Law and Software

FNU – First Name Unknown

[June, 2013] By Andy Bartlett. Filed under: Immigration Law

What to do about FNU? Some people come to the United States from places in the world where only one name is used. If that name is their given name, then their immigration documentation – and maybe their drivers’ license as well will have FNU for their first name. First Name Unknown. Or if the name is their first name, then they might get GNU – nothing to do with the free software foundation – but Given Name Unknown. They live their lives as FNU or GNU.

I looked through an N-400 for a FNU person. What to do about FNU? If that’s the name on the green card, that’s what has to go on the form. But there is a tempting extra section on page 1 for the name you want to use. Maybe that would let FNU start life as a citizen with a real name.

Maybe. But only if the place that FNU lives in allows for judicial oath ceremonies. A judge can take the oath and change your name at the same time. Northern California doesn’t do these ceremonies, so at least here, filling out that extra section doesn’t help. I’ve been asking immigration lawyers about FNU at every opportunity. What to do about FNU? But when I have to explain what FNU is, I’m not going to get the answer. All I could find out was that USCIS has not been given any authority by Congress to change anyone’s name. So if someone wants to drop their FNU, it has to be done in state court.

At the end of my own naturalization interview, the officer asked if I had any questions. She knew I was a (baby) lawyer. So she didn’t seem to mind when I asked her *the question*. What do you do about FNU? At last. Someone who knows about FNU and GNU. And had the answer. You start the name change process before you send in the N-400. And you complete the extra section. And if you bring the name-change certificate to the interview, they will honor it. No big deal. Really. No big deal.



36 Responses to “FNU – First Name Unknown”

  1. Bejo Abraham Says:


    can you please explain what are things which i have to do to remove fnu from my green card. can i change the name by submitting the birth certificate?. or do i need to split the name in passport.currently my passport have surname as long will it take to replace my green card with correct name(FNU removed)?

  2. admin Says:

    First, you need to make sure that your “state” documentation has your correct name – e.g. your drivers’ license. My client had to go to court to get her name corrected (USCIS cannot change your US legal name). Then you will send in an I-90 to USCIS – ticking the box that says that your name has legally changed since you got your green card, and providing evidence of the “change” – I understand it may not be a real change – your passport may be correct, but this is about correcting the name on your legal documents in the US. Good luck.

  3. Tusharika Says:

    On my H4 visa, first name is FNU and last name is the first name mentioned in my passport as I don’t have a surname. But when I filed for my visa extension, in the approval letter, they made my first name as NO NAME GIVEN and last name remains the same. DMV office sees this as a name mismatch and denied driver’s license to me. What should be done?

  4. admin Says:

    This is the sort of non-legal issue that can really frustrate people. If you can get to speak to a supervisor at the DMV, you might point out that “No Name Given” means the same as FNU. Or the lawyer that helped with your visa might be able to write a letter to them or call. If you plan to stay in the united states for a while, it might be worth a name change in state court. Then you’ll have a surname. USCIS will honor it (see the post and comments above) and you will not be in FNU limbo. Non of this is legal advice, just thoughts about how you can get over this silliness.

  5. Ali Says:

    Dear Sir,
    I have received my green card with no given name and they put my given name that located in passport and us visa as a surname and left the given name as no given name
    The surname has three words and the exactly spelling as third, first second names what can I do with this situation ?

    Thank you

  6. nikhil Says:

    Hi All….
    I am also the FNU club…and my VISA extension is in process …I have correct name (without FNU) on I-94 & SSN but have FNU on I-797. So, I wanted to ask…will I get any issue during VISA extension….???

  7. Abdul Haq Says:

    I came to US in Jan 2014, still I didn’t get my green card. my name first name is “FNU” and my first name is printed into my last name in my visa. can I change my name before I get my green card, to whom should I contact.

  8. admin Says:

    The most common reason for not receiving your green card is that you haven’t paid the immigrant fee – or you have paid the fee, but the name issue has confused their billing system. It sounds like there has been a typographical error in your visa processing and that caused the FNU. Time for INFOPASS or a visit to a local immigration attorney. Good luck!!!

  9. Johnk889 Says:

    I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again! cfadbbkeabge

  10. imbia Says:

    Hi sir I had this FNU too on my green card and my visa.this was because I had no surname in my passport but I have a driver’s license with the fnu in it.what should I do as it is in my license too?can I still change it when am filling for citizenship? Please what can I do at this point

  11. FNU Says:

    I asked immigration office to change my name in green card. and they already did.
    I have my green card with my actual name but now I have a problem.
    anywhere I am going to change my name like bank, work and … they ask for court certificate for name change.
    How can I get court certificate??

  12. admin Says:

    You need to go to state court and ask for a name change. This is very standard. It takes a few months for a judge to approve, then it is done. Congress has not given USCIS statutory authority to change people’s names. Immigration believed you had changed your name and wanted the card to reflect your new name.

  13. admin Says:

    They did not actually change your name – just the name printed on your card. You change your name either on a marriage certificate or through the courts. I can see you do have a problem.

  14. Anand Starlin Says:


    I am having Surname as Blank in my Passport .. And in the Visa they have mentioned Surname as my Given name and in Given Name they have mentioned FNU..Will it Create a problem in US for getting SSN ,Driving License etc…

  15. admin Says:

    If you can, change your name and passport to have both a given name and a family name. FNU is no fun.

  16. Vic Says:

    It took me 8 months and finally I have corrected my name on Passport, I-797,I-94, SSN, Visa and got my driving licence.
    Please follow the blog and let me know in case of any query.

    I can understand the pain of all this process so I have written each n everything in detail for all FNU friends.

  17. admin Says:


  18. admin Says:

    well done

  19. Anonymous Says:

    How do we get a “name change certificate”?

  20. admin Says:

    You change your name in the courts in the place where your home is. If you are resident in the United States you can do it here. If you are on a non-immigrant visa, you should do it back home.

  21. fnu Says:

    i came to US on Aug 2014 , my wife first name is FNU , i stay in Baton rouge LA but the DMV won’t issue her a driver licences to my wife even though she has FNU on her SSN , VISA, Medicaid, and green card , so how should i get her licence , its not fair

  22. admin Says:

    since you are a permanent resident, get her name changed in the courts. And then you can fix your documentation. No-one should have to endure FNU in their lives.

  23. Nomi Says:


    My 1.5 Year old kid has his first name blank in passport. His first name on H4 visa is FNU and Last name same as in passport i.e. “AAA BBB”.

    His birth certificate and birth registration certificates has his correct name i.e. First name AAA and Last Name BBB.

    He is in USA on H4 visa. I want to ask would a name split for kid also need to be done through court?

  24. admin Says:

    It sounds like birth documentation is correct and passport is wrong. The passport needs to be corrected. If his legal name is already correct, the courts can’t help.

  25. FNU Says:


    I am an Indian student who is currently pursuing my Master in USA with a F1 Visa. I am facing a lot difficulties here since I do not have a surname on my passport. Since I don’t have a surname on my passport, on my I20 and visa my given name is taken as my last name and my first name will be FNU. This is creating a lot of issues since they are telling that there is a mismatch between the documents. Now I want to get in corrected and take my father’s name as my surname. So after all the process my name should be as below in all my documents

    Given Name : XXXX
    Last Name : YYYY

    Currently my passport has

    Given Name : XXXX
    Last Name :

    Kindly let me know the step wise process to get the FNU removed.

  26. admin Says:

    You need to get your name changed/corrected officially back home. Then fix your passport… and then your US documentation.

  27. Anuj Rastogi Says:

    Dear Friends,

    I am also having FNU on my L2 VISA and in I-94. Now in my new passport I have splitted my name and made it properly.

    Could anyone please let me know What type of appointment I need to take from USCIS for correction of FNU name in my I-94 and VISA?

    Please reply.


  28. admin Says:

    Your visa is in your old passport – so you will have to travel with it. When it is time to renew, your name change will be on the new visa.

  29. Neil Says:

    Hey Guys,
    As above people said my Indian Passport did not have a Surname and thus the Green card I received has FNU and my given name on the Indian Passport. However DMV in CT printed my name as JOHNDUFFY as my name which was my given name in Indian Passport. I am using the split name process to change my name in the Indian Passport. With that change can USCIS make the change on my G card? Or I should go with my birth certificate and USCIS can change the name? Also if the above options work, is it still needed to go to court to change the name.. Advise is appreciated.

    N. T

  30. admin Says:

    Your name is what is on your birth certificate. If you have corrected the passport error, this is one case where USCIS may be able to solve the problem without the need of a court name change. After all, your name hasn’t changed. Otherwise, USCIS has no statutory authority to change someone’s legal name but will honor a name change from a court – and in some jurisdictions where you take your natz oath in front of a federal judge, the judge can do it as part of the natz process

  31. Mrs. D Says:

    Another addition to the FNU club, that’s me. My I-94 had FNU, but I did not realize the nuisance it would create in my life here in the US. The Social Security Office, bank, DMV refused to remove FNU from my name. Appeared for High School Equivalency test and my diploma bears FNU. Unfortunately, there is no option to change my name on the diploma. Working on a degree as full-time student now and everybody refers to me as Fnu. Issue arose due to my passport and I have corrected my Indian passport here in the US through BLS. Applying for removal of conditions (ROC). Asked USCIS if I could change name along with the process of ROC. Was told that it is a separate process and I need to file I-90. Cannot file the I-90 until after the ROC finishes processing. Do not want to go the court way of name change.

  32. admin Says:

    If it was due to a (now corrected) passport error, then when you come to file for naturalization then your “legal name” in the form will be your correct passport name – and this should appear on your natz certificate. To be absolutely sure, I would complete the “name change” section so that they realize they have to change their records – and then provide the evidence of your correct name at interview. They should honor it.

  33. Paul Thompson Says:

    This was the first ever link that answered my question with FNU after years of hunt.I have a question can i go to state Court and get my name corrected while my GC application is in process or should i wait for GC card and Do it?

  34. admin Says:

    USCIS will honor any lawful name change. So if your GC application will end with an interview, you should take your court paper and show it to the officer. If there is no interview, then you can submit the information in writing but there is no guarantee it will get to the right desk in time, and you may end up having to file/pay for a new card in the new name after approval.

  35. Nithya Says:

    I am planning to correct the blank surname field in my passport at the time of renewal so I have first name and last name, will this affect my already stamped visa?

  36. admin Says:

    I cannot see why it would

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