Mistake during citizenship interview

#1
Hello everyone,

I'm panicking very badly at the time of writing this (I have an anxiety disorder) so please excuse me if my post is all over the place or the pace of the writing seems rushed; feel free to ask for clarification on anything. So I had my citizenship interview a few weeks ago and mostly everything went well, I passed the civics and English test quite easily and everything. The thing is, while I was first applying for citizenship, the lawyer who helped me prepare the forms asked if I wanted to change my name. At the time, I knew I wanted to change my whole name, I just didn't know what I wanted to change it to. The lawyer said if I wanted I could wait until I got the interview and maybe I'd get another chance since they sometimes ask again if you want to change your name at that time. So that's what I did.

Eventually I got my citizenship interview letter and I showed up on the day of the appointment - by this time I had made up my mind on what I wanted to change my name to. When the interviewer (or immigration officer, I'm not sure what to call him?) started asking questions he eventually did ask if I wanted to change my name, then I said yes and told him what I wanted to change it to. When he asked why I wanted to change my name I explained it was because the surname was my maternal grandfather's last name. When I told him this he just seemed okay with it, all he asked was if my mother was okay with it, which I responded yes to (I had told her I was planning to change my name - but not what I was going to change it to) and whether I had any documents with that name (which I interpreted as "the name I wanted to change my name to") on it, to which I answered no (since it isn't my name yet, of course I don't have any documents with the name on it).

After that the interview proceeded smoothly, all that happened was he had me sign my new name a few times, saying it was for the naturalization certificate. At the end of the interview he told me I had passed the civics and English test, but didn't check the "Application recommended for approval" box on the N-652 Form I got, instead he checked "A decision cannot be made at this time" (or something approximating that) and explained they had to check some stuff. At this point I was already nervous so I don't remember very well what he said after that, but it was an explanation of how I'd get a letter in the mail explaining where I'd have to go for the Oath ceremony, which was apparently not going to be the USCIS center I interviewed at, but rather some kind of courthouse, and that this was because a name change was going to be involved. I recall my mother also had to attend a courthouse-style place when her ceremony took place, since she also changed her name, though in her case she was just removing one of her names.

Anyway, the reason for my panic is that I called my mother after my interview was over to let her know what had happened and when I told her about the name I had decided to change my name to and why she basically lost it and told me in a panic that the last name I had picked wasn't her father's last name, but the name of her father's best friend. The two were very close, and the way I knew the name was that my grandfather used to tell me stories about them and the things they did together. It turns out I had mistaken that last name as being my grandfather's second last name, probably because my grandfather used to say his friend was "like my other grandfather".

Like I said, I'm panicking now. I don't know what to do about this. I didn't intend to lie, I had honestly thought that was just one of my grandfather's last names at the time. In retrospect, it probably would've been better if I had told my mother what I was planning to change my name to and why, then she would've clarified beforehand. I just intended it to be a nice surprise for her (I'm currently named completely after my father, who was never there for me or her when I was growing up).

This was the only thing that went wrong during my interview. Everything else was fine. My record is totally clean except for a single traffic ticket that got dismissed anyway. I'm a university student studying Computer Science. If my application gets denied over this, will it affect my Permanent Resident status? Am I going to need a lawyer or something? Please help, I don't know anything about this type of thing and I haven't been able to sleep or eat properly for days over this. I can't even concentrate on my schoolwork.
 

c1984

Registered Users (C)
#2
Hello everyone,

I'm panicking very badly at the time of writing this (I have an anxiety disorder) so please excuse me if my post is all over the place or the pace of the writing seems rushed; feel free to ask for clarification on anything. So I had my citizenship interview a few weeks ago and mostly everything went well, I passed the civics and English test quite easily and everything. The thing is, while I was first applying for citizenship, the lawyer who helped me prepare the forms asked if I wanted to change my name. At the time, I knew I wanted to change my whole name, I just didn't know what I wanted to change it to. The lawyer said if I wanted I could wait until I got the interview and maybe I'd get another chance since they sometimes ask again if you want to change your name at that time. So that's what I did.

Eventually I got my citizenship interview letter and I showed up on the day of the appointment - by this time I had made up my mind on what I wanted to change my name to. When the interviewer (or immigration officer, I'm not sure what to call him?) started asking questions he eventually did ask if I wanted to change my name, then I said yes and told him what I wanted to change it to. When he asked why I wanted to change my name I explained it was because the surname was my maternal grandfather's last name. When I told him this he just seemed okay with it, all he asked was if my mother was okay with it, which I responded yes to (I had told her I was planning to change my name - but not what I was going to change it to) and whether I had any documents with that name (which I interpreted as "the name I wanted to change my name to") on it, to which I answered no (since it isn't my name yet, of course I don't have any documents with the name on it).

After that the interview proceeded smoothly, all that happened was he had me sign my new name a few times, saying it was for the naturalization certificate. At the end of the interview he told me I had passed the civics and English test, but didn't check the "Application recommended for approval" box on the N-652 Form I got, instead he checked "A decision cannot be made at this time" (or something approximating that) and explained they had to check some stuff. At this point I was already nervous so I don't remember very well what he said after that, but it was an explanation of how I'd get a letter in the mail explaining where I'd have to go for the Oath ceremony, which was apparently not going to be the USCIS center I interviewed at, but rather some kind of courthouse, and that this was because a name change was going to be involved. I recall my mother also had to attend a courthouse-style place when her ceremony took place, since she also changed her name, though in her case she was just removing one of her names.

Anyway, the reason for my panic is that I called my mother after my interview was over to let her know what had happened and when I told her about the name I had decided to change my name to and why she basically lost it and told me in a panic that the last name I had picked wasn't her father's last name, but the name of her father's best friend. The two were very close, and the way I knew the name was that my grandfather used to tell me stories about them and the things they did together. It turns out I had mistaken that last name as being my grandfather's second last name, probably because my grandfather used to say his friend was "like my other grandfather".

Like I said, I'm panicking now. I don't know what to do about this. I didn't intend to lie, I had honestly thought that was just one of my grandfather's last names at the time. In retrospect, it probably would've been better if I had told my mother what I was planning to change my name to and why, then she would've clarified beforehand. I just intended it to be a nice surprise for her (I'm currently named completely after my father, who was never there for me or her when I was growing up).

This was the only thing that went wrong during my interview. Everything else was fine. My record is totally clean except for a single traffic ticket that got dismissed anyway. I'm a university student studying Computer Science. If my application gets denied over this, will it affect my Permanent Resident status? Am I going to need a lawyer or something? Please help, I don't know anything about this type of thing and I haven't been able to sleep or eat properly for days over this. I can't even concentrate on my schoolwork.
My friend,

Relax! No fatal mistake here.

If you like the new name and want to keep it anyway, there's nothing you need to do or worry about. If you are worried that you gave a wrong background story, don't even bother. You didn't owe an explanation to the officer as to why you were choosing this particular new name. You could've picked any name, regardless of the reason. Of course, you were under oath, but you were not intentionally misleading. No problem at all.

If you are not happy with the new name, I personally am not informed enough to say whether you can still change it to something else before the oath ceremony. But, worst case scenario, you'll have to pay some fee later and go to court to change it to whatever you want. Again, no panic warranted.

Relax, my friend. I'm sorry if I didn't add enough to the discussion, just wanted to jump and let you know that there really isn't anything fatal happening here.
 
#3
My friend,

Relax! No fatal mistake here.

If you like the new name and want to keep it anyway, there's nothing you need to do or worry about. If you are worried that you gave a wrong background story, don't even bother. You didn't owe an explanation to the officer as to why you were choosing this particular new name. You could've picked any name, regardless of the reason. Of course, you were under oath, but you were not intentionally misleading. No problem at all.

If you are not happy with the new name, I personally am not informed enough to say whether you can still change it to something else before the oath ceremony. But, worst case scenario, you'll have to pay some fee later and go to court to change it to whatever you want. Again, no panic warranted.

Relax, my friend. I'm sorry if I didn't add enough to the discussion, just wanted to jump and let you know that there really isn't anything fatal happening here.
Not at all. Thank you very much. For someone like me who suffers from anxiety, reassurance like this is worth more than my weight in gold. Thanks so much again.
 
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