San Diego Citizenship Attorney – Procedure for a legal name change during the naturalization process

In a recent meeting between the American Immigration Lawyers Association and USCIS the following question was raised:
What is the policy regarding the procedure for a legal name change during the naturalization process. We understand that the CIS permits applicants to complete a petition for legal name change during the application interview. However, at least one field office prohibits male applicants from legally assuming their spouse’s last name, absent a separate legal name change. This practice conflicts with USCIS policy. Please clarify the agency policy.

USCIS representatives responded:
We appreciate your concerns regarding any practice you believe conflicts with established USCIS policy. On this particular question, we know that some Districts have had a misunderstanding regarding name changes based on state law that prohibits a man from taking his wife’s last name when they marry. USCIS sent guidance to the field on January 25, 2011 reiterating to all of our offices that an applicant may change his or her name to any name approved by a court of competent jurisdiction.

So the conclusion is, no matter the State of your residence or the local laws regarding name change, at the Naturalization interview you may change your name to any name including your wife’s last name if you chooses to do so.