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

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

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing IR-1 Visas; that is Immediate Relative Visas. In most of the cases we see these, these are visas where this is the spouse of an American citizen although in theory we could be seeing cases of spouses of lawful permanent residents. But generally speaking we are talking about spouses of American citizens usually when we see cases process out of here in Thailand.

Now an IR-1 Visa is somewhat different than a CR-1 Visa as the holder of an Immediate Relative Visa enters the United States in Unconditional Lawful Permanent Resident status as opposed to Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident status which is the status in which someone holding a CR-1 Visa would enter the United States.

The question I get a lot with respect to Marriage visas and Fiancée visas throughout the process is “When should we change our name?”, and that is usually the case where you have got a Thai female who is married to an American male. They are wanting to travel to the United States and they have already been married. Usually they have been married for quite some time where I am dealing with IR-1 Visas. The situation with respect to visas associated with the name change, the questions I see I should say, are when should we do it and my advice is usually either before we ever start this process or at the very, very foreseeable end. What I mean to say by that is before you ever get an Immigration petition on file, if you want to change your name do it before then, because changing it midway through the process is problematic to say the least. It adds layers of complexity with respect to forms associated with identification, most notably things like passports likely have to be replaced, Thai ID cards, things of that nature have to be replaced because you have to change the name. Then on top of that, you have to deal with the translations associated therewith which has to be changed and it is just problematic especially midway through the process. If you wait till the very end, and by the end I mean presumably if the Thai spouse comes to the United States and wishes to apply for naturalization to United States Citizenship, at the time that they naturalize, they can pick their own name. When they naturalize to American citizenship, it is a plenary aspect of the naturalization process and for this reason it is probably a good idea to wait for that because it is relatively straightforward and after naturalization, prior Immigration documentation is largely irrelevant because you are now in naturalized US citizenship. 

If you really want to do it, I think it is a good idea to do it before the process ever starts or at the very, very end because doing it in the middle results in a lot more complexity to a situation that is already complex and not to deal with.