Immigrants in the United States might want to change their legal name for a few reasons. Nolo, a legal encyclopedia, notes that some of the most common reasons individuals change their name is because of a divorce/failed marriage, a personal branding strategy for starting a new business, or altering your name so that it is shorter or if discrimination has become an issue in ones life.[1] Whatever the reason, changing your name as a permanent resident (green card holder) is absolutely possible, but it involves some important steps that will need to happen in advance of filing an I-90.

In this post, we will cover some of the issues and important details of this process, so that permanent residents can go on to live stress and hassle free with their new legal name in the United States. 

First Steps

Some immigrants who do not have a thorough understanding of how to begin this process might think you’ll be able to change your legal name by means of requesting a new green card with your new name. This skips an important step of having a legal name change registered with local/state authorities and you will have your I-90 denied.

Each U.S. state will have a different procedure for changing ones legal name, but generally all interested applicants will need to file a formal petition for a name change with their local court. Ask a friend or family member if they are familiar with where the court building is in the city or town you are living in. You can ask the court if it supplies the form for such a petition. In any case, complete the forms and hand them in to the court clerk.[2]

After a background check and probably another court appearance where you will swear under oath for the legitimate reasons of your name change, the court or local authority will issue you a formal name change document or verification with some type of seal of approval. This is the document that you will need to attach to your I-90.

As a general note, once you have formally changed your name and have received approval from a local authority, it is a good idea to apply for a new drivers license that reflects your new name. Visiting your local DMV office and showing them the verification of your new name should be proof enough to be issued a new license. In addition, you will most likely have to pay a small fee depending on U.S. state for your new license/ID.

Filing the I-90

Once you have legally changed your name, then you will also need to be issued a new PR card. Just like a drivers license, you shouldn’t be going around with a new legal name and presenting your old ID/name. Especially if you are travelling frequently and showing your green card to authorities, you’ll need to initiate this process rather quickly.

On the I-90 Form, Question 4 asks applicants if they have legally changed their name since the issuance of their PR card. Respondents should answer “Yes” here, fill in their new legal name, and complete the rest of the form. Once completed, be sure to attach court verified document stating your legal name change, as well as your new drivers license. If you have gone through a divorce and have had your name reverted back to your maiden name, you’ll need to attach a divorce decree to your application.

If you have more questions regarding an I-90 name change, please visit our Visa2us green card renewal/replacement link, available here: https://www.visa2us.com/apply/green-card-renewal-replacement

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Green CardLegal Name Change