Yesterday, I visited the St. Louis office of USCIS. I met my client for a naturalization interview. During the interview, the examining officer reviewed various identification documents that my client submitted – including a birth certificate, his drivers license, his baptismal certificate and his national ID. As it turns out, each form of identification had a different version of his name.
One ID lacked his middle name, one ID spelled his first name differently than the other IDs, one ID reversed his middle names. The examining officer is a seasoned professional who was not flustered by the discrepancies. She did the sensible thing and simply reviewed the IDs with my client. Because an alien has the chance to change the spelling of their name during the naturalization process, she suggested that my client use the opportunity to clean up the spelling of his name so that he had one version of his name moving forward. My client passed his naturalization and appears to be on the road to citizenship.
I bring up this story because, in this instance, my client happened to be from Canada. He was a white individual and he came from a neighboring country. I want to point out that I have represented many individuals from predominantly Arab and Muslim countries who had much less significant discrepancies in the way their names were depicted on various identifying documents. In many of those instances, my clients have been accused by some of the other officers of the St. Louis field office of sneakiness and/or outright fraud. I have to think that at least part of the reason that it was not an issue this time was because my client happened to be a white man from Canada.