Name change through naturalization
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - September 1, 2019 - 12:00am

This week my client called me to ask if he can change his surname because he is tired of people mispronouncing it. He is applying for naturalization and in one of the questions in the form, it asks the applicant whether he wants to change his name. Interestingly, it does not ask the reason for the name change. It only asks what name you want to change to and together with the approval of the naturalization application, the name change request is also simultaneously granted.

I usually tell my clients that if they want to change their name, they should take advantage of this benefit. It is more expensive and time consuming to effect a name change through the courts. Thus, doing this through USCIS is more desirable.

There are just some things you have to remember: When you legally change your name, you also have to notify the various government agencies that issue your IDs such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, etc. You also have to change your passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate and other civil documents. You also have to think of your children and spouse if you want to have a different surname than theirs.

Sometimes clients become hesitant in pursuing a name change just because of the tremendous time and effort in effecting it. So weigh in your personal circumstances if this is what you really want to do.

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This column is not a substitute for professional legal advice obtained from a US licensed immigration attorney. The information contained herein does not constitute a warranty or guarantee or legal advice regarding a reader’s specific immigration case. No attorney-client relationship is and shall be established with any reader.

For any questions, comments and observations, please contact Atty. Marco Tomakin at

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