Free Citizenship Workshop in San Francisco on Saturday, February 3, 2018

The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative (SFPCI) is offering this free assistance for Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) who want to become U.S. citizens and need help preparing the naturalization (citizenship) application. Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018. Place: City College of San Francisco. For more info, go to



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Why Can’t California Notaries Public Notarize USCIS I-9 Forms?


Why Can’t California Notaries Public Notarize USCIS I-9 Forms?

Restrictions and Limitations for California Notaries Public in Regards to Notarizing USCIS I-9 Forms.

The short answer for the above question is because the form I-9 is an immigration-related document that companies use for the purpose of verifying employee’s authorization to legally work in the United States. According to the National Notary Association, the California Secretary of State office does not allow notaries from the state to complete any immigration application unless those notaries are also qualified and bonded immigration consultants (Government Code Section 8223(c)).

For additional information, read this useful blog post from the National Notary Association:

I-9 Forms: What Notaries Need To Know

Also the American Society of Notaries has an article related to this issue:

I-9 Form: Notaries Beware!

FNL provides notarial services but does not provide signings or notarizations for I-9 forms.

If you or your company needs the I-9 form signed in California, it would be advisable to consult with an attorney or a qualified and bonded immigration consultant.

This post, as other posts on this blog, is for information and entertaining purposes only. Do not take this post as legal advice. If you have a legal question, you should always consult with an attorney or legal organization. 


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Obtaining Your Own Criminal Background Check or Proof of Good Behavior in California


Obtaining Your Own Criminal Background Check or Proof of Good Behavior in California

Also known as Criminal Records / Proof (Letter) of Good Behavior, Criminal Background Check, Rap Sheet, Criminal Report, Criminal History Record Information, FBI report.

(Updated on May 18, 2015)

I. What is the purpose?

People don’t look for their own criminal records or proof that they haven't committed any crime just because they feel like it. Most of the time, they have a purpose for doing a ciminal background check. The most common purposes for obtaining this kind of evidence are:

a.       Personal Review.

Individuals looking to obtain their own criminal records so they can take action in cleaning their records or clearing bad records associated to them by mistake. 

b.      By Advice of an Attorney.

Some attorneys ask their clients or potential clients to get their own criminal records in order to best represent them.

c.       By Request of an Authorized Third Party (Private or public agency, entity, organization, employer, etc).

Certain applications for jobs, professional licenses, certifications, adoption processes, to name name a few require an individual to go through the process of background check as part of the application.

** In this case, this third party must be authorize by the authorities in order to ask a person for the results of his/her background check. California Penal Code section 11142 prohibits you from giving a copy of your criminal record to an unauthorized third party. In addition, California Penal Code section 11125 prohibits an individual or agency from requiring you to provide him/her or the agency with a copy of your criminal record or proof that a record does or does not exist. Violation of either of these sections is a misdemeanor offense.

d.      For Visa Purposes.

This is common for individuals applying for visas to live, travel, study, and/or work in other countries. Please read section IV below for more information.  

II. What are the types of Criminal Background Check or Proof of Good Behavior available?

There are several types of criminal background records or proof of good behavior an individual can obtain. It all depends on the purpose of the background check. In general terms, we could say there are 3 types:

1.       Local Background Check (Usually covers a City/County area)

From a Police Station. Certain city and/or county police stations provide with this service. For instance, the San Francisco Police Department provides with a Letter of Good Conduct (Clearance Letter). A person can request this letter by mail or in person. Click here for details: Clearance letter for San Francisco County only. The limitation of this type of letter is that it may only contain the information from that local area and may not be sufficient for an individual to proof good behavior. If an individual has lived in different cities/counties, running a statewide or nationwide background check is more useful.  Check the next types of background check which are more comprehensive.

2.       Statewide Background Check (called Live Scan application in california).

For an individual who had lived in different cities/counties within a state, getting a statewide background check is more useful. In California, for instance, the Department of Justice of the state offers a background check named Live Scan ( A  Live Scan application requires the individual to go to a Live Scan location ( to be fingerprinted. After the fingerprints and information of the individual are submitted electronically, the results are sent directly to the individual or to the requesting agency (the entity requesting the individual to do a background check). Here at FNL, we provide Live Scan fingerprint services in downtown San Francisco and, optionally, to cities in the Bay Area via our mobile services. (Click here for more information on our website). We are a private Live Scan provider authorized by the state of California.

**Live Scan fingeprint applications have some other purpose not covered in this post. To know more about Live Scan application in California go to our Live Scan Fingerprint service page or read our previous post: The Top 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Live Scan Fingerprinting

3.       Nationwide Background Check - FBI (Federal/50 States)

If the individual has lived in multiple states and/or if the requesting agency asks the individual to provide with a background check/proof of good behavior that covers the entire United States, the more comprehensive process is the FBI Background check. The report issue by the FBI will cover the information that this federal bureau has in its database with data from all over the country. This process, as the Live Scan process described above, also involves fingerprinting. (FBI link: The process can be done by sending the individual's fingerprints by mail or electronically and each method has its own set of steps. Here at FNL, we also provide with this type of service (See our page about Fingerprint for background check FNL is a private fingeprint provider and an authorized fingeprint roller by the state of California to perform FBI and Live Scan fingerprints. FNL is not part of  the FBI. 

III. What type of background check or proof of good behavior (as described above) is right for me?

We cannot emphasize this enough: It all depends on the purpose of the background check.  If the purpose of getting a background/criminal records check or proof of good conduct is for own personal review, the individual can decide which type (local, regional, nationwide) according to the places the individual has lived/resided. If the purpose of obtaining these results is by the request of a third-party agency (an attorney, employee, government office, adoption agency, consulate or foreign government, etc) who wants to see the results of your background check, then the individual should ask that requesting third party to specify which type of background check satisfies the requirements.

IV. Background Check or Proof of Good Conduct for Visa Applications

For people applying for a visa to visit, reside, work, or study in certain foreign countries, one of the mandatory steps to apply for such visa is to prove that the individual is a person of good conduct/behavior or, at least, that the individual does not have a serious or too recent criminal record that disqualify him/her to obtain such visa.  This proof of good conduct requirement varies depending on the country issuing the visa. Most countries require the type of background check perform by the FBI since it is considered the most comprehensive of all. Additionally, some countries require the applicant to authenticate and/or apostille the results which require an extra step needed to be taken by the applicant after getting the results of the background check. Without that authentication or apostille, some consulates or foreign governments do not accept the results of the background check as official. Always check with the consulate of the country you are applying for in order to know exactly what type of background check is accepted by them and if whether the results of the background check needs to be authenticated/apostilled. (FBI link: Additionally, there are certain countries that accept the Live Scan method of Background Check from California. For this matter, the California Department of Justice has a especial type of Live Scan for visa applications and immigration purposes. (Check this link: *pay attention to the note at bottom of that page for the information about apostille) It is highly recommended to check with the government or consulate that is asking for the background check to see if this type of records fulfill their requirements. Also check with them if an apostille or authentication is needed.

·         Apostille: Type of notarization that meets international standards and is accepted in several countries. In the case of an FBI background check the authentication/apostille must be performed by the U.S. Department of State. (See more info: For California Live Scan results, the apostille or authentication is performed by the California Department of State, if needed. (See more info: )

Additional Notes:

·         California Penal Code section 11142 prohibits an employer to request a copy of your criminal records unless this employer/agency has authorization to do so from the Department of Justice of California.

·         A valid and unexpired photo ID is needed for the grand majority of background checks.

        Legal Disclaimer: This information is provided for information and entertaining purposes. The information contained in this post does not constitute legal advice. FNL does not provide legal advice of any kind. If you have legal questions, always consult with an attorney or legal professional. 


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The Top 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Live Scan Fingerprinting


The Top 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Live Scan Fingerprinting

I. What is Live Scan?

Live Scan Live Scan is a standardized digital method of acquiring your personal information and fingerprints for background checking purposes in California. Here at FNL, we perform this type of Live Scan background checking.

II. How does Live Scan work?

The fingerprints of an individual are acquired using an electronic fingerprint scanner and then, along with the individual personal information, submitted electronically to the California Department of Justice for processing. The results of the background check are then sent to the requesting agency (the institution or office who asked you to do the fingerprints) or directly to you depending on the type of Live Scan request you are doing.

III. Why do I need to do the Live Scan?

There are different purposes for the Live Scan process. In general terms there are two main reasons to do it:

1.       By request of a Requesting Agency.

The requesting agency is the organization, company, institution, or office asking you to complete the Live Scan fingerprints process. These Requesting Agencies are authorized by the State of California to obtain the results of a background check performed to an individual. This is a common step for those applying for a:

-  Professional license (e.g. Medical License, Dental License, Attorney License, Massage Therapist license, Contractor’s license, Certified Public Accountant, Pharmacist License, etc)

-  Permit or Certification (Petition for Adoption, Teacher Credential, Custodian of Records, Permit to carry a concealed weapon, Security Guard Permit, Finance Lender License, etc.)

-  Job Applications or Volunteer positions (Teaching positions, Credentialed School employees, volunteers working with children or the elderly, etc)

2.       For personal purposes or for obtaining your own personal background records.

A individual can request his/her own records to the California Department of Justice for his/her own personal use. This is commonly done for:

Visa Applications: For those who intend to travel, work, or study overseas and have been asked to show proof of good conduct or good behavior. *Always check with the consulate you are applying to and see if this type of background check is acceptable for them.

Personal review. If you want to know if there is a criminal record associated with your personal information and fingerprints. This is good for those who have been trying to clean their past records (e.g. expungement).

- Recommendation of an attorney. Some attorneys recommend their clients to do a background check in order to work on their cases.

For Immigration Purposes or before submitting an immigration application.

IV. What do I need in order to do the Live Scan process?

1.       You will need the REQUEST FOR LIVE SCAN SERVICE form. This form should be given to you by the Requesting Agency. This form is important since it has specific information about the Requesting Agency and who would be the recipient of the results of your background check. This form has a section with the individual's personal information that the Live Scan operator will need to transmit to the Department of Justice. *If you are doing the Live Scan for personal, visa, or immigration purposes you can download the form from the California Department of Justice website: Personal review:  , Visa/Immigration: . Here at FNL, we could provide you with the Live Scan form for personal/visa/immigration purposes.

2.       Identification Document. A valid California Driver License or Identification Card. Driver Licenses from other states are also acceptable. Other type of photo ID’s (U.S. or foreign passports, etc) are also acceptable but would require a secondary form of identification. Contact your Live Scan provider for information about a secondary form of Identification.

3.       Fees. There are two types of fees to take in consideration:

-          The fee of the Live Scan operator (also known as rolling fees). This is the fee the operator charges for providing the Live Scan service. 

-          The fee collected by the Live Scan operator on behalf of the California Department of Justice. This fee varies depending on the level of service. In some instances you are not responsible to pay this particular fee. Contact the Requesting Agency to know about this fee. The Live Scan operator can also tell you how much this fee would be. 

V. Where can I get this Live Scan Service performed?

There are several different places throughout California that are authorized by the Department of Justice of the State where you can do it. The list of Live Scan operator can be found at the Department of Justice website:

If you choose to get this Live Scan service done in downtown San Francisco, here at FNL, we would be glad to help you with it.  We are above the Powell Bart/Muni Station and across the street from Westfield Galleria. Click here to visit our Home Page or to Contact Us. We also provide mobile services in San Francisco and certain cities of the Bay Area.

Additional Information about Live Scan: Office of the Attorney General of the State of California. 


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California Driver License for Undocumented Immigrants (Updated)

Why Some Should Wait and Others Should Hurry Up

David Chang Photography. All Rights Reserved.

After approximately 20 years California is again allowing residents of the state with no immigration status to apply for a driver’s license.  It is estimated that 1.4 million would benefit with this new law, commonly known as AB60.

California DMV has been preparing for and is expecting a big wave of applicants starting January 2nd. Numerous non-profit organizations as well as different consulates in the state are helping people in gathering the necessary documentation and preparing applicants for the exams at no charge.

Here are few of the reasons we think some applicants should wait until some issues are clarified by the authorities while some others should hurry up or face long delays.


For those who fall under one of these three categories:

1.       Those who obtained a California driver license in the past using false information or fake documents since they could be in risk of facing fraud charges.

2.       Those who have been issued a removal or deportation order by immigration authorities.

3.       Those who have a criminal history.

What to do:

If you fall under one of these categories, wait.  Don’t apply for a driver license yet and instead get more informed. Seek the advice of an attorney or legal organization. There are also several organizations that are offering free help to those trying to apply for the driver license under AB60. Take advantage of that help and make an educated decision into whether to apply for the driver license or not.  

Hurry Up

For those who do not fall under one of the three categories described above, they should start getting into action now. There are around 1.4 million eligible immigrants who are potentially applying for the driver license along with you. Again, take advantage of all those organizations that are helping immigrants to get the documents needed and prepare for the exams for free.

On January 2nd, this blog tried to see how long it would take to make an appointment with the DMV office in San Francisco using the DMV website to start the application process. The system showed that the next available appointment was April 1st!

There are four new temporary DMV locations that are receiving new applicants without appointment. Check this link:


An article posted 01/05/2015 on website reinforces the core message(s) of our original post: 1- WAIT: Those who have been deported, received an order of deportation or removal, and those with criminal history should seek legal advice before applying for the driver license. 2- HURRY UP: It could take the DMV 3 years to process all the driver licenses requests under the AB60 law due to the large number of people that qualifies. Read the entire article here:


1.       Free, free, free. Again, take advantage of one of the numerous non-profits, consulates, and pro-immigrant organizations that are offering workshops and classes for those applying for the driver license under the AB60 for free.

2.       Fraud, Fraud, Fraud. Do not believe those who tell you that they can speed up the process if you pay them extra money or that they know someone inside the DMV that can make things easier for you.

3.       Study, study, study. When the state of Nevada started offering driver license for undocumented immigrants, 90% did not pass the written test. Prepare for the exam so you can pass it on your first try and avoid delays to your own application and everyone else’s.

4.       There are no deadlines to apply for this type of driver license under AB60. So if you want to take your time, it’s OK. 



Lawsuit filed over immigrant driver's license data:

New California driver's license law driving controversy:

California otorga licencias de manejar a indocumentados en medio de fuertes dudas (Spanish):


This post, as the other posts on this blog, are for information and entertaining purposes only. Do not take this post as legal advice. If you have a legal question, you should always look for an attorney or legal organization. 


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2015 Mandatory Changes to Notarization Certificates in California

Starting January 1st, 2015, notarization certificates must have a consumer notification at the top of the certificate. This mandatory notification must be added to all acknowledgments, jurats, and proofs of executions. Failure to make these changes to the notarization certificate would make the notarization invalid and in risk to be rejected.

This is the new consumer notification that needs to be added to the certificates:

“A Notary Public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document.”

According to the National Notary Association this new consumer notification “seeks to reduce fraud by letting consumers know that the Notary’s seal and signature do not authenticate or endorse the contents of a document. The legislation’s sponsors wanted to make sure that people unfamiliar with a Notary’s duties would not be more inclined to trust a fraudulent document simply because it was notarized.

To know more about this mandatory change for notarization certificates click the following links from the National Notary Association website:

CLICK HERE to see a sample of the new notarization certificate. 


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2015 Fully Loaded - California Edition

New Laws Taking Effect with the New Year

There are 931 new laws in California in 2015! 

Most of them taking effect today, January 1st.

You may know some of these new laws since they have been heavily publicized throughout 2014. For instance: AB60 – Driver License for Undocumented Immigrants (see separate post soon), Statewide plastic bag ban, increase of minimum wage, paid sick leave changes, regulations regarding selfies, the “Yes Means Yes” standard, etc.

But some of these new laws, regulations or ordinances have passed unnoticed. For instance the chicken-cage size law that may increase the price of eggs in the near future, notarization certificates changes (see separate post soon), birth and death certificates modifications in favor of same sex couples, privacy law regarding drones, etc.

FNL has gathered web links that you may find useful for knowing and understanding this full load of new laws in the state.

Happy New Year!

FNL - At Your Service

Minimum Wage Ordinance (WMO) – San Francisco


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Welcome to FNL's Blog Section

At Your Service

This Blog is intended to serve the community and our business partners with useful information in regards to the core services FNL provides. Although you may find this blog informative and entertaining, this website is not intended to provide legal advise by any means. Please always have this in consideration while enjoying this blog section and consult an attorney should you have any legal questions. Thank you for your visit.

FNL - At Your Service. 


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