We have recently published information on applying for an Indian Passport. Some of the unlucky ones, who applied for passports prior to the full online system, may have got their passport with their surname blank in the passport. This could be a clerical or system error, but it can cost you a lot in the future, if not corrected. This article will focus on the common issues around this ‘blank surname’ problem in America and solutions for the same.
What is FNU – First Name Unknown? Why do I see FNU in First Name field in my US Visa?
In general, Surname, Family Name, or Last Name is the most important thing that identifies a person’s origin and it is used across everything as the primary identifier. If due to some mistake or clerical error in your passport, you get a Blank Surname or Given Name in your passport, and if you do not get it fixed, the US consulate will issue your US Visa with the existing name in your passport as the Last Name in US visa and the first name field will be written as FNU. It is a common practice in the US immigration system to use FNU as the first name in such instances. Check US Embassy Website FAQs for FNU
Below are couple of examples :
This is how it would look on passport
Case I :
- Given Name: “ Vikas Nathan”
- Surname: “ “ ( Blank )
Case 2 :
- Given Name: “ “ ( Blank)
- Surname: “Vikas Nathan”
In both of the above cases, your US Visa in your passport would look like
- First Name : FNU
- Last Name : “Vikas Nathan”
Can I go to US with Blank Surname in Passport ? What is the problem with FNU as first name ? How does it impact my life in USA?
The fact is that you will be able to go to the US with a blank First name or blank Surname in your passport, but your life gets tough afterward. You will face issues in places like DMV, when you try to get a Driving License or at the SSA office, when you try to apply for a Social Security Number ( SSN).
Many US government officials may not be aware of what it means ‘FNU’. They will always try to verify your documents against your Passport and other identity verification documents…Unfortunately, there will be a mismatch as your prior certificates and passport does not have FNU. You will be asked by DMV and SSA office to get your passport and immigration documents corrected to issue a license. You will be in a complicated situation. To avoid such instances, please get your passport corrected before you proceed with anything like taking GRE or TOEFL, applying for US visa, etc.
What is the solution, if your Surname is Blank in Passport and you have FNU as the First Name in your US Visa ?
Simple answer: Get your passport Corrected! Make sure your surname or family name corresponds to your actual family name or initial in your certificates and first name or given name matches with your given name.
If you are in India – Get your name in passport fixed
All you need to do is go to Passport Seva Kendra and apply for a re-issue of your Indian passport with the name change. It is fairly straightforward. The advantage of getting this corrected before your US move or Visa is that all your future documents will be perfect and you will be good.
If you are in USA with FNU as first name on US Visa, I-20, I-94 or I-797 and Blank Surname in Passport
Because all your immigration documents have FNU as first name, your first job is get your passport fixed and then get your other documents fixed.
Step 1 : Get your names in the Passport fixed with the correct Surname and Given Name
Step 2 : Get your immigration documents like I-94, I-797, and I-20 Fixed
How to get your Indian Passport with Blank Surname corrected in USA
- You will need to go to the Indian Consulate Website that serves your state and check for the process to change your name.
- Depending on the type of name change you may end up in two scenarios
- Name Bifurcation or Split: If it is just a name bifurcation, means splitting your name into two. For instance, if your surname is blank and your Given name is “Vikas Nath” and you want to split it as Given Name: Vikas and Surname : Nath, it could be done at the Indian consulate by adding a small observation in the passport indicating the same. A sample would look like what you see in the below image. This depends on the Indian consulate officer you are interacting with and it depends on their discretion. They may ask you to follow the below name change process as well.
- Changes in Processes: Also, there are continuous process changes and it may or may not work as there may be need to publish the name in Gazette and then have it updated. So, always check with the Indian Embassy to ensure, what works best.
- Name Change in Passport: If you are going for a name change in your passport then, you will need to follow the below steps. It can vary by the consulate and you will need to follow their instructions.
- You will need to publish an Ad in a reputed US newspaper regarding your name change and submit the newspaper clipping to the Indian consulate with supporting documents like your residence proof, I-94, etc.
- You will also need to publish an Ad in a reputed Indian News paper regarding your name change and submit the newspaper clipping to the Indian consulate with supporting documents. Check with the Indian consulate for exact instructions.
- You can appear in person or mail the required documents to the Indian consulate. You will receive your passport with name change done.
How to Get your US Immigration Documents Corrected.
After you get your name corrected in your Passport, you need to check for your nearest USCIS office and schedule an appointment with USCIS immigration officer using InfoPass and get the system updated with your correct name in your passport. You will be asked by an immigration officer in USCIS to work with a CBP officer, probably in the same building, to get a new I-94 with your correct name on it.
In 2017, one of our users reported that the CBP officer and USCIS appointment did not help with fixing the last name and they suggested going to their home country. I suggest you check with USCIS and CBP and plan for your travel before you make any plans to do the above changes.
Once these steps are completed, you can go to the DMV and get your Driving license and go to the SSN office and get the SSN with the correct information.
Do I have to go for a new US Visa Stamping after this Blank Surname Correction?
Typically, it is NOT required. You will need to carry your old passport and the new passport with an updated name. Also, supporting documentation like your visit to USCIS, Name change documents, Home country driving license or any other identity documents, if any like news paper Ad, etc, just to ensure that you are the right person. Immigration regulations keep changing, you SHOULD check with a USCIS Officer or any of the US Embassy to clarify the current requirements.
Can I use US Visa Dropbox / Interview Waiver option, if I have to get a new visa stamp on Passport?
If you are eligible for the general US Visa Dropbox/ Visa Interview Waiver requirements as listed on USTravelDocs Interview Waiver Requirements, you can use such option to submit your documents and get US visa stamp on your new passport with the name corrected on it.
FNU Name Correction Experience by M Ghiyas – March 2018.
I had similar problem but It got resolved recently with help of my Employer/Attorney. I followed below
1. Surname was Blank on Indian Passport ( Still 3 more years valid)
2. Visa had FNU and Last Name as ABC’ ‘XYZ’ ( It will expire in 10 months 09/2017 )
3. I-94 had FNU and Last Name as ABC’ ‘XYZ’
4. DMV issued US License with First Name as Blank and Last Name as ‘ABC’ ‘XYZ’
5. SSN office issued First Name as “Unknown” and Last Name as ABC’ ‘XYZ’
and list of problems started.
Follow below steps to get rid of problems
Step1 – Wait until you renew/extend your petition.
Step2 – Apply for Reissue of Passport with Split in Name ( You will get new passport with 10 years expiry)
Step3 – Apply for extension of petition with new passport with corrected name (Some where in I-129 you need to mention old names used as FNU ‘ABC’ ‘XYZ” this should be taken care by your employer/attorney while filing extension)
Step 4 – You will get I-797A with corrected name ( this will correct your will I-94 details too)
Step 5 – Goto SSN office , give your SSN card with new passport , I-797A. With few days you will get new SSN with corrected name then goto DMV and get name corrected.
PS: Then take deep breath.
Thanks to Ghiyas for sharing his experience.
What has been your experience with FNU ?
Were you questioned at the Port of Entry regarding FNU ?
References and Experiences of people with FNU and Surname Blank Issue