Name Change for Non Citizens
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If you're a legal permanent resident in America you may apply to change your name via the courts. The process and fees are set at a state level and vary greatly, from under $100 to over $500. Some states can do name changes on the spot where other states drag the process out for over three months. Check with your county court to learn the exact process, fees and turnaround for where you reside.
This is a different process from non-citizens changing names after marriage. With legal name change you may change any part of your name, all of your names, the spelling or order of your name.
Name Change before citizenship
Legal Permanent Residents (LPR's) hold an Alien Card, also referred to as a green card. This card lists the name as registered with immigration. This is one of the most important documents you hold. If you change your name by court order, you should apply to get your green card changed into your new name as soon as possible. You may instead choose to delay changing names until you become a citizen as names change is a free option as part of the citizenship process.
Most government agencies will only change their records to reflect what is listed with the Social Security Administration. And the SSA will only change your name if you can present an updated green card. This means there is no point trying to update your driver's license unless you have SSA and your green card updated first. A green card is essential when opening bank accounts, applying for a job and more. If you want your name to be changed on all your records you must have your green card updated.
How to change the name on your Green Card
In total there is a $450 fee to replace your green card (this is a separate charge and process from a court ordered name change). If you have had your name changed by court order, you may still travel on a foreign passport issued under a different name, or a LPR card (green card) in the former name, but you should carry your court ordered name change document with you. Unless you have a green card in your new name, you may encounter challenges when opening or changing your accounts to that name. Most companies will insist on seeing updated government photo ID along with your court ordered name change document before they can make any changes. Although not illegal, a delay in changing your green card may result in having different names in different places, which makes proving your identity difficult.
What about my name in my country of citizenship?
Passports are issued by over 160 countries worldwide, so we are unable to provide information about name change for foreign countries. We recommend contacting your embassy or high commission before applying to legally change names in the USA to ask further advice.
The laws for name change while living abroad varies between countries. Generally speaking, your country of citizenship may;
- accept your US court order as evidence of a new name and allow you to change your passport while living in the USA.
- insist you also go through the same name change process as other citizens from your country. This may be possible while living in the USA, or you may need to wait until you return to that country.
Once your passport is updated you are usually able to change names with any organizations from that country. Keep in mind there are millions of companies abroad and all have their own unique procedure for name change, so the only way to know for sure is to contact each one.
The information above is of a general nature and your situation may be different. With the infinite combinations of countries and companies you may need to update, we can't tell you for sure what process you will need to undertake. The only way to know for sure is to do some research in advance of changing names and arrive at your own decision.
Easy Name Change operates in Australia, Canada and the UK. If you have a number of records to update in one of the countries and Easy Name Change kit can provide you with the paperwork and procedures necessary. Just click the country name link above to visit our regional sites for comprehensive name change paperwork.
Name Change as part of citizenship
If you expect to become a naturalized citizen in the foreseeable future you may be best to delay your name change. There is no additional charge to have your name change processed as part of the naturalization process. You may save almost $1,000 in fees from the court and in replacing your green card.
When completing form N-400, Application for Naturalization, simply tick the box where you are prompted if you legally want to change names. Complete the name in full exactly as you would like to be known in the future. When your citizenship certificate is issued, it will reflect the name change.
Once you have the citizenship certificate, get your SSA records updated first, then your state driver's license if you have one. US Passports can take a while longer, so if you only have one original citizenship certificate, ensure you have changed your name in all other important places before applying for a US passport as your certificate may not be available for a month or two.
Full details on changing your name with SSA and on your US passport is included in our Easy Name Change kit, so you don't need to hunt around for the latest forms. If you have other companies to update, select to receive their name change forms, or ready to send letters and faxes as part of our personalized kit. If any of your companies have a different name change procedure we’ll let you know exactly what to do so you don’t spend hours waiting on hold.
Keen to change names now?
If you want to legally change names by court order, get started by reading through our section on legal name change. Once you've familiarized yourself with the process in your county, including the costs and how long you can expect the process will take, you can lodge a legal name change petition. When you receive a court order with your name change, Easy Name Change is here to help you get all your identification, accounts, memberships, and records updated.