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To Change or Not to Change Wife's family name

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Filed: Timeline

I am American and my family comes from german and hungarian descent. My wife is Japanese and arrived in the US via K-1 VISA and has been here for a few months. We got married and we are still trying to decide on whether to change her name. We plan on some point moving to Japan in the future.

She has done research and she claims there are pros and cons to keeping the name as well as pros and cons for changing it.

She has changed it in America, but she's thinking of not changing it in Japan.

Does anyone on this site had specific experience with marrying a Japanese person and trying to change their name from the states. Apparently its a major headache. Not so if we were in Japan.

Keeping the Name:


-keeping family identity, heritage.

-for when we are in Japan, easier to rent houses, get bank accounts, legal matters, finding jobs.


-Still listed under family's koseki

-Not having the same last name

-After the 6 month window you need to prove to a judge or the records office there are issues requiring you to change it

-Any children born would be under her family's koseki.



-takes like 2 months to change from the states

-will lose/won't have access to her bank accounts

-and a bunch of other stuff

If anyone could comment that would greatly be appreciated.


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Ecuador

*** Thread moved from Moving Here forum to Asia: East & Pacific regional subforum, for country-specific advice. ***

06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Russia

first off, it might benefit you to know how extremely xenophobic asians are, particularly korean and japanese people. there may be social stigma from the locals in japan when encountering your wife's foreign last name.

with that said, if you had it changed here in the states, it would be a good idea to change it japan solely for the sake of uniformity. however, that may be a pain in the ####, and may be easier if your wife just kept her maiden name because i assume she still retained her japanese citizenship and passport.

why is remaining in her family's registry a con? it's not as if there's an american koseki for her to register into. but, it may be possible, maybe even humorous if the husband was adopted into her family (as son in law) and registered under their koseki. husband taking the wife's surname isn't "weird" in japan.

not having the same last name doesn't seem like a con to me, but i'm korean. in korean customs, the husband and wife keep their original surnames throughout life. in japan, it is required by law for husband and wife to share surnames...whose they share is the couple's decision.

as for the judge, and children going in her koseki... i see no problems either. only because, when in rome, do as the romans do. your children being registered in japan will have zero bearing if your family were to ever return and settle in the U.S.

if she were to change her name, i do not see how she would lose access to her bank accounts. she would just need to show a legal document showing that her name was changed. and the bank accounts are associated with something like social security numbers which are unique to an individual, not particularly their name.

i would recommend her changing her last name to the husband's just to start new with each other's lives together. this would simplify everything for both of you. renting homes, opening bank accounts, and finding jobs won't be impossible. i assume she's fluent in japanese so that would lend a great deal in accomplishing all of the above. this isn't imperial japan where foreigners are ostracized and seen as vermin. they are a highly globalized nation with many, MANY foreigners going in and out, and even living long-term in the country.

FYI, most of them DO understand english, but will absolutely refuse to speak it to you out of shame that they are not proficient. cultural differences -__-

Edited by P A U L

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