My wife is a Brazilian citizen (I am a US citizen), and we wanted to begin the process of applying for a green card for permanent residency in the US. Right now, she is an F-1 student visa with 1-year OPT. As part of this process, we also wanted to change her name.

Should we change her name before starting the process in Brazil? In the US? Or both? Or, should we apply for the green card under her current name and then change it once the process is complete?

All of her current documentation and IDs (visa, passport, OPT card, driver's license, social security card) uses her current name. The only thing that has her new name is our marriage certificate.

1 Answer 1


I think you're asking the question a bit too late, since she has already changed her name in the US. The new name is right there - on the marriage certificate. Now, you need to bring all the rest of the documentation up to date with the new name.

  • I don't think this constitutes a legal name change in the US, though.
    – Mark
    Feb 9, 2015 at 14:12
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    @Mark it does. Check your State laws. That's one of the very few occasions where you can change the name without going through the court approval process (another being, for example, a change during the naturalization process).
    – littleadv
    Feb 9, 2015 at 14:13
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    Indeed, I think you are right. I live in Michigan and most legal sites I have checked list the steps to get new IDs (i.e. driver's license) using the marriage certificate. Thanks!
    – Mark
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:20

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