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You CAN Keep Your Last Name

Posted by attorney Elizabeth Blandon

When foreign women apply for a green card based on marriage, they do not need to adopt their married name. The Citizenship and Immigration Service permits them to use their:

  • married name;
  • a combination of both (for instance, hyphenating maiden name and husband’s last name)

In Florida, a woman can legally begin using her husband’s name after the marriage. No formal name change is required.

If the woman wishes to adopt a name other than the one on her birth certificate, she must follow proper procedure, which can include petitioning state courts and receiving a name change order. The same is also true for men. Because the laws of each state vary, foreign nationals should consult with an attorney. A common example would be women whose maiden names are very long and they wish to shorten them (Maria Teresa De Los Angeles Sanchez Rodriguez wishes to become Teresa Sanchez.)

Immigration will demand ORIGINAL documents to verify the proper name. Certified copies are as valid as originals. These include the birth certificate, the marriage certificate and the name change order.

Immigration documents can also be changed based on marriage, divorce or court order after foreigners become residents or citizens. In those cases, the applicants must file the proof of name change documents together with applications either for a new green card or a new Certificate of Citizenship. Of course, a simpler route for citizens would be to apply for a new passport with the Department of State.

While Immigration gives a foreigner options when choosing which name will appear on her green card, there is proper procedure that must be followed. For expertise on this and other issues, it is always suggested that a foreigner solicit the help of an experienced attorney before submitting applications.

This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced competent immigration attorney is the best way to address individual concerns

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