Caution: Check Your FBI Fingerprint Record Before Applying for Citizenship or a Green Card

fingerprintYour Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI fingerprint record contains information about your criminal history (if any).  Additionally, it may also include documented immigration violations.

When to Obtain Your FBI Fingerprint Record

Obtaining this record is critical if you are considering applying for certain immigration benefits in the United States, such as

  1. Applying for adjustment of status to permanent resident (green card)
  2. Removal of conditions on permanent residence
  3. Renewal of the permanent resident card (green card)
  4. Naturalization application for U.S. citizenship

Why Should I Obtain My FBI Fingerprint Record?

When the government reviews your application/petition, you will be subject to a background investigation. If you have committed certain offenses in the past, the government may determine that you are ineligible for the immigrant benefit for which you are applying and deny the application.

However, depending on the seriousness and/or number of offenses, you may also be subject to deportation/removal proceedings. Some crimes that should be analyzed for their potential immigration consequences include the following:

  1. Theft offenses
  2. Drugs/controlled substances
  3. Firearms and other deadly weapons
  4. Crimes of violence
  5. Domestic violence
  6. Offenses against minors
  7. “Crimes involving moral turpitude” (a legal term of art)
  8. Certain convictions/pleas which could have had a possible sentence of more than 1 year (even if the sentence was less)
  9. Multiple convictions of certain types of crimes
  10. Traffic violations involving an arrest (including certain DUIs)

Prior criminal violations may be problematic even if you only had probation, pled guilty and paid a fine, entered into a diversionary program or alternative sentence to avoid jail, and even if the conviction was expunged. You will want to know what is contained in your FBI fingerprint record because this is the same information the government will review when considering your application. Knowing in advance exactly what the government will “uncover” about you allows you to:

  1. Reconsider applying for a certain benefit based on the offenses you may have committed
  2. Prepare explanations regarding certain offenses you may have committed
  3. Correct and/or explain any incorrect information about your criminal history.

Need Additional Help?

The Law Office of Tanya M. Lee, PLLC can help you obtain your FBI fingerprint record for a nominal fee. Furthermore, once your FBI fingerprint record is available, you can consult with our firm for an analysis of the results – specifically, how any prior crimes listed in your FBI fingerprint record might impact your immigration application and future immigration goals.

To determine whether naturalization is the right option for you at this time, complete this contact form, or contact The Law Office of Tanya M. Lee, PLLC for a consultation at tlee@aboutusvisas.com or (480) 559-9529. For assistance in Spanish please contact 623-349-1351 or espanol@aboutusvisas.com.


Many people choose to submit the N-400 naturalization application on their own – often to minimize the overall cost of the naturalization process. To support “Do-It-Yourself” applicants, the Law Office of Tanya M. Lee offers a one-hour maximum legal strategy session to educate you on the eligibility requirements, application process and fees, required forms and supporting documents, potential red flag issues, and mistakes to avoid when filing the N-400 naturalization application. See below for a resource video that can help you prepare for the naturalization test/interview.