I intend to apply for a green card in the US after my PhD. I want to use my family name in my publications. However, it's not the same name in my passport (legal name). How difficult will it be to prove that these are my publications when I apply for a green card? Will that be an issue at all?


2 Answers 2


This is partially a legal question and I am not a lawyer, and not an immigration attorney specialized in helping people with getting green cards and citizenship. I can only comment as an immigrant to the US myself and as a letter writer on rare occasions.

Presumably, you will need to address your qualifications sometimes after the Ph.D. when you submit your green card application or citizenship application. For this, you will need to have letters of recommendations. The letters are open to you as -- I think -- you will be the one that has to submit them. (I have written such letters and communicated with the applicant before and after.) Ask one or more of your letter writers to address the fact that you publish under a different name. At least some of the letter writers should comment on your publication record. Your Ph.D. advisor should be one of them. People that cite you, especially with some praise, should be another set of letter writers.

You need to find an immigration attorney or a (retired?) homeland security agent to find out whether they scan your CV for whether your claimed publications are truly yours, but I think that Homeland Security will rely mainly on the letter writers and on your degree to assess your scientific credentials.

Since artistic and scientific pseudonyms are not infrequent, Homeland should be used to them.


You can publish under any name you choose. I recommend consistency, however, unless you publish in more than one field, in which case, consistency within that field. You don't need to use a legal name, nor the name on your passport.

To make it simpler to claim your work, however, you can get an Orcid Identifier and associate that with your work. This won't leave you anonymous, of course, just the opposite.

For green cards and such, you need to comply with legal requirements, of course, but not for authorship.

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