What is FNU?

What is FNU (First Name Unknown) ?
VISA & Predeparture

What is FNU (First Name Unknown) ?

What is the FNU Issue in VISA

A lot of students have been asking us if having ‘FNU’ on the visa will lead to difficulties in the US. Hence we decided to write a detailed article explaining the exact meaning of FNU.  

“If you have only one name or if your name appears in only one line in your passport, then on the visa your full name will only be printed in the surname field and “First Name Unknown”, or “FNU,” will be printed in the given name field.” — (Taken from ustraveldocs.com)

To begin with, having FNU on your docs is not really a concern. The concern here is whether your passport and visa stamp matches your I-20 or not.  While you are in the US, your I-20 is the most important document that shows your legal status as an f1 status and your passport is your Identity proof.  When you apply for important documents like SSN or driving licence, they will primarily check your I-20 and passport.  Therefore, to avoid any hassles, it is important to maintain similarities in these documents.

Now, due to various cultural norms, there are variations in the way names are written.  In many cultures, students do not have a last name, but use their father’s name as surname—

E.g.—Shriraj Sukumaran

Usually, their names appear in one line on their passport and the surname field is blank, something like this—

Given Name— Shriraj Sukumaran
Last name—

International Visa rules do not allow the surname field to be left blank, so the officers would put your entire name in the surname column and mention FNU (First Name Unknown) in the given name section

When this happens, your visa will have your name like this. 

First name/Given name–FNU
Last name—Shriraj Sukumaran

However, when you initially applied on the university website, you might have given your name in the First-Name –Last Name format.  Something like this—

First Name—Shriraj
Last Name- Sukumaran

Basically there could be a discrepancy between name formats on your visa stamp and passport as well as your i-20.

Several students who have faced this issue, have done one of the following things:

  1. Before filling the DS-160, they changed their passport name to “Name- Last name” format so that it matches with the I-20.  


Given Name—Shriraj
Last Name- Sukumaran

They would avoid any future issues with documents in USA because i20 and passport name would be identical. (We would advise this only if you have enough time. If you need to book your visa dates immediately then you need your passport with you.)

  1.  Changed their I20 name –

Since last name is compulsory for visa, they asked the university to use ‘FNU’ everywhere in their First name on the I-20 and mention their full name in the surname column.  The I-20 name would then match their Visa and passport.   


First Name—FNU
Last name – Shriraj Sukumaran

(again, changing the details on i-20 would need you to contact your DSO and depending on their efficiency, it could take anywhere between 1-4 weeks. You need your i-20 to go for the visa interview, so plan accordingly)

  1. Did not make any changes in I-20 and passport name and decided to change the details later, after going to USA. You can change i-20 details at your college and passport details at the embassy in US.

If time permits, it is definitely advisable to work towards bringing about uniformity in the format of your name in these documents while you are in India. Your I-20 and passport are important documents and ensuring uniformity can save you a lot of hassles later on.

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