While traveling the world as a remote worker, you may have discovered and fallen in love with a country that offers a digital nomad visa. While gathering documents to submit your application, you realized you need to get an FBI background check from abroad.
This can cause a lot of stress and confusion, especially for those US citizens who are taking advantage of tourist visas and living the nomadic lifestyle. Fortunately, two reliable methods exist to get an FBI background check from abroad to submit with your digital nomad visa application.
While not all digital nomad visas require applicants to submit a criminal background check, the majority of them will ask for official and certified documentation of your clean criminal record.
In this article, we will dive into how to get an FBI background check from abroad, why you may need it, and how to get an apostille.
What is an FBI Background Check?
An FBI background check is an official record of your criminal history. The document will report any public misdemeanors or federal offenses that you were arrested or tried for.
If you do not have a criminal record, the report will state that there is no record of arrests or convictions.
Can You Get an FBI Background Check from Abroad?
Yes, you can get an FBI background check from abroad.
This can prove to take a little longer than if you were in the United States, but it is definitely possible.
Why Would You Need an FBI Background Check While Abroad?
Most people abroad need an FBI background check for visa applications. In the case of traveling remote workers, they may not have a home base in their country of residence and are applying for a visa while on the road.
So, they would need to obtain an FBI background check from abroad to include with their visa applications.
Someone may require a US criminal record check from abroad while applying for certain jobs. This is especially true for teachers teaching English abroad.
How to Get an FBI Background Check from Abroad
There are two reliable methods to obtain your FBI criminal background check from abroad: online and by mail.
The easiest way to obtain an FBI criminal background check from abroad is through the online portal.
You will complete the Applicant Information Form online and download form FD-258 to record your fingerprints yourself. The fee may be paid via credit card, Amazon services, or PayPal right online. Make sure to keep this receipt.
If you decide to take your fingerprints yourself or at the local police station, you must mail the form FD-258 to the following address:
FBI CJIS Division
ATTN: ELECTRONIC SUMMARY REQUEST
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
It will take three to five business days from when your fingerprints are received to obtain your FBI criminal background check online via email.
If you are already residing abroad, you can request your FBI criminal background check via mail.
To take your fingerprints, you may visit a local police station that can do it for you. Make sure to put them on the FD-1164 form and read the instructions carefully.
There is an $18 fee to retrieve your FBI criminal background check for digital nomad visa applications. This can be paid via credit card or money order.
If paying by credit card, you must fill out the Credit Card Payment Form and include it with your other forms.
You can mail all of your forms and payment method to the following address:
FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
You will receive your report via first-class US Postal Service mail within three to five weeks, depending on where you live. There may also be an international shipping fee to receive the documents.
How to Submit Fingerprints from Abroad
While requesting your FBI background check from abroad, you must submit a set of your fingerprints. This can prove to be difficult while in another country.
Fortunately, there are two ways you can take your fingerprints to mail them to the FBI.
You can find a local police station or fingerprinting service where you are abroad or do them yourself.
Once you have taken your fingerprints, you must send them to the FBI in the United States.
Local Police Station
In some countries, the local police stations can take your biometric fingerprints on a fingerprint card using black ink.
You can simply go in and request that they take your fingerprints for the FBI background check.
However, not every police station abroad does this, so it’s important to check with local residents and authorities.
In some cases, there may be notaries or other businesses that can take your fingerprints for you.
In some cases, you can take your own fingerprints. You can request an FBI fingerprint card and buy your own black ink.
It’s crucial that you take your fingerprints correctly and without smudges. If your fingerprints are not readable, the FBI cannot process your background check request.
How Much Does an FBI Background Check from Abroad Cost?
It costs $18 to obtain your FBI background check both online and by mail.
However, when you request it from abroad, you will have to pay international shipping charges when you send your fingerprints and other necessary forms to the FBI office. This cost can vary depending on where you are located and delivery service.
How Long Does It Take to Get an FBI Background Check from Abroad?
When you request your FBI background check online, it can take three to five days after the FBI receives your fingerprints to get your record.
By mail, it can take three to five weeks or even longer depending on the mail service and where you are located.
If you are planning to apply for a digital nomad visa that requires a US criminal background check while abroad, the earlier you can start the process the better.
How Long is an FBI Background Check Valid?
There is no validity term of an FBI background check. However, the government or organization you are submitting the criminal background check to may determine that it must not be older than a certain amount of time.
For example, some digital nomad visas require background checks that are not older than six months.
How to Get Your FBI Background Check Apostilled While Abroad
Before submitting your FBI background check for your visa application, it must be certified or have an apostille.
Normally, you would send the document to the US government to have a stamp and seal placed on it to verify its authenticity in other countries.
While abroad, there are two options to get an apostille on a criminal background check.
US Embassy or Consulate
Most United States embassies and consulates have apostille services, depending on where you are located.
You will have to make an appointment in most cases, bring your documents, and some form of identification to receive an apostille. There is usually a fee, around $16, that you must pay for the apostille.
Fast Track Apostille Services
If you need to get an apostille in three or four days, then you may want to consider a private apostille service, like Apostille USA.
In just a matter of days, you can get your documents apostilled from abroad and ready to submit with your visa application.
Find Out Which Documents You Need to Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa
Does settling down in a foreign country for a year or two sound exciting to you as a remote worker?
With over 30 digital nomad visas available worldwide, you can make yourself a home in a new foreign country and bring your family with you.
Applying for visas and relocating to a foreign country can be quite intimidating and frustrating, though.
That’s where Nomads Embassy: The World’s First Embassy for Digital Nomads can help!
We’ve partnered with hand-selected local immigration lawyers from around the world to assist our members with their digital nomad visa applications and relocation abroad.
With our Done-for-You Digital Nomad Visa service, you just have to gather your documents, attend any necessary appointments, and we’ll do the rest!
Find out which digital nomad visas you’re eligible for apply for today – request your free eligibility check today!