FNU stands for First Name Unknown. It is used on immigration documents and by the Social Security Administration when the person in question only has one name, which is assigned as the last name. So, for example, Mr. Abdullah becomes Mr. FNU Abdullah.
Some cultures use more than one last name. Others use none at all, so only have one name, which is common in Afghanistan.
The Afghan SIV Connection
With the surge in Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, which will continue this fiscal year, as well, you have likely already seen an increase in clients names FNU.
In FY14, the Washington DC metro area resettled the highest number (1,783) of Afghan SIVs followed by California (1,709), Texas (652) and New York (217).
That’s a lot of clients with high skills and expectations. it could also mean a lot of FNUs.
The Problem with FNUs and SIVs
Due to some complex legal and procedural details that involve several government agencies, the way FNU names are listed in Afghan SIV documentation are different than how they are listed on social security cards.
We all know that can means failure to pass background checks, inability to obtain additional identity documents, confusion around obtaining a range of benefits and delays in immigration status adjustments.
How You Can Help Advocate for a Solution
Share your examples of how your clients have been negatively affected and how you have been able to address the problem.
The issue is known and being discussed at high levels among the government agencies involved. Higher will share your stories with those advocating for a resolution and with our network so we can learn what is working for others.
Some sites are having some success by working with their local Social Security Administration to request name changes so they match the Permanent Resident Status that SIVs are given initially. That’s time consuming and doesn’t really fix the problem.