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Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

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  • Writer's pictureParviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

The Top 5 Misconceptions About the FBI Background Check for 2nd Citizenship 

Updated: Apr 21

By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.

Don't get sidetracked in your path to 2nd citizenship by messing up the FBI background check & apostille process

For American citizens, nearly all paths to second citizenship run through the FBI background check aka “identity history summary, or “IDHS” for short.

That’s because most naturalization programs outside of the U.S., whether by investment or descent require a background check from your country of citizenship. For Americans, this report is usually the FBI identity history summary. 

Being a global mobility attorney, I've personally ordered dozens of them. I’ve also seen people in the hundreds of comments between my youtube videos on how to get an FBI background check and apostille express these misconceptions. 

Here are the 5 biggest misconceptions I see from Americans getting an FBI background check for a second citizenship application. Read up and avoid getting sidetracked! 

Note: if you don't know anything about how to get the FBI background check, start by reading our ultimate guide here then come back to this article.

Myth Number 1 - PDF Printed FBI Background Check Isn’t Acceptable 

The Myth: A PDF copy of the FBI background check printed from your computer can’t be sent for an apostille.

The Reality: The PDF copy you are emailed access (if you get fingerprinted at a qualified USPS office) to you is official and can indeed be sent for an apostille request. 

When you get fingerprinted at a USPS office, you are both emailed access to your FBI report and sent a hard copy which arrives a week or so later. You do not have to wait for the hard copy to arrive. You can download the FBI background check PDF, print it and either use it or send it for apostille if necessary. 

Myth Number 2: The FBI Background Check Needs

a Notarization 

Confusing and misleading screenshot from U.S. Office of Authentication's website - This is not true for FBI background checks!

The Myth: A notarization of the FBI background check is required to get an apostille

The Reality: You don't need to get your FBI background check notarized before getting an apostille. 

The U.S. office of authentications is entirely responsible for this misunderstanding because their website suggests a notarization is required for FBI background checks. 

A notarization is not required. If you’re not entirely convinced, click here to read more. 

Myth Number 3 - FBI Background Checks Have All U.S. Criminal Information of a Person

The Myth: FBI background checks are always COMPLETE, meaning they have all arrest, charge, conviction, and expungement information for a given person. 

The Reality: Many FBI background checks have INCOMPLETE information. An example would be a report that has just the arrest and charge but not the conviction. Another example would be a report that has the conviction information but not a subsequent dismissal (for example by expungement). 

In fact, incomplete FBI background checks are so prevalent that one of the services we offer at Malakouti Law is helping people complete and/or update their incomplete FBI background checks in advance of a citizenship application. Click here to book a consultation with Malakouti Law to discuss your situation. 

Myth Number 4 - FBI Background Checks Only Contain U.S. Source Criminal Information

The Myth: FBI background checks can ONLY contain information on arrests, charges, and convictions from U.S. states, U.S. federal law enforcement and other sovereignties within the borders of the U.S.

The Reality: The FBI shares information with many other countries and some FBI background checks can reflect information regarding an arrest, charge or conviction in a foreign country. 

Which European country's conviction showed up on my client's FBI background check? Nobody knows! (Except me)

By way of example, about one year ago, at Malakouti Law, we had our first client with an FBI background check reflecting an arrest, two charges and two convictions in a European country. Since then, we’ve had one more client with an FBI background check reflecting foreign convictions. 

Myth Number 5 - You Cannot Take Your Own Fingerprints to Request an FBI Background Check

The Myth: You must go to a USPS office, licensed livescan location, police station, embassy or other formal office to get your fingerprints taken for an FBI background check

The Reality: You can buy an ink pad and download a fingerprint form pdf (FD-258) off the internet and take your own fingerprints. It's much cheaper, but also messier to do this. Also, if you are requesting your FBI background check from outside of the United States, 

This how-to article shows you how to get an FBI background check on your own whether you’re inside or outside of the United States. 

Consult with Malakouti Law 

If you’re at the beginning of your journey of considering pursuing dual citizenship, book a consultation with us at Malakouti Law. 

We are experts in screening your situation and telling you all your options to maximize your freedom of movement. When you become our client, we guide you through everything, including 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. 

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