fnu lnu visa blank surname solution

How to Fix FNU, LNU in Your US Visa Stamp When Passport Doesn’t Have a Surname?

I have written a lot about this issue – Missing Surname in the Indian Passport and the impact of FNU on your Visa.

Vasalath wrote the following guide as a post in the Facebook group. I have cleaned it up to be published as a blog post.

Is your surname field on Indian Passport Blank?

  • Get a new passport before getting US Visa stamped
  • If your visa is stamped
    • Before Travel: Get New Passport and New Visa Stamp
    • After Entering USA: Get New Passport before getting DL, SSN, etc
  • If you already got documents with FNU
    • Follow the process described below to fix FN or LNU issues.

The Blank Surname Problem

You will have aplenty of problems with FNU in your visa.

Here is one example from the State of Lousiana.

I know a friend of mine, who lives in Lousiana on H4 Visa. He wants to go to college. But, he can’t get a Drivers License in LA. His school is about an hour’s drive from home.

Just like my freind, let’s learn from Vasalath about his experience.

Like me and many others from this group if you also have FNU/LNU in your US Visa by now you might have already faced its consequences.

So this post is for those who has FNU/LNU in their US visa specifically, which follows them as a nightmare at every department here in US.

For this example let us consider the following name of a person.

  • Full name: Apple Ball Cat

So first thing first it starts from India.

We don’t give much importance to “Surname” in our passport. We just care if our name is printed correctly without being misspelled.

So the moment we first get our passport we have already boarded the flights of our imagination!

If your passort has Given Name and Surname (as follow)

  • Given Name: Apple Ball
  • Surname: Cat

You can stop reading right now. You will not have any of the issues described below.

The main issue occurs when people like us go for interview who has

  • Given Name: Apple Ball Cat
  • Surname: ________ (surname field blank)

Here in the US, they give very much importance to Last Name (aka Surname or Family Name). Their applications and systems are designed so that they cannot be bypassed without the Last Name field.

So the first time when we submit our passport copy when applying to Universities to get admission and form I-20, your DSO will print the I-20 as

  • Given Name: Apple Ball Cat
  • Surname: _______ (left blank as per our passport)

When we go for a visa interview and the visa is approved as I just mentioned they cannot leave the surname name field blank as our university did with the passport.

Obviously they cannot put “CAT” as your last name. So what would they do?

  • Given Name: FNU
  • Surname: Apple Ball Cat

Here’s what US Embassy in the UK had to say about this.

fnu usa visa blank surname given name

So now your passport spells your name as

Given Name: Apple Ball Cat
Surname: ______ (Blank)

But your Visa will be stamped as

First Name: FNU
Last Name: Apple Ball Cat

Here’s an actual stamped US Visa with FNU

Till now, you will really not worry about this name mismatch. You will happily board the flight and come to the USA.

FNU and Blank Surname Problems

The moment your approach the CBP officer at the port of entry, the officer scans your passport, takes fingerprints, and checks your visa. They will then check in their database records for people who are wanted list, and as you know, there may be thousands of people who have entered the US with FNU as their first name.

So the CBP officer cannot check for your right away as there may maybe several others waiting behind you in line.

So, for this reason, they will ask you to follow them to a secondary screening room where other CBP officers will verify your records and let you enter the US.

This can take anywhere from 15 mins to hours. The first time it might take longer as your I-94 record needs to be created.

For me it took 8 hours when I first came. Landed at 6.30 am and came out of the airport 2pm.

Now, you have entered the USA. But, wait, the problems are not over. It’s just getting started.

You will join university and your email id will be created with “FNU, APPLE BALL CAT”.

  • CBP (I-94) – FNU is added

Then you will want to get a driving license. Folks who did have this issue will take their drivign test exam, drivign test and go home with temporary license the same day.

Whereas my friend, DMV folks will need to verify your details and get approval from DHS to give you a Driving license so they will raise a request with the SAVE system.

They will ask you to come back again with the letter from DHS at your address confirming that you are good to go and they can issue the DL and your visa is valid.

  • CBP (I-94) – FNU is added
  • Driving License – FNU is added

Then comes your OPT Card. You will apply for OPT before your graduation. You will fill the name as per the Passport and Visa.

  • CBP (I-94) – FNU is added
  • Driving License – FNU is added
  • EAD Card – FNU is added

Then comes the kicker!

Your Social Security Number. Everything in the USA is tied to your Social Security Number. Now, it will have FNU.

Sometimes, SSN might be issued before your OPT Card comes into picture.

The SSN card will have your full name printed. Don’t feel happy that your full name is printed on the SSN Card. In their records, you will still be FNU, which creates problems while filing taxes.

sample-SSN-card-work-authorization-only

Where are we with FNU in the records?

  • CBP (I-94) – FNU is added
  • Driving License – FNU is added
  • EAD Card – FNU is added
  • SSN – FNU is added

Once you have your SSN, you will apply for Credit Card. Your credit score will not get updated correctly if you go to apply for a permanent license they need to verify your name in your passport with social which again creates conflicts with name mismatch.

  • CBP (I-94) – FNU is added
  • Driving License – FNU is added
  • EAD Card – FNU is added
  • SSN – FNU is added
  • Credit Card – FNU is added

After getting a job, the employer will have no idea what the hell FNU is. On the whole, everywhere you will face problems with FNU.

Then your employer applies for H1B, you get selected in the lottery and H1B is approved.

  • CBP (I-94) – FNU is added
  • Driving License – FNU is added
  • EAD Card – FNU is added
  • SSN – FNU is added
  • Credit Card – FNU is added
  • H1B Approval – FNU is added

One fine day, you are waiting in the doctors office. Nurse walks out and calls out – “Fu-N-You”. Now officially you have a new name now, FNU (Fu-N-You).

How to Fix Blank Surname?

The best thing is always to cut the root of the problem, so I would strongly recommend fixing your name in the Indian passport in tatkal or whatever while you are in India and approach for the visa interview.

Oh! I missed about GRE, TOEFL score report not matching your actually name!

If you read this article, then I would recommend fixing it even before taking GRE, TOELF, IELTS or SAT test. Then apply to Universities.

Let’s say you got visa stamped and you have time before your trip. Do this:

  • Apply for a new passport
  • Split your name as
    • Given Name: Apple Ball
    • Surname: Cat (the last name should preferably one word).
  • Once you have your new passport you are eligible for the dropbox facility.
  • You don’t need to attend for visa interview again but you need to pay the visa fee to get the new stamp on your passport.

If you were to read this after you got the visa is issued and don’t have sufficient time before, please don’t try this. Board your flight.

Welcome to the USA! Welcome to the FNU Line!

Can it be fixed while in US? How to do it?

Yes. It can be fixed in US.

How to Change (Split) Name in Passport in USA

You should always say name Corrected name as there is huge difference between name change (after marriage or adoption etc) and name correction.

  • Step 1: First apply for a new passport at your nearby Indian consulate (choose the reason for the new passport as “Name Split”)
  • Step 2: Write ur name as said above “Given Name: Apple Ball” Surname: Cat”
  • Step 3: Let ur DSO know that you have CORRECTED (not changed) and she will print a new I-20 after seeing your new passport.

The new I-20 will now have your names as “Given Name: Apple Ball” Surname: Cat” which is way different from your initial I-20.

You are done with you name correction.

Earlier it used to be that you can have your name corrected at POE after booking an appointment with them for such cases, now they have stopped it.

They won’t change it while you are in-country as the passport no is changed now (new passport) and your old passport is canceled (all valid visas still valid)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will your face any issue when you leave the country?

No, as long as u r carrying both the passports.

2. Can you get your EAD corrected and get rid of FNU on it?

Yes you can can but you need to pay the EAD card fees again (USPS is smiling and getting ready to misplace ur EAD Card. So stay away even from thinking about it).

At POE they mostly won’t check even if they do, you can read out this post to them.

3. Can your get your license fixed and get rid of FNU on it?

DMV department follows what’s in your I-94 record and they will print your license the same way as your I-94 (with FNU). But if you followed these steps correctly before getting your EAD and got your EAD with the corrected name then they have to follow ur EAD and they will have ur correct name on ur license and in their internal records as well.

So you got your name fixed in Passport, University Records, License.

The only thing left is SSN which can only be fixed once you exit and re-enter the country with a new passport and correct name. Then apply for new I-94 with everything corrected.

As they only follow your I-94 records once your get a new corrected i94 just approach any SSA fill a form for the name Corection (not change) and show your new I-94 they will update it for you and send you a SS card if you wish.

If you are anywhere close to Canada border your can exit US enter Canada and re-enter US with new passport and you will get new i94. Then you are all set and ur name is correct everywhere now.

By the way, your new Canadain tourist Visa will not have FNU!

You will follow the same process for LNU (Last name Unknown) as well.

The above-mentioned steps are tried and followed by me so it’s my personal experience that I shared for helping many others like me who are still confused and gets lots of doubts.

For those who are really worried about their visa/visas in old passport, I have Canada Visa (in my old cancelled passport) but travelled multiple times without any issues with my new passport.

I just carry both the passports and be able to justify and prove you have name changed.

4. What if I have just one word given name?

You would add a new surname to the the passport. Typically surname is Family Name (or Father’s first name). If nothing is done, your visa will look First Name: FNU, Last Name: “single-word-name”.

Here’s one person who corrected the name had to say.

I just got this corrected this year. I only had a single name but added my father’s name as the last name with my birth certificate. It was the easiest way to add in a passport. Then change in I20, social security and license.

5. Will it be a problem getting a job?

My SSN has the first name as ‘FNU’ and the last name as “XYZ”. But my EAD has the first name as ‘No Name Given’ and last name as ‘XYZ’. Can anyone help me figure out if any employer will accept that or will I have to get one of these documents changed?

Your employer will not have an issue in hiring you. But, when it comes to e-verify, there may not be a match. Just make sure to get it fixed before employer applies for STEM OPT or H1B.

Bonus Tip

Don’t worry if you are stopped for secondary screening like me for hours it’s for nation’s security and we have to co-operate. Even Shah Rukh Khan has FNU and he is held back for hours whenever he visits here.

For those of you (who don’t want to fix FNU) and are frequent travelers who are tired of this secondary screenings like me can request the DHS to remove your name from the list of their database by filling a form and mailing it to them.

So next time when your travel despite having FNU you will be done with immigration quickly without secondary screening.

The Long Game vs Impact

Here’s the list of documents where your name requires correction

  • CBP (I-94)
  • Driving License
  • EAD Card
  • SSN
  • Credit Card
  • H1B Notice
  • Bank Account

As you stay longer in the USA, the list grows.

  • Utilities Account (Gas, Power, Internet)
  • Mobile Phone Account
  • Car Insurance
  • Rental Lease Agreement
  • Home Mortgage
  • Home Insurance
  • Car Title

So, what re you going to do about fixing FNU, LNU and blank surname in the passport.

By the way, if you have multiple Surname Names, you will have different sorts of trouble. I know folks with 4 words in the Surname and 2 more words in the Given Name. Software systems have a limit of text input length 🙂

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