What’s In A Name CHANGE?

Noncitizen name changes can complicate or benefit. 

I recently got the following question from a family law attorney:

QUESTION: 

Can a Minnesota court order the name change of a non-citizen? Client has a H4 visa, and my understanding is that means they are a lawful temporary resident.  So my thinking is they satisfy the residency requirement of Minn. Stat. 259, having lived here in Minnesota for more than 6 months.  I'm wondering if there is any prohibition to such a name change, or compelling reason not to change their name?

ANSWER: 

There is no prohibition on the name change for noncitizens, for the statutory reason cited. 

Perhaps there are a couple additional issues worth noting: First, the recordkeeping must be meticulous because the individual will be asked about the name change in future immigration applications. There should be proof that it was done in the proper manner. I recommend multiple certified copies so that the individual can provide one in such applications. 

Second, it may be worth asking the reason for the name change, because there may be immigration implications for those reason(s).  Perhaps they got married and changed their mind later about the name change, so no problem.  

But maybe there are other reasons that would impact their future immigration status. All immigration attorneys have come across differences in names, use of names, name misspellings, and other name problems that have complicated subsequent immigration matters, at least in some way.  If there are nefarious reasons for the name change, or they are simply doing it out of personal preference, the change in documentation needed in the future can be very inconvenient to deal with at best. 

Is the noncitizens prepared to go without their passport for some time while their embassy issues a new one? Are there problems with a different name on their work authorization card?

That may all be their choice, but at least an immigration attorney can explain the impacts so their choice is better informed.


It’s really a great question I’m so glad the attorney asked!

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