If you’ve gotten married and are preparing immigration forms for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you may be wondering which name to put on USCIS forms. In every situation where you are required to provide your full name, you should use your legal name.
If you have gotten married and changed your name, your current legal name will be on your marriage certificate, which serves as a legal name change document.
Determining What Name to Use on USCIS Forms
Depending on your culture and preferences, some people choose to change their last name to their partner’s family name after marriage. In the US, it is common practice in opposite-sex relationships for the woman to assume her husband’s family name after getting married. In some same-sex marriages, one member of the couple may choose to assume the other’s family name as well.
In other cases, the newly married person elects to keep their original last name, known as a “maiden name” for women, or hyphenate their last name with their partner’s last name. For instance, if two people with the last names of Jones and Smith get married, one of them may decide to legally change their last name to “Jones-Smith.”
In the US, there’s no legal requirement to change your name when you get married; it is completely up to the individual or couple. What matters for USCIS forms is that you are using the legal name that is on your marriage certificate.
Proof of Legal Name for USCIS
If you are filing a citizenship application, Green Card renewal, or other document that requires your full name on USCIS forms and you have changed your name due to marriage, you will have to provide proof of your legal name change. Your marriage certificate is that proof.
In most cases, you will have to provide a copy of your marriage certificate to USCIS as evidence of the legal name change.
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Do I Have to Provide USCIS with Other Names I’ve Used?
Some USCIS forms will ask if you have ever used another name, or have a field for other names. In this field, you would put your maiden name, or previous surname you used before marriage. If you have ever gone by another legal name, you would list that name here.
Do I Have to Change My Name on Other Documents After Marriage?
A copy of your marriage certificate is all you’ll need as evidence of the legal name change for filing applications with USCIS.
However, you will likely want to change your name on other forms of identification as well. To do this, you must contact whatever agency issued the ID to change your name with them. You will likely need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate as proof to each agency, so make multiple copies.
What if I’m Changing My Name for a Different Reason?
Changing your name to something other than your spouse’s name is a more complicated process, and requires different documentation.
This will require you to schedule a court hearing to grant your legal name change, after which the court will provide a document that can serve as legal evidence of the name change.
However, being as the US is a nation of states, there is no unified process for doing this. Each state will be different. Some will allow you to fill out legal name change forms online, while others will make you do it in person.
Regardless of the reason or process, make sure you always provide your legal name on any USCIS application, along with a copy of your marriage certificate or other supporting document for proof.
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