top of page
Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

(323) 306-4548

(888) 728-9080

  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Emigrating from the U.S. With a Criminal Record

By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Americans with a criminal record face extra hurdles in obtaining second citizenship

Where To Start? 

If you're an American pursuing second citizenship with a criminal record, your starting point in seeing what shows "on your record" is usually your FBI background check (i.e. "Identity History Summary"). You can obtain it for yourself, fairly easily. One of our FBI background check guides can be found here.

The vast majority of foreign countries (like St. Kitts CBI, Slovak CBD, or Paraguayan temporary residence) request for this report, if any, when adjudicating a residency or citizenship application. If you have any criminal record, understand that what shows on your FBI report is very often incomplete or inaccurate. Also, being expunged, dismissed, vacated, expuncted etc. (post-conviction relief) by the court does not necessarily mean the criminal record data will be removed from your FBI report.

How Do Updates Work? 

The most important thing to understand is that the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) refers to the STATE-LEVEL repository (such as the California Department of Justice) for the state in which the conviction was committed (such as California) to determine whether and to what extent the FBI report can be amended after someone gets post-conviction relief. The state-level repository, in turn, depends on state law (e.g. California law) for determining whether and to what extent they'll update your state-level background check.

We have a guide on how this process works here

So a post-conviction "dismissal" in one state may allow you to get the item wiped from your FBI report, whereas in another state, you may only be entitled to a line being added on your FBI report under the criminal record that says "dismissed…” and in another state, you may not be entitled to ANY change in your FBI report. The analysis is highly state specific, because, again, the FBI CJIS defers to the state-level repository, which in turn depends on the state-level law treatment of the post-conviction relief.

What appears on your “background check” depends on who’s running it, for what purpose, and under what law

Also, although these updates are supposed to happen automatically on your FBI report in many scenarios, very oftentimes they do not. In that case, one has to go through an administrative process to "challenge" the state-level report with the state-level repository and then request or demand that the state-level repository communicate the update to the FBI CJIS.

Once you have your FBI background check updated, that’s just the start. You’ll likely have to get screened for eligibility for the particular CBI or CBD program, and hire a professional who can possibly employ additional strategies for Americans with a criminal record.

Request a Consultation with Malakouti Law

At Malakouti Law, we assist Americans with a criminal record explore citizenship by investment or descent.

Click here to request a consultation.

bottom of page