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Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

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  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

How to Rehabilitate an FBI Background Check for 2nd Citizenship

Updated: Apr 30

By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Second citizenship applicants with a criminal record need their records in as good of a shape as possible

For Americans looking to pursue dual citizenship, the FBI background check (“IdHS”) is a critical document. It's requested by most foreign citizenship by investment and citizenship by descent (naturalization) programs. Those programs use the report to vet the applicant.  

There's a lot of confusion online about whether the FBI IdHS can be changed.

The answer is yes, it can be changed in some cases - it depends on the law of the state in which the person was arrested, charged or convicted. Most people with derogatory information on their FBI IdHS are dealing with state-arrests, charges, and convictions. 

Here's a general roadmap for how you "rehabilitate" your FBI background check when it's possible. 

Spoiler alert: It's not always possible. 

Step-by-Step Process

Step 1 - Request your FBI background check ("IdHS") & state-level background check to see what shows up related to a brush with the law, whether it be an arrest, charge, and/or conviction. 

Step 2 - If a criminal record shows up, get screened for post-conviction relief eligibility in the state of conviction. Post-conviction relief means expungement, expunction, dismissal, vacatur, pardon, clemency, etc. 

Step 3 - Get that post-conviction relief, if possible (it is not possible everywhere) in that state. This usually involves an application or petition with the court, and possibly a court hearing. 

Step 4 - Find out if under the law in the state of conviction, you're entitled to a record sealing that would remove the conviction from the state-level background check or just an update to your state-level criminal record check, reflecting the post-conviction relief. The latter is more commonly available. 

Step 5 - Challenge the state-level background check with the state-level criminal record repository, requesting the removal or the mere record update (i.e. a sentence added under the conviction that shows there was post-conviction relief of some sort). 

Step 6 - Request that the state-level repository also send a request to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division (“CJIS”) to update your FBI IdHS. Note: The FBI CJIS, which houses the FBI background check, defers to the state-level repository for updates or changes to criminal information on the FBI IdHS. This is a critical point. 

Step 7 - Order another FBI IdHS for yourself to check if the changes were made. 

Step 8 - If all goes well, voilá, you'll end up with an FBI IdHS with the criminal information removed (if you were entitled to record sealing) or updated with a line to reflect the post-conviction relief. 

Sample FBI background check that is clean as a whistle

Disclosure of Updated Information 

Going through this process to get your FBI background check updated can be a multi-step, challenging process. But it can sometimes mean the difference between getting a second citizenship or not. 

Note: just getting the FBI IdHS changed doesn't necessarily mean you're absolved from the duty to report the conviction and/or arrest in your 2nd citizenship application. That depends on the program you're applying to. 

Go through the necessary steps, be forthright and do everything above board.

Consult with Malakouti Law 

To get properly screened and find out which second citizenship program is right for you, request a consultation with Malakouti Law here. 

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. 

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