Apostille and document preparation for US GV investors

I agree. If someone sends the FBI clearance to their state and waited a week or a month just to get a denied letter back, it’s really unfortunate especially when there’s a 3 month shelf life for the FBI clearance.

It’s impossible to know exactly how the conversation went. I can imagine if someone asks a Portuguese lawyer, “Would SEF accept state-issued apostille for the FBI clearance instead of the one from the U.S. Department of state?” The lawyer would likely say yes to these types of question because it has an assumption that it could be done by state authorities. And also because the lawyers have seen other documents come through with apostilles from state authorities.

Due to the extension of the GV programme, I have lowered priority on researching an agency in India.

I was planning to reach out to the following firm at a later date. if you contact them, please post your experience with them.



Hi Ravi-

Below is the link of the firm in India. I am planning to reach out to them at a later date. if you contact them, please post your experience with them.



Thanks Amit. There’s one more agency which I found for apostille, nduniversal.com and superbapostille.com

Thanks Niraj!

Once the document is apostilled, is there a validity period for the same? I have read that the document must be apostilled in last three months, but it does not make sense to me. I think once apostilled, it is valid forever unless there is an expiration date itself on the apostille sticker.

So have I’m read…l but I wonder why would anyone need that kind of time? You will apostille docs only when u need them…

@amitporto @Niraj The apostille is not the issue. It’s the criminal records that cannot be older than 3 months prior to the application submission.

Thanks @wkb, that makes sense. If i have marriage and birth certificates apostilled 5 years ago, I presume that I am able to use the same today. Those are static events that do not change.

with the criminal records, it makes sense.

Oh ok… thnx

You mention that your FBI report and apostille took 3 months (July 19 to October 19). Naturally, because of transit and handling times your report was more than 3 months old when it was received by SEF. Did SEF or your lawyers indicate any issue with this being more than 3 months old? Based on your sitation SEF perhaps has some flexibility in this deadline? Can you elaborate on this?

SEF was flexible on the three month requirement. Mine was over 6 months old when it was approved. They are requiring that I redo the FBI background and apostille when I come in for the biometrics. I brought up the three months with my lawyer and she said the leniency would continue. I am just never as I would like to get it done sooner than later and this would force me to make an appointment at least 3 months out to account for the delay in the apostille.

Can anyone provide some insight as to the timing from submission of all materials to the SEF and to the next step in the process? I’m hearing it’s more than a year. Is that right?

Normally it is a matter of months. Currently? Who knows. We are going on 2 months so far and no word yet.
We have budgeted a year for the process for submission to actually getting our first visa.

A couple people shared their timeline here.

Okay I spoke with the attorney again today and asked for clarification. After she looked more closely at the document she found that FBI background check was first notarized and that it was the notarization that was apostilled, by the state of California. The notary certified that the copy of the FBI background check was authentic (I presume the client presented the physical/mailed version of the FBI clearance check alongside the copy to the Notary). She confirmed that the client had received pre-approval.

I’m not telling you that this is what you or anyone else should do. I simply passing on information which I believe to be true for you to do what you wish. Personally, I will probably do this as a backup option while also having the FBI background check apostilled by the Dept of State.

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That makes more sense. It’s actually illegal to do it that way in most states and as a technicality the notary could lose their notary seal, but to each their own.

Here is some more information about that:
While copy certifications are considered a common notarial act, nearly half of the U.S. states bar Notaries from performing this type of notarization. Make sure to check your state’s guidelines to see if you may certify copies.

Many states also forbid the copy certification of vital, public documents, such as birth, death or marriage certificates. Certified copies of these documents typically must be obtained from the agency that holds the originals.

You might check the other posts here. According to one person SEF didnt care about stale dated documents in their case.

@loheiman Thanks for the clarification. That’s a very interesting work around.

So, notary’s job is to witness the signing of documents and verify the person signing the document, correct? So, what document did the notary actually notarized, though? Because there is no place for a signature anywhere on the FBI report itself. So, maybe the person wrote an affidavit or a sworn statement saying that the FBI report is authentic then have that affidavit notarized? If that’s the case, then the notary is not really certifying the FBI report, but certifying the affidavit. So, that maybe is acceptable to SEF or maybe they just see the Hague Apostille and not question it.

Agreed, not really sure what exactly was notarized. Will try to learn more.

@wkb I think this approach is great as long as the person doing it knows what they are getting themselves into. As a last resort it may not be a bad idea to give it a try. FYI. I asked a few months ago and my PT lawyer said this method was not permissible.

Under California law, a notary cannot certify a document in this manner. So basically what you have to do is sign the document and swear that it is original and the contents are true. ( jurat). The notary would then notarize the document verifying that your signature is genuine. The secretary of state can then apostille the notary seal.

In effect what you are doing is self-certifying the FBI report. This is clearly not what SEF wants. Will they accept it? It sounds like in at least one case they did. It may depend on whether your SEF interviewer is having a bad day or not.

If SEF does allow this, then it will make things easier on everyone. But realize that they would have to effectively allow the same approach for marriage license, birth certificate, etc. So, it undermines the entire authentication process for the GV. That is why I have been skeptical of this. Maybe they are being more lenient now and it would be great to get a written policy guidance from SEF about this. Until then, caveat emptor.


@mmtravelguy I totally agree with everything you said. I also think when dealing with a bureaucratic culture, it’s best to do things by the book.

@loheiman It seems like people in this thread have been able to get their apostilles back in time when they use a service even though those companies mail the requests in like everyone else. Maybe a big box of requests doesn’t get lost in a pile at the department of state compare to an envelope mailed in by an individual…