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H1B to Green Card by marriage: should I change my last name?

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Hi, I am genuinely sorry if this has been asked here before (I can't spot a similar thread) - please redirect me if so.

I am a British researcher, living in NYC for 5 years; just started my H1B (after 5yr of J1). Getting married in Sept to US citizen. WAS going to change my name to a hyphenated surname (his name-my name) BUT just had a chat with the international affairs office at the university I work at and she strongly advised me to NOT change my name, as it will cause problems particularly as we are going to travel to UK for holidays in December.

My plan was to change my Social Security, bank, payroll, state ID, immediately after getting marriage certificate back in late Sept, then get our green card application submitted in October/ASAP. I thought I'd be OK to travel over Christmas with my maiden named passport, H1B visa, and a copy of the marriage certificate. BUT she said I can't have mismatching Social Security Number and passport and would therefore need to update the UK passport. Which obviously then wouldn't match the visa but she said carrying the marriage certificate should smooth this over. However, changing my passport will take time and we want to apply ASAP. Also, my visa is physically stuck in my passport - would I need to get a new visa?

The actual question: Does anyone have experience of changing their last name by marriage on an H1B before applying for GC, then travelling? Did you change your passport?

I don't think this would be an issue if we weren't travelling in Dec, but I *really* don't want to wait until Jan to apply for the GC (desperate for a job change, plus am main breadwinner and need more stability).

She suggested not changing it and then if I want to, legally changing it AFTER getting the GC and then adjusting the GC. But in NY that involves remarrying the same spouse (will it matter that this a "different" marriage to that on which we applied for the GC?) and paying $465 for an adjusted GC.

She also suggested holding back until Nov to apply as otherwise we may get approved before our Dec travel and this would cause issues. I thought H1B = dual intent = I can travel while other petitions underway?

Any help/advice/personal stories anyone may have would be of great interest

Thanks so much for reading this far!

All the best, Sally

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Whoever you talked to was a real dummy. Sorry.

This person thinks you show your SSN when you travel?

If there will be a problem with the employer, just don't change the name right away, then apply for the GC in married name, and once you get that you will get a GC in the married name, then you can change all your IDs and your payroll and have everything match and you won't be dependent on your visa anymore.

You can continue to travel on maiden name stuff while GC is pending. H1B is dual intent and you can travel while AOS is pending.


AOS for my husband
8/17/10: INTERVIEW DAY (day 123) APPROVED!!

ROC:
5/23/12: Sent out package
2/06/13: APPROVED!

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Thanks Harpa!

My concern is that I'll need to change SSN name as that will surely need to match when I apply for GC; but if SSN name changed then I'll definitely need to tell work/payroll/bank so I can get paid. (I think!)

But you're right - I'm not sure there is a need for SSN and foreign passport name to match when travel.

Thanks for the H1B travel reassurance! :)

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Thanks Harpa!

My concern is that I'll need to change SSN name as that will surely need to match when I apply for GC; but if SSN name changed then I'll definitely need to tell work/payroll/bank so I can get paid. (I think!)

But you're right - I'm not sure there is a need for SSN and foreign passport name to match when travel.

Thanks for the H1B travel reassurance! :)

You don't have to update your SSN before applying for the GC. Your marriage certificate will serve as a legal basis for you filling out the application in your married name. It states this in the form instructions. You can update with SSA after you get your GC.


04-14-14: Married

05-29-14: (Day 00) - AOS Package (I-130/I-485/I-131/I-765) overnighted to Chicago

05-30-14: (Day 01) - Package delivered and signed for by J.C.

06-06-14: (Day 08) - Email/text notifications received at 1:15am

06-11-14: (Day 14) - NOAs received in the mail

06-13-14: (Day 16) - Biometrics appointment in the mail for (06/24/14)

06-18-14: (Day 21) - Early walk-in biometrics at Hialeah (no questions asked)

07-07-14: (Day 40) - Text/email notification case has moved to 'Testing & Interview'

08-13-14: (Day 77) - EAD card in production

08-18-14: (Day 82) - Text/email notification that EAD card was mailed out

08-19-14: (Day 83) - Text/email notification that interview letter was mailed. Interview date 9-23-14

08-20-14: (Day 84) - Received EAD/AP combo card in the mail

08-21-14: (Day 85) - Received hard copy NOA for interview date

09-23-14: (Day 118)-AOS Interview - APPROVED - Text/email notification card in production and text/notification I-130 approved

09-26-14: (Day 121)-NOA - Welcome to the United States letter received

09-29-14: (Day 124)-Text/email notification of greencard mailing with tracking (priority 2 day)

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Thanks FlyingFish - you lot are so helpful!

I didn't even think about just holding off on SSN, etc, until after we'd applied. I think I was in the frame of mind that somehow copies of SSN, state ID, etc, with my new married name on would be useful evidence of a genuine marriage but as you point out, I have a marriage certificate that already covers that!

Thanks so much. :)

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Thanks FlyingFish - you lot are so helpful!

I didn't even think about just holding off on SSN, etc, until after we'd applied. I think I was in the frame of mind that somehow copies of SSN, state ID, etc, with my new married name on would be useful evidence of a genuine marriage but as you point out, I have a marriage certificate that already covers that!

Thanks so much. :)

Many travel (get ticketed) in their passport name because it is easier dealing with the airlines. Just because you start changing your name one place, doesn't mean everything has to change the exact same day. It evolves. You could apply for the greencard in a new name, but continue to use the maiden name on an airline ticket. And I asked the line checking guy at Heathrow who was shouting out "your ID Must match your ticket"...what if you got married and have a brand new name? He said then you need the marriage certificate if ticket and passport don't match. He said they see that all day long. So two options, but ticket in passport name is easier.

And another good reason to wait on Social Security. They can get all weird about changing names if it is not exactly as Immigration has you listed. Some people are successful with a married name change, but others get the run around. Once your immigrant status is changed to LPR in a new name, it will possibly go smoother.

Edited by Nich-Nick

England.gifENGLAND ---

K-1 Timeline 4 months, 19 days 03-10-08 VSC to 7-29-08 Interview London

10-05-08 Married

AOS Timeline 5 months, 14 days 10-9-08 to 3-23-09 No interview

Removing Conditions Timeline 5 months, 20 days12-27-10 to 06-10-11 No interview

Citizenship Timeline 3 months, 26 days 12-31-11 Dallas to 4-26-12 Interview Houston

05-16-12 Oath ceremony

The journey from Fiancé to US citizenship:

4 years, 2 months, 6 days

243 pages of forms/documents submitted

No RFEs

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Thanks FlyingFish - you lot are so helpful!

I didn't even think about just holding off on SSN, etc, until after we'd applied. I think I was in the frame of mind that somehow copies of SSN, state ID, etc, with my new married name on would be useful evidence of a genuine marriage but as you point out, I have a marriage certificate that already covers that!

Thanks so much. :)

No problem! I haven't changed my name with SSA yet and my GC interview is on 9/23. Just note that all paperwork will be in your married name so when you go for biometrics make sure to take your marriage certificate with you as your ID will be in your maiden name. They asked me to see mine to verify the name and ID.


04-14-14: Married

05-29-14: (Day 00) - AOS Package (I-130/I-485/I-131/I-765) overnighted to Chicago

05-30-14: (Day 01) - Package delivered and signed for by J.C.

06-06-14: (Day 08) - Email/text notifications received at 1:15am

06-11-14: (Day 14) - NOAs received in the mail

06-13-14: (Day 16) - Biometrics appointment in the mail for (06/24/14)

06-18-14: (Day 21) - Early walk-in biometrics at Hialeah (no questions asked)

07-07-14: (Day 40) - Text/email notification case has moved to 'Testing & Interview'

08-13-14: (Day 77) - EAD card in production

08-18-14: (Day 82) - Text/email notification that EAD card was mailed out

08-19-14: (Day 83) - Text/email notification that interview letter was mailed. Interview date 9-23-14

08-20-14: (Day 84) - Received EAD/AP combo card in the mail

08-21-14: (Day 85) - Received hard copy NOA for interview date

09-23-14: (Day 118)-AOS Interview - APPROVED - Text/email notification card in production and text/notification I-130 approved

09-26-14: (Day 121)-NOA - Welcome to the United States letter received

09-29-14: (Day 124)-Text/email notification of greencard mailing with tracking (priority 2 day)

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