How to Get an FBI Background Check When You’re Abroad
Updated: Nov 20
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
If you’ve ever lived in the United States for more than a few months, and you’re applying for a foreign visa, residency or citizenship, you’ll likely have to get an FBI background check (“identity history summary.”)
If you’re currently inside the United States, there are three ways of getting the report, however if you’re outside of the United States, your options may be narrowed to just one - requesting your FBI background check by mail.
A person can request their FBI background check by mail, using the Identity History Summary Request form (FD-1164) and Identity History Summary Request Form (Form I-783). Both forms are required. Your fingerprints go on the FD-1163 and you use the I-783 as the actual application.
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (i.e. “green card” holder) to make this request by mail.
[Picture of FD-1164 - page 1]
[Picture of FD-1164 - page 2]
Requesting your FBI background check by mail is the messiest, least convenient and slowest way of getting the document, but if you’re outside the U.S., it’s likely your only choice. If you’re inside the United States, I recommend using a designated USPs office or livescan channeler.
Step by Step Instructions for Mailed Request
First, you download and print the forms FD-1164 and form-I-783.
Second, follow the instructions carefully to properly render your fingerprints on the FD-1164, and properly fill out the I-783. Make sure to sign both forms.
Third, include $18 payment per the instructions given on the I-783.
[Picture of I-783]
Fourth, mail the request to FBI CJIS Division, per the instructions on the I-783. You’ll need to use a return address that’s inside the United States.
The carpenter’s old adage is “measure twice, cut once.” For this FBI request, be sure to follow the old advocate’s adage: “read twice, apply once.”
Do You Also Need an Apostille?
Many countries that request an FBI background check from you, also require it to be apostilled. By example, such countries include Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, and Slovakia. An apostille is a higher level of authentication of an official document and it requires additional steps once you’ve received your FBI background check.
(Apostille of FBI Background Check)
You’ll need to check with the agency requesting your FBI background check to see if it must also be apostilled. If an apostille is required, you can click here to find easy step-by-step instructions on how to get it done.
Consult with a Professional
As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, so if you want to plan out the next immigration and citizenship steps for yourself and your family, you don’t have to guess.
Book a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer who can answer your questions, including those you don’t even know you have.
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. Each immigration case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps.