United States allows people to lawfully change their names and adopt new names as people tend to change their names for various reasons such as marriage, divorce or adoption. Many choose to change their names while applying for US citizenship as they need not pay separate fees for US citizenship and to legally change their names and the prospective US citizens who have filed their US citizenship applications can change their names as a part of the US citizenship process. But this will be possible only if you take the Oath of Allegiance in a court and if the oath is administered by a judge and in this case, you need not file a separate application to legally change your name as you can enter your new name in the space that is provided in Form N-400. However, US citizens cannot use this procedure to change their names and this is only available to Green Card holders who are applying for US citizenship.
However, people can also adopt new names by filing petitions for name change and by getting court orders. But if you are currently applying for US citizenship and if you wish to change your name at that time, you can apply for naturalization and for legal name change together on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You can just check the box beside the question, “Would you like to legally change your name?”, in the first part of the naturalization application, if you seek to change your name while applying for US citizenship. You should check the box and write your new name below that question in the space that is provided and you must write your family name and your given and middle names.
You can apply for name change even after filing Form N-400 and in this case, you will have to apply for name change before taking the naturalization oath and you just need to complete and file “Petition for a Change in Name by an Applicant for Citizenship”. If you file this petition, to legally change your name, you will be issued a naturalization certificate that bears your new name. You can file this petition if you have already filed your naturalization application. But remember that you can change your name at the time of applying for US citizenship, only if the oath ceremony takes place in a court and if a judge administers the oath as the US district courts are authorized to change the names of the applicants who are applying for US citizenship, while they take the oath. However, you cannot change your name, if you are sworn in by some other official.
If your petition to change your name is approved, your naturalization certificate will bear your new name. However, you will have to remember few things while changing your name as you will have to inform your bank, your credit card company, your home country and other organizations that have your previous name, about your name change and you will also have to change your name in all your documents.