When preparing immigration forms for submission to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you will often be required to provide your “full name.” In all cases this should be your current legal name. If you are married, your current legal name generally includes your married name. In most cases, your marriage certificate is a legal name change document.
After marriage, you can begin using your new name immediately. In an opposite-sex marriage, the woman may keep her maiden name, beginning using her husband’s family name, or hyphenate her name with her husband’s name. All of these options are available as long as the name change isn’t done criminally or fraudulently. The same rules apply to name changes in same-sex marriages.
When filing a USCIS application, such as a green card renewal or citizenship application, you will need evidence of the legal name change. Your evidence is a copy of your marriage certificate. Generally, USCIS requires a copy of the certificate if you use the name on the application.
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Most USCIS forms also ask if you have used other names. You will need to enter your maiden name and any other versions of your name that you’ve used in the past.
You may have other identification under your previous name. That’s okay. It doesn’t prevent you from using the new name going forward. The marriage certificate provides you the necessary evidence to begin using the new name on the USCIS application.
If you would like to change your name on the other IDs, contact the individual agencies or companies that are responsible for issuing new copies. Again, it’s likely they will need a copy of your marriage certificate as proof of the legal name change.
Other Legal Name Changes
If you opt to change your name to something different than your spouse’s name, this requires different documentation. You will need to court to grant your legal name change and issue a document as evidence.
Generally, this is a simple matter. Each state’s requirements are different, but usually require you to fill out some forms. State or county government websites typically have forms online. Once granted, use the documentation provided by the court as evidence of your legal name change.
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