If you have made it to this point of our adventure, you haven't read anything yet. The bane of our Visa existence has been getting documents apostilled! On the Visa checklist, you will find that you need to get a few documents apostilled by the Apostille of the Hague, which is basically a more expensive and pain in the butt notary. Side note, am I the only one that took forever to remember how to spell this damn word? Not to mention pronouncing it as the apostle has gotten me a few strange looks.
Background checks: DOJ or Federal: This will be required for anyone 18+
Marriage Certificate: needed if you are applying with a spouse
Birth Certificate of child: 17 and younger, if applying with a child.
Before I describe these in more detail, I forgot to mention the Spanish translations that are needed. The apostille does not translate. What you are required to do is get a Sworn Spanish Translator to translate any documents that are not in Spanish into Spanish. The immigration firm we are using has a pre-approved translator that they are using. The idea is to get all the items you need to be translated, including forms, etc., find a translator, provide them the entire packet and pay to have them translated. Here is the site provided on the Los Angeles consulate page http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/LOSANGELES/es/InformacionParaExtranjeros/Documents/Traductores_jurado_Ingles_Espanol_2019.pdf#page=17
The price range really varies, so you will have to call to find that out. It's important to note that if you speak Spanish or have someone translate well enough to fill out the forms in Spanish, you do not need to pay for translation services because they are already in Spanish. For the most part, everything but the items that need to be apostilled, you could probably obtain in Spanish. For instance, the health insurance you have to pay for (will review later), my immigration lawyer is having me sign up with a company that has their paperwork in Spanish so I will not have to pay for a translation. The forms on the consulate website are already in Spanish, we didn't need to have ours translated to English, so we could fill them out correctly because our lawyer filled them out for us in Spanish.
So now on to our story, which will cover both the DOJ background check and the FBI check because we did both ughghg. We last left our heroes; they had just confirmed passport processing and received their medical forms signed. We needed to start on the apostille process because we heard that it might take a while. One of the first issues we encountered was that we did not have our son's birth certificate to get apostilled because it was being processed with the passports. We decide to wait and hope the paperwork is returned sooner than later and start working on the background checks.
The two options are State level -DOJ or Federal level. If you have stayed in the same state for the last 5 years, the DOJ check will work. They only pull records from the State you are living in. If you move to different states frequently, The FBI might be better because the Consulate requires a background check covering every state you have lived in for the last 5 years. We came out to find that the FBI apostille is backlogged, so you might want to go state level regardless (I will get into that fun surprise later). At this point, I somehow thought my husband hadn't lived in California that long so we went with the FBI. Here are the steps
https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks Here they walk through the different options, but the easiest we found was requesting it through their online portal
This site above will allow you to pay the FBI to process the fingerprints, which will run $18 a person, as well as set you up with finding a post office, etc.
Next, you need to find a Live Scan office https://www.edo.cjis.gov/#/org/USPS and be fingerprinted. If you find that the post office selected for your area is too far away, you can choose to go the mailing route and submit it through any Live Scan, no post office necessary, in your area. We applied online because it was the fastest, but our nearest Live Scan Post Office was about 1 hour away. We made the drive.
Complete the application to provide to the Live Scan person https://forms.fbi.gov/identity-history-summary-checks-review
Pay for the Live Scan. I believe it was $50 per me and my husband. They electronically send your fingerprints to the FBI pretty much instantly. By the time we got home, I had already received our emailed response. The FBI will then send you an original copy through the mail overnight. For some people, this may take longer if their arrest record is complicated. Again if you are going the paper route, they will mail in your fingerprints.
So we receive our results a few days later, and I, of course, have a spotless record; my husband, on the other hand, had a lot of fun when he was 19. Here's the great part about the FBI check you don't get to ask just for the last 5 years they send any record of arrest that you have ever had, going back to age 18. It didn't look great, but technically there was nothing in the last 5 years, so we go with it. During all of this, which took about a week total, we had still not received our passports which means no birth certificate. It was off to get the birth certificate, and boy was it! Please tune in for our next episode, where this killer cliffhanger will be resolved in bum bum bum Apostille Of The What 2: Labyrinth.
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