Criminal background checks for immigration

Whether you are a U.S. citizen filing a petition for your fiancé, spouse or child, an alien applying for a green card by adjustment of status (I-485) or U.S. citizenship (N-400), it is very important to reply accurately to questions about criminal history. If you have a criminal history (e.g. DUI arrests), the best way to do this is to first get and check certified copies of your criminal background reports about you including arrest, court proceedings, sentencing and confinement in a correctional institution, if any.

Criminal background checks on any person may include reports from

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) national criminal background checks,
  2. State and local law enforcement, and
  3. Foreign countries – in the case of an alien.

You can do criminal background checks in the United States at the national and state and local (county) levels. If the applicant has lived in the United States he/she should ask for a national criminal background check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and from the state(s) where he/she has lived.

The links for the FBI and State law enforcement are –

1. FBI Criminal background check 

2. State Identification Bureau Listing (State Law Enforcement)

From the list for State Identification Bureau Listing, simply google the name of the state agency followed by the words “criminal background check” e.g. if the applicant lived in Florida google “Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal background check.” The state agency may also have a list of private fingerprinting service providers whose equipment and ways comply with state and FBI standards. The applicant may also contact the local police agency or local sheriff office where he/she lives and explain that he/she wants fingerprints taken for a criminal background check. Undocumented persons  should seek legal advice and use a private fingerprinting agency and not a local police agency to do fingerprinting for criminal background checks.

If the applicant had an arrest or conviction in the United States he/she should contact the local law enforcement agency in the county where the arrest took place or the court that heard the matter and ask about obtaining an official police or court records (showing disposition of the case). Specifically ask for certified copies of:

1. arrest record;

2. criminal complaint;

3. indictment;

4. sentencing records; and

5. any record of confinement if you served time in any correctional institution.

You should still ask for your records even if you ‘did not do it’, it was only a minor offense, the charges were dismissed, you received a pardon, an amnesty or you were found not guilty.

If an applicant lived abroad he/she might want to get a police certificate from that country. Police certificates are not available for some countries. To find out if police certificates are available for a country, check here.

If you have specific questions about immigration background checks or how you should reply to a given question about criminal history consult an immigration attorney or a criminal defense attorney who can work with an immigration attorney to help your case.


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K1 Visa Petition and supporting documents

What is the K1 Visa Petition and how is it different from the K1 Visa Application?

The petition is the first step in the k1 visa process. A U.S. citizen petitioner must first file a K1 visa petition for her foreign fiancé, the beneficiary, at a USCIS office in the United States. The petitioner must complete and sign form I-129F providing USCIS information about her including her criminal history, if any. She will also provide information about her foreign fiancé and his child (ren), if any. The petitioner must send I-129F petition and supporting documents to USCIS. If the petitioner has not yet met her foreign fiancé she should plan her trip or their meeting with the supporting evidence in mind and gather the proper evidence of the relationship.

If USCIS approves the K1 visa petition of the U.S. citizen the beneficiary can then apply for a K1 visa at a U.S. consulate where he lives.

K1 visa petition – photo of a couple’s second meeting











Documents for a persuasive K1 visa petition

  1. Evidence of Petitioner’s U.S. Citizenship – front and back of U.S. Birth Certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship or Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Form FS-240 or all pages of a valid unexpired U.S. Passport.
  2. Copy of evidence that the petitioner and fiancé have met in the past two (2) years.
  3. Relationship letter – how the relationship started and developed and the circumstances of your face to face meeting within the last two (2) years.
  4. Petitioner’s Letter of Intent to Marry“Dear Sir/Madam, I [petitioner’s name], state that I am legally able and willing to marry [beneficiary’s name] and intend to do so within 90 days of her (his) arrival in the United States. Yours truly, Signature, Print Name and Date.
  5. Beneficiary’s Letter of Intent to Marry“Dear Sir/Madam, I [beneficiary’s name], state that I am legally able and willing to marry [petitioner’s  name] and intend to do so within 90 days of my arrival in the United States. Yours truly, Signature, Print Name and Date.”
  6. Divorce decree if either petitioner or beneficiary had earlier marriages.
  7. Form G-325A and passport-style photograph for petitioner. Print name lightly on back of photograph.
  8. Form G-325A and passport-style photograph for beneficiary. Print name lightly on back of photograph.
  9. If the petitioner has ever been convicted any of any crimes specified in Form I-129F Part C she must give certified copies of court and police records showing the charge and disposition (e.g. sentence, community service, probation, dismissal).The petitioner must do this even if her records are sealed or she was told that she no longer has a record.
  10. Evidence of an ongoing relationship. These include
    1. Affidavits of persons with personal knowledge of the relationship (e.g. parents of the petitioner or beneficiary)
    2. Photographs (dated) showing the couple together that tells the story of their relationship using pictures.
    3. Correspondence between the parties – copies of e-mails, letters, telephone bills to prove an ongoing relationship
    4. Receipts for engagement ring or major gift between the parties. An engagement ring is not required but it maybe more persuasive to prove that the relationship is genuine and that the couple intends to marry.
    5. Receipt of money transfers to or from fiancé, if any
    6. Receipts for hotel stays in both names
    7. Flight itinerary to met or visit fiancé – circle the dates. They must show that a meeting occurred within the last two (2) years of the petition date.
    8. Copies of boarding passes (save these)
    9. Passport entry and exist stamps for the country where your fiancé lives
    10. Documentation of wedding plans (invitations and receipt for deposit on a reception hall)
    11. Adoption record, court order, adoption record as evidence of any name change or use of multiple names. An explanation letter may also be proper where the use of different names by the same party could be confusing.

A petitioner must send I-129F filing fees and exact photocopies of unaltered documents. Any documents containing a foreign language are to be accompanied by a full English translation which the translator has certified as complete and correct.

Notice of Action

The USCIS will create an “A” file for the foreign fiancé once they receive the petition. A first Notice of Action is sent to the U.S. citizen acknowledging receipt. Then USCIS will next send a second Notice of Action indicating that it has approved the petition.

Approved K1 Petition sent to the U.S. consulate where the  fiancé can apply for a K1 visa

USCIS will send the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. The NVC will send it to the U.S. embassy or consulate where the fiancé will apply for a K-1 visa. An approved K1 visa petition is valid for four months from USCIS action. The k1 visa application by the fiancé can now begin.

If you want to know how to get a fiancé visa or have issues with a fiance visa for the United States commonly called the k 1 fiance visa please give my law firm a call at 1-888-747-1108 or contact us through the Contact Us form

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