5 Mistakes to Avoid When Getting Your FBI Background Check
Updated: Sep 20
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
You'll want to avoid having to strike this pose after making a failed FBI background check application
If you're an American applying for 2nd citizenship elsewhere, you may have to get your FBI background check (i.e. "identity history summary") to submit with your application.
This is the case for citizenship by a) investment, b) descent, or even c) "normal" naturalization after a period of residency. In fact, in many of those countries, you’ll also have to get your FBI background check apostilled.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may need the background check in a hurry.
In my citizenship and immigration practice, I've dealt with dozens, and perhaps even over 100 people who've ordered their own background check and apostille.
Here are the top 5 mistakes in getting an FBI background check and apostille that I see which delays them in becoming a dual (or triple) citizen.
Related: The 6 Ways to Get Second Citizenship
#1 Sending in poor fingerprints
For mailed-in FBI IdHS requests, you must send in a fingerprint card (FD-1164) containing your fingerprints.
People mail in incomplete fingerprint cards, smudged fingerprints, light fingerprints, etc, which leads to the FBI CJIS to reject the form, placing you back on square one.
Follow the instructions on the FD-1164 carefully, and don’t be afraid to start with a new fingerprint card if you make a messy print.
#2 Sending in the wrong payment amount or incomplete
credit card form
People send in the wrong payment amount or they incompletely fill out the credit card form I-786 (if paying by credit card).
With form instructions, remember the old adage: “Read twice, write once.”
#3 Wrong Payment Information for Apostille
When sending the FBI background check for apostille, people often mistakenly include one apostille payment, even when they need multiple apostilles.
The rule here is simple. You must pay a separate apostille fee (currently $20) for each apostille request (on form DS-4194) you make.
Failing to do this can result in the U.S. office of authentications either rejecting the apostille request or only sending back one apostille instead of multiple apostilles.
#4 Mistakenly Waiting for Hard Copy
For FBI background checks made at USPS, people often mistakenly wait for the HARD copy to be mailed to them. This is because when you get your FBI background check at the U.S. post office (my preferred method), you get the results emailed to you in PDF as well as a hard copy mailed to you.
The emailed PDF usually comes the same day, sometimes within an hour. The hard copy comes days, or sometimes even a week later.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to wait for the hard copy. You can print and send off the PDF for apostille to the U.S. office of authentications.
The U.S. Office of Authentications will apostille the printed PDF.
#5 Not sending a return addressed envelope with the
FBI background check APOSTILLE request
When you send an FBI background check to the U.S. office of authentications, you must include a self-addressed envelope with postage on it.
I’ve seen and spoken to people who unfortunately didn’t include a self-addressed envelope with their apostille request, thus resulting in a rejection of the apostille request.
Pro tip: The U.S. office of authentications processes apostille requests shipped with a tracking number (a little bit) faster than requests sent by regular mail (like with a stamp).
Request a Consultation with Malakouti Law
If you’re researching FBI background checks because you are an American interested in second citizenship, Malakouti Law can help.
We are experts in helping Americans pursue second citizenship. Click here to request a consultation.
Click here to read more about FBI background checks.
Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.