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I am a French citizen, US permanent resident, California resident, and currently located in California, US. I am applying for a visa: the visa application requires a letter of verification stating that the applicant has no criminal record. In my case, the embassy of the country I am applying the visa for is telling me that they accept the following two options to obtain the US record clearance letter:

  1. From the FBI
  2. From the State Department (a.k.a. United States Department of State)

I know how to do it for the FBI, but I couldn't find information on how to get such a letter directly from the United States Department of State.

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  • Is it a English speaking developed country? Maybe they are not referring to the Department of State, but the department of a state (e.g. California) ? – xngtng Feb 20 at 22:07
  • @zhantongz thanks, no I called the embassy and explicitly said the United States department of state in DC – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 20 at 22:10
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    I just read your other answer. Tbh if they said "a state", I think the most likely explanation is incompetence/misinterpretation of their own documents, I've seen this happen at banks where the teller refuses to accept valid documents on their own list because he thought the specific type of ID is only issued federally; otherwise a remote possibility might be a state document authenticated/apostilled by the DOS, or more remotely a letter specifically for diplomats. But after all if it's actually the visa section told you this the only course is to follow what they say. – xngtng Feb 21 at 9:38
  • @zhantongz yes I agree, you might be correct. My plan was simply to collect all possible letters of clearance so that whoever reviews my visa application can satisfy their own pleasure. – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 21 at 9:41
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a) I spent some time looking for this today, with no success. In a lot of years reading about travel and documentation and visas, I've never read of the DoS issuing such certificates. No one else has chimed in with a portal or reporting prior success in obtaining such affirmation from the State Department.

While it's not logically possible to prove a negative, the lack of any positive evidence, along with a plausible explanation (see below), convinces me that the State Department does not issue them.

b) Another country's consular staff thinks the US State Department does issue such documents. This isn't surprising. The central government of some or many other countries does indeed issue such documents. If you're from one of those countries, it's reasonable to assume that every country does. I'm sure whoever on the consular staff said the DoS does issue such certificates will be unable to point you at exactly how one applies. The FBI is close (central government), but no cigar (Dept of Justice, not the Dept of State).

TL;DR: The US Department of State doesn't issue such verifications or certificates.

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  • Thanks for the information! "I'm sure whoever on the consular staff said the DoS does issue such certificates will be unable to point you at exactly how one applies". I was told by the embassy to "search on Google" and that getting a certificate could take "a long time" :-/ I am increasingly suspecting that indeed they only receive certificates from the FBI and never from the state department. – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 21 at 4:43
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    @FranckDernoncourt This reminds me of Fermi's Paradox. – DavidSupportsMonica Feb 21 at 4:47
  • Yes though at that point I believe that the existence of alien intelligent life is more likely than the state department issuing clearance certificates. – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 21 at 4:51
  • It is doubful that any Foreign Office in the world maintains the criminal records of its residents. For the US, the responsible Federal or State authority maintains these records and that is presumably what was meant. Any Embassy (which is part of a 'Foreign Office') will know this. – Mark Johnson Feb 21 at 14:39

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