The 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.
Citizenship Name Change While Applying for Citizenship
People applying for U.S. citizenship can change their names as a part of the U.S. naturalization process. When applying for U.S. citizenship if you wish to change your name, you can apply for naturalization and for legal name change together on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
Based on the instructions for Form N-400 you can just check the box beside the question, “Would you like to legally change your name?”, in the second part of the naturalization application.
Many choose to change their names while applying for U.S. citizenship as they need not pay separate fees for U.S. citizenship and to legally change their names.
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. In this scenario, 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, U.S. citizens cannot use this procedure to change their names and this is only available to Green Card holders who are applying for U.S. citizenship.
Name Change After Filing Citizenship Application But Before Oath Ceremony
You can apply for a name change even after filing Form N-400 and in this case, you will have to apply for a 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 U.S. citizenship, only if the oath ceremony takes place in a court and if a judge administers the oath as the U.S. district courts are authorized to change the names of the applicants who are applying for U.S. 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.
Name Change After Becoming a U.S. Citizen
If you become a U.S. citizen and you need to change your name you can do so by approaching the court. The procedure might vary based on the state you are in but in most cases legally changing your name through the court system is recommended.
Once you have legally changed your name you can File Form N-565 with the USCIS which is the application to replace your Naturalization or Citizenship certificate with the new name and get an updated copy of your certificate.
Name changes can be done if you are married or divorced or you changed your name through a court order. You should provide the required documents when filing the citizenship certificate replacement application.
You will have to remember a 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 other documents.
It is recommended to consult a lawyer before you apply for a name change if you have already filed your citizenship application.