Asylum seekers may choose to change their name and go by a name that feels more natural to them or is easier to pronounce for people in their country of destination. However, what if you want to change your name and make it legal? In this post, we answer the question can asylum seekers change their name.

Asylum seekers cannot change their names during the asylum application process or after they have been granted asylum. The main reason is that any changes to the application on file will interfere and delay the process. USCIS has to ensure all the documentation matches with what they have submitted in their application and changing your name is not ideal under these circumstances. 

However, in some states, like California, you may be able to file a petition for a name change with the court, but before you decide on doing that keep in mind these things. Make sure you have a good reason why you are deciding to change your name and understand why you are doing it. There is no guarantee that your petition will be approved. It's important that you speak with an immigration attorney before you make this decision because they will be able to give you the best possible advice. In addition, if somehow the state you reside in allows for a name change, it’s most likely that your future applications may be delayed. 

Can I Change My Name When I Get a Green Card? 

Whether you get married, divorced, or want to change your name for personal reasons, once you’ve obtained lawful permanent residency, and a green card, you may be able to change your legal name. 

Green card laws are usually regulated by states so you will need to give a valid reason and file other documents to change your name. Depending on the reason for the name change you will need to show other forms of documentation. For example, if you got married or divorced, you will need to show proof along with your application. If your name is successfully changed and you are approved, you will need to replace your green card with an updated one. 

You will need to complete Form I-90, include the proper paperwork, and pay a listed fee. 

It's recommended that you wait to change your name until you become a U.S. citizen. There is a name change as a free option that is part of the citizenship process if you wish.  At this point you will no longer need a green card or have to replace or pay a fee nor file paperwork. 

Can I Change My Name when I Become a U.S Citizen? 

Yes, changing your name when you become a U.S citizen or during the naturalization process is the best way possible. However, ensure that you seek legal counsel before you decide to make that change. Every state generally takes care of this matter, ask your immigration attorney how you can complete this process and if it’s beneficial to you.  

There are a few ways in which you can request your name changed. The first way is during the naturalization process during the ceremony by filling Form N-565. When you pass your citizenship interview and you are approved for a naturalization certificate, you can change your name. This takes place during the swearing-in ceremony. 

Another way you can change your name is during the naturalization interview. In your interview you will be provided Form N-400, Application for Naturalization where you can officially change your name. When you attend the swearing-in ceremony, you will be given a certificate proving that your name has legally changed.  

USCIS may also do a background check on the name in case any suspicion is raised. For more information on noncitizen name change click here.

What Other Documents would I need to Update when I Get a Name Change? 

Legally changing your name also means that you will need to consider changing your name on other important documents. Once your name has been changed, ensure you also update your new legal name on documents listed below: 

  • License 
  • Social security number
  • Address 
  • work/ employment 
  • Children's contact information 
  • Marriage certificate 
  • Bank accounts, etc. 

Also, keep in mind that you may run into some issues with creditors and banks since your former name had all your prior information. 


Can Asylum Seekers Change their Name?

No, you most likely cannot change your name. There are some states that you may file a petition with a valid reason, but the court will make the ultimate decision.

If you have a pending asylum claim, you cannot change your name at all. 

Can Permanent Residents Change Names?

Yes, permanent residents (green card holders) can change their names once the court in their state issues an approval. Then you will need to request a new green card by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card where you will be issued a new green card with an updated legal name. 

How Do I Change My Name as a Citizen?

In order to change your name you will need to file Form N-565 Replacement of Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization—with USCIS.  You will receive a new certificate after a legal name change. Make sure that you request a new certificate that reflects the name change.