Arabic Name Spelling Consistency

Ahmed Gamdi
Ahmad Al Gamdi
Ahmet Gamdi
Ahmed Al-gamdi
– are they all the same person? Well… maybe.

This is not usually a problem most American students face when applying to college – but is a common problem for most people whose mother tongue is not English.

petersontoeflskyscraperTransliteration of a non-English name, specifically those written in non-latin based languages, creates headaches for governments, colleges and universities, and for the students. Something as simple as a hyphen can create serious problems for a student leading to rejected paperwork, non-issuance of a visa, and difficulties in opening bank accounts.

So before you even begin your college application, choose a spelling of your name and stick with it, whether you are going to use

Al Hameed
Al Hamid
El Hamid

choose ONE spelling, make SURE you are consistent throughout your official and non-official documentation including:

  • Passport
  • U.S. Visa application
  • Drivers License (both your national and international licenses)
  • School documents, transcripts, letters of recommendation, scholarships, and standardized test results
  • Proof of financial ability to pay (if this is in your parent’s name, make sure their last name is spelled the same as yours)

Most American colleges and universities will be willing to work with you if some of your documentation uses different spellings of your name. However, the US Embassy will NOT be as lenient, you will need to make sure all your paperwork is consistent to ensure your visa will be issued quickly.  Be certain to use the same spelling in the I-94 document that you will fill out on your initial entry to the US as well.

The name spelling consistency is not the only name related issue international students face. Students from countries that use patronymic and matronymic last names such as Spain, Portugal and Brazil face a number of difficulties as well as students from countries where no family name is used.

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