Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Immigration - Getting married with the same last name

Published:Tuesday | February 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Huntington,

I have been dating my boyfriend for nearly three years and he is a United States citizen. We recently decided to get married and start the filing for me so we can move forward with our relationship. The issue I am concerned about is the fact that we both have the same surname. I'm unsure if this will complicate the filing process or how to proceed in respect of this issue. Please advise me.


Dear CA:

Once you are married to an American citizen, you are an immediate relative and your petition would be processed in nine months to a year, if you remain outside the US during the processing. If you are inside the US pursuant to lawful entry, and are the immediate relative of a US citizen, you are eligible to adjust your status and that process can take four to six months.

Whether you are inside the US or not, the filing of an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is the application where US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the determination if the petitioner is eligible to petition (file) for the beneficiary. The documents submitted with the application, e.g. birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc, are used by USCIS to prove relationships.

In your case, although you have the same last name, it should not prevent you from being approved for a green card. USCIS is going to look at both your birth certificates to determine who your parents are and as long as your parents are not the same, it should not matter. Please keep in mind, however, that marrying a relative in order to secure immigration status is immigration fraud that will not only result in the denial of the petition, but also in the denial of any future petitions - forever.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida; and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Criminal Justice. Email