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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawCR-1 Visas: When Should I Change My Name?

CR-1 Visas: When Should I Change My Name?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the CR-1; that is Conditional Resident Visa.  This is the type of Visa this issued to the spouse of an American citizen and the couple has been married for less than two years, so the spouse would enter the United States in what is called Conditional Resident Status.

The question is often posed to me by folks that are seeking these kinds of visas and often times it is usually newlyweds. "We have just gotten married. When should we change her name?"  My usual advice with respect to this is thus. It is probably a good idea to change your name before getting started with the Immigration process. If you really feel it is that important for the name to be changed, go ahead and do it before getting started with anything having to do with immigration, because changing a name oftentimes requires changing documentation such as a passport. In the Kingdom of Thailand it would require changing of things like the ID card, the name on a Thai's ID card may require documentation changes as well as translation changes and this can be problematic if you are sort of midstream in the CR-1 process because it is already a difficult enough process. Adding a whole new set of documentation pertaining to a name change, especially midway through the process, can add a cumbersome aspect and complexity to a process that is already cumbersome and complex enough. 

So the thing to take away from this video is, "yes you can do it, but if you are going to change your name, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and do it before the process ever gets started in order to forestall a lot of complications midway through the process as the process progresses. Another thing to keep in mind once you are in the United States, complexity is added by trying to change your name post Green Card; that is post entrance with an I-551 stamp. Now again you can do it once the Green Card is issued but if you go ahead and wait till you naturalize to US citizenship, you can do it all at once during the naturalization process. I have often found that this is an easier thing for folks as a practical matter to undertake, rather than doing the name change, as again name change documentation, translations associated therewith and documentation associated therewith can be cumbersome, it can add complexity and as a practical matter it is just a better idea to do it either before or at the very end of the overall process.