept the request if there’s a significant reason such as adoption behind it.

How Long Does the Name Change Process Take?

After you file a petition for a name change in court, it’ll take up to 3 months to legally change your name.

Is It an Obligation to Change My Name after Marriage? Do I Have to Take My Husband’s Name after Marriage?

There is no such obligation. You can keep your maiden name even after getting married.

What Should I Do to Take My Husband’s Name?  

After marriage, use your husband’s name when introducing yourself and change your name on all important documents. You would need a copy of your marriage certificate to do this.

How Do I Change My Children’s Last Name from My Husband’s to Mine after a Divorce?

Traditionally, courts ruled that a father had an automatic right to have his child keep his last name if he continued to actively perform his parental role. Although there is still some bias in this direction, it is no longer strictly true.  Now a child’s name may be changed by court petition when it is clearly in the best interest of the child to do so.

In the past, if the father kept the role of the parent to his child, it would be the father’s right to have his child keep his last name. However, now this is not necessarily the case anymore. You can petition a name change for your child. If the name change is in favor of the child, the court will grant the name change.

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