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I<3Bureaucracy

Where to Acquire a Certified Copy of a n-400 Name Change Petition?

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I was naturalized as a US Citizen a few days ago and changed my name as part of the n-400 petition with a District Court judge. :dancing: I have already successfully updated my Social Security, got my passport, and changed all the names on my bank and credit accounts within only a couple days. However, I have not been able to find out how to make a certified copy of my n-400 petition name change, and NOBODY knows how or where to get it done.

I have already been in person to the clerks office of the US District Court who had never seen such a certificate before and referred me to the judge's clerks office. Then one of the clerks for the actual judge who presided over the ceremony said she can't make a certified copy because it is embossed by the Department of Homeland Security. :ranting: It was signed by a court clerk, but nobody knows who because the signature is intentionally vague (clerks do this so they don't get blamed), and the title of the supposed Deputy Clerk left the court last year! :protest:

They referred me to the USCIS which is located at the same court complex, but different from the field office where I took the interview. Even though I didn't have an Infopass appointment they were also extremely nice and saw me. They said I need to go to the field office for any chance to get a copy, but they weren't sure because it was stamped by the DHS. Even though I was updating my surname to my husband's, the USCIS said they could not do a same day oath because I was also Americanizing my given name to my diminutive name. It seems though as if the DHS can though.

The only thing I have said that made any sense is that after 9/11 the INS got broken up and the DHS created confusing parallel and even secret immigration courts under the umbrella of the DHS. The DHS when called has absolutely no idea, confirming what professionals with decades of experiences in the court said about the chaos created by the apparently most useless cabinet level office in the land. :cry:

I am going to try and speak to the field office tomorrow as a walk-in since it is an emergency (I need an Apostille on my name change document to immigrate now to a 3rd country which I am moving to in 10 days with my husband). I don't want to dare mail the original if I have no idea how to make a copy or get another one without filing a court case. Apostilles at the Federal level are only available in Washington DC. You cannot get them abroad or from your state capital like you can with birth certificates and other documents. It took Ronald Reagan to make Apostilles happen for America and I am very glad I am not Canadian and having to pay thousands of dollars to get simple documents legalized!

Note: This post is primarily because I still have not found the answer, and partly to serve as a record for future people in the same predicament as myself. I am confident I will solve this problem. Despite the stress, everyone in the working parts of the government has been very friendly and helpful despite the absurd top down administration they are faced with because of Washington. They are the real MVPs. (L)

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I'm not sure I understand your situation, but once you have a US passport, that should be all the proof that you need to prove your US nationality in order to immigrate to another country.

As for your name change, did you have to submit a separate petition (aside from the N400) to the court in order to have your name changed? Did you receive a name change court order or just the nat. cert. with your new name on it?

If you received a court order, you can just get that apostilled as proof of your new name and not the actual nat. cert. If you didn't receive a court order it may just be easier to obtain a court order reflecting your new name.

This is the reason why I tell people not to change their name through the naturalization process because it results in a myriad of problems later on lol.

USCIS seems to be very incompetent in this area because I remember when my grandma took back her maiden name through the N400, she wasn't even given a name change document and we had a really difficult time getting her documents changed, especially her SS card.

I hope your situation is resolved in time and good luck.


This does not constitute legal advice.

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Unfortunately, most countries are not as liberal and easygoing as the US is with documents. For my current immigration process in Europe, I had to first get an my Soviet birth certificate Apostilled, and of course you can only do this in Moscow. Luckily my mother lives only an hour away and somehow had a duplicate original of her own that she never told me about. Since the Soviet Union no longer exists, by Russian law Apostilles are only issued on birth certificates to people who were born in the Russian Republic. People with Soviet birth certificates issued by the Russian Soviet Republic in places no longer part of Russia (like in the Ukraine) cannot have their birth certificates Apostilled. It's a huge problem now.

Next I need a certified translation in the country I am immigrating to of that document, plus the Apostille of the document which changed my name from my Russian one. If I didn't need a birth ceritifcate, then perhaps my passport would be sufficient. Even the Social Security Administration demanded (incorrectly) that I show them a birth certificate as proof of age. They finally called to get authorization of that my green card which takes heaps of paper to get and already verified my birth certificate, along with my Russian passport, was acceptable. I did honestly believe that was the last I'd ever need of my birth certificate...

Secondly, the petition was part of the n-400 application itself. It is a separate certificate signed and stamped separately from the Naturalization Certificate. Both documents used the same exact DHS stamp. The strange part is the court name is left blank at the top even though it claims to be from District Court elsewhere.

I definitely do not disagree now that it is a pain and something worth noting! I had no choice to change it though once I sent in the application. I am extremely happy about my new Westernized name, and that I got to do it for free. I would rather have a proper document the District Court could copy though. Everyone seems to have claimed it's somewhere in the District Court system, but there is no case number, and nobody has ever seen this particular form. I still can't understand how DHS has anything to do with changing my name though. This just feels illegal to me.

Another annoying thing is that the embossing stamp barely came through and you can't see it on a copy...yet everyone has accepted it so far. It just looks and feels fake. In Russia all stamps are with colored ink, seals, and all kinds of things to make it clear something is official.

I just want to be Good Girl Gina and let everyone know my experience so far for what it is worth. I had lurked on the site for some time and nervously went through all the timelines at each stage, but I never had anything abnormal happen thankfully. I'm very glad the only difficulties have come after I have my passport. :-)

I'm not sure I understand your situation, but once you have a US passport, that should be all the proof that you need to prove your US nationality in order to immigrate to another country.

As for your name change, did you have to submit a separate petition (aside from the N400) to the court in order to have your name changed? Did you receive a name change court order or just the nat. cert. with your new name on it?

If you received a court order, you can just get that apostilled as proof of your new name and not the actual nat. cert. If you didn't receive a court order it may just be easier to obtain a court order reflecting your new name.

This is the reason why I tell people not to change their name through the naturalization process because it results in a myriad of problems later on lol.

USCIS seems to be very incompetent in this area because I remember when my grandma took back her maiden name through the N400, she wasn't even given a name change document and we had a really difficult time getting her documents changed, especially her SS card.

I hope your situation is resolved in time and good luck.

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I see. I didn't realize you were also having issues with your birth certificate. I ran into a similar problem when I changed my name here through the courts. The DR is even more nasty and wouldn't accept my name change order even with an apostille so I just threw their citizenship in their face lol.

Now the good thing here is that you were issued a name change document which should make things easier. Like I said before my grandma didn't get this and therefore we had a really tough time.

So, someone should know who has the authority of issuing an apostille for this document. It's definitely strange that there is no mention of the name of the court. It should be on the nat. Cert. though because on my mom's cert, it says which district court she took the oath in. Mind you she lost the name change document.

As for the nat. Cert, if you need it apostilled it looks like it has to be done in DC or mailed in.


This does not constitute legal advice.

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I can get an Apostille on the document I have since it is Federal. The problem is I have only have the original, and no idea how to replace it should it be lost in transit. Nobody knows where to make a certified copy or obtain a replacement.

In theory it should be easier than replacing the Naturalization Certificate, which I most likely won't ever need to use again. That certificate takes 5 months and $600 to replace, so that's why I headed straight to the passport office! In my mind at the time the risk of robbery or fire was too great. It felt like I had a winning lottery ticket and everybody knew after I received it! Thankfully I had to travel in two days and was able to get it right away.

So, someone should know who has the authority of issuing an apostille for this document. It's definitely strange that there is no mention of the name of the court. It should be on the nat. Cert. though because on my mom's cert, it says which district court she took the oath in. Mind you she lost the name change document.

As for the nat. Cert, if you need it apostilled it looks like it has to be done in DC or mailed in.

,

Edited by I<3Bureaucracy

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That's really frustrating lol. Someone should know where you can get a certified copy of this document because they can't expect you to have one copy forever.

I would contact your senator or congressman, they may be able to help. I definitely wouldn't trust the mail, it's already risky enough having to send the actual nat. cert. to get a passport.

Now if for some reason you are unable to obtain a certified copy before you have to leave, will you be able to do it afterwards or do you need it in order to enter the other country?


This does not constitute legal advice.

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My congressman (Susan Davis) is absolutely useless. She is too busy campaigning all of the time to keep her job to worry about issues like this. I am not sure I can blame her, an election every two years is craziness. When I contacted my California Senators once for an issue unrelated to immigration, they didn't even bother to reply. I don't have a strategy to politics now except to randomly vote for anyone but the incumbent. :-)

It seems that the answer is officially that your field office does the certified copies, and there is no other place to have this done. There is no way to get copies from abroad without appoint an attorney to represent you and to physically go into the office to get the copies. This part is really absurd and it needs to change. Everyone has been sympathetic to me and against the DHS. I think the energy for change is best spent getting rid of the DHS. I think the USCIS is doing as good of a job as they can.

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Hi,

I was just re-reading your original post. Did they even bother looking for your case file when you went to the court? Does your name change document have an index number?

If it does you may be able to check on the court's online system to see if they have your case record. If you can't look it up by the index number it should show up by your name as either the plaintiff or defendant, it could be either your old or new name, so check both.

This way you can just show up to court, give them the index number and tell them that you need a certified copy, instead of showing them your current name change certificate.

According to the link below, it looks like the district court where you naturalized is the one responsible for keeping this record and making the certified copy, not DHS or USCIS. It's perfectly possible that both of the clerks didn't know what was going on. Incompetence is everywhere.

You did the right thing by going to the court the first time, you just happened to encounter two idiots. And I mean that in the nicest way possible lol.

So, go again to the court with just the index number or case number, whatever system is it they use to track records, and show up without the certificate.

Just tell them you need a certified copy of a name change document. If they don't see the certificate they can't tell you they won't give you a certified copy, because once they pull it from their own records, they will see that it's a valid court document and that they have the authority to certify it.

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/need-proof-of-name-change-after-naturalization-ove-908081.html


This does not constitute legal advice.

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The copy is definitely made at the field office, I went today (have to come back tomorrow), but nobody has any idea about the court record. The US District Court cannot make certified copies as it bears a DHS stamp. There is no record of the case in PACER system, of mine or anybody else. It's a miscellaneous record number, but nobody knows the number.

I don't think I encountered any idiots at the court as they all had experience with naturalizations. Short of actually speaking to the judge, there wouldn't be much more I could have done. The judge will be notified about my difficulties, but I'm sure she is not a fan of the DHS and wish they would go away too! The good news is husband is from a legal family and I'm sure his parents will complain at every opportunity for the foreseeable future. And that's the most amazing part of it all. I currently live in a house with a judge and former clerk for a judge in the same District Court and they have no idea still. They came to the ceremony and were very upset with how it was run, mostly from German music being played beforehand and the lack of anyone from the military since it was Constitution and Citizenship Day. I live in San Diego, it is military capital of West Coast.

For every person thinking Obama is doing a poor job and wants Bush back, he did not start this fire. The DHS was a ploy that apparently took advantage of America's emotional weakness in the wake of 9/11. Rebranding is rarely a good thing. In Russia they rebranded the KGB as the FSB, and more recently the Militsia as Police to soothe the public's fragile mind. It was a ploy to take away freedom and manipulate people into thinking they had advanced, when in fact they regressed significantly. I'm sure Malaysia Airlines will also do the same and people will fall for it. The DHS is a "tax refund adjustment" to take words of Lisa Simpson.

Hi,

I was just re-reading your original post. Did they even bother looking for your case file when you went to the court? Does your name change document have an index number?

If it does you may be able to check on the court's online system to see if they have your case record. If you can't look it up by the index number it should show up by your name as either the plaintiff or defendant, it could be either your old or new name, so check both.

This way you can just show up to court, give them the index number and tell them that you need a certified copy, instead of showing them your current name change certificate.

According to the link below, it looks like the district court where you naturalized is the one responsible for keeping this record and making the certified copy, not DHS or USCIS. It's perfectly possible that both of the clerks didn't know what was going on. Incompetence is everywhere.

You did the right thing by going to the court the first time, you just happened to encounter two idiots. And I mean that in the nicest way possible lol.

So, go again to the court with just the index number or case number, whatever system is it they use to track records, and show up without the certificate.

Just tell them you need a certified copy of a name change document. If they don't see the certificate they can't tell you they won't give you a certified copy, because once they pull it from their own records, they will see that it's a valid court document and that they have the authority to certify it.

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/need-proof-of-name-change-after-naturalization-ove-908081.html

Edited by I<3Bureaucracy

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It looks like it's different for every jurisdiction because I was reading here on the district court website for southern NY and they have the records for naturalizations from 1996 to present. If the record is indeed at the field office someone should know where this can be obtained, it's not like you became a USC years ago and the records were archived. What I do find weird is that the court isn't allowed to make a certified copy because of the DHS stamps I always figured that federal courts had jurisdiction over all federal things. Anyway I hope you get this resolved in time, good luck!


This does not constitute legal advice.

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It's form G-24 they need to use I found out today. The copies also bear a DHS stamp. All is done, and all has ended well. I still don't have an answer on how to source a new one from the court. It might be possible, it might not be. I've left it for the lawyers I know to figure out. If anyone has the same problem as me they should schedule an infopass appointment as soon as they get their oath date for the very next day to do this. I will send the original now to Washington to be legalized with an Apostille.

I might not have been an active member of this community and only lurked, but I like documenting solutions for those who may come after me. My timeline is now accurate and updated. The process was relatively painless and everybody did exactly what they said they would do. I have to say it was a good experience overall even despite this last issue.

Onward to the next bureaucratic journey in the Netherlands! Godspeed fellow Americans and hopefuls in the pursuit of your dreams.

It looks like it's different for every jurisdiction because I was reading here on the district court website for southern NY and they have the records for naturalizations from 1996 to present. If the record is indeed at the field office someone should know where this can be obtained, it's not like you became a USC years ago and the records were archived. What I do find weird is that the court isn't allowed to make a certified copy because of the DHS stamps I always figured that federal courts had jurisdiction over all federal things. Anyway I hope you get this resolved in time, good luck!

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I'm glad you were able to get everything sorted out. I did a google search on this form and there doesn't seem to be much info about it. I see you're going to the Netherlands, that's great.

By the way I want to point out, I read one time that they require you to formally renounce all previous nationalities, so I wouldn't become a citizen there if you want to keep your USC.

This was back when I was considering immigrating to Europe I looked up the possible routes, I have family in a few European countries, but I decided I love the US too much lol. Good luck on your journey.


This does not constitute legal advice.

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