If you are attempting to get a passport or immigrate into the United States, you are going to need to obtain a police clearance certificate. Whether you are currently residing in the USA for 6 months, or are intending to come into the United States, there are certain steps you need to take to obtain police clearance from the FBI.
To start, you are going to need to have your fingerprints taken.
If you live outside of the United States, you’re going to need to contact an FBI agency office to obtain a fingerprint form, but you cannot contact any FBI office. Instead, you’re going to need to contact the FBI field office listed below:
FBI, CJIS Division
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306
If you live inside the United States, you can also contact your local police department or a regional office of the DMV. Private agencies that are registered with the FBI and can submit your fingerprints are also able to take your prints for passport use.
You do need to specify that your fingerprints are being used specifically for obtaining a passport or to immigrate out of the United States and into another country.
If you live outside of the United States, when you show up to have your fingerprints taken at your specified local agency you are going to need to provide a photo ID, along with your existing passport (if you have one), and a letter from the Consulate or Embassy.
Fingerprint records, once received, should be forwarded to the address above, along with a certified check for $18 made payable to the United States Treasury.
Processing generally takes between 6 to 8 weeks, and the FBI will send the results of their checks by mail to the address you’ve supplied. The results you receive can be used as your police clearance certificate.
Once received, you will need to send the cards and attached documents to your Consulate or Embassy. Please note that you must supply the original documents. Keep a set of photocopied records for your own file, but the local agencies do not accept photocopies as proof of your completion.
You have two different options.
First, you will need to download the clearance certificate application form from the FBI’s website or submit your request through mail. You will then need to submit your application form along with your fingerprints to the FBI, with a certified check.
You can also apply through an FBI approved channeler that will deliver the information you’ve submitted to the FBI. They can collect your application, your fingerprint records, along with the fees you’ll be required to pay and submit the documents to the FBI.
You will need to request the application form from the FBI’s website and then visit a local authorized agency in your country of residence to have your fingerprints taken. You will need to also use an authorized agency to submit the form and your fingerprint results to the FBI.
Upon receipt, the FBI will perform a secondary background check and verify the results of your application. If approved, they will send you a letter and the documents that you need to apply for citizenship or immigration into the United States.
You will need to note, though, that FBI approved channeler offices are only available to United States citizens and permanent residents. To find an agency that can help take your fingerprints and are approved to submit the documents to the FBI, you are going to need to visit your local embassy or consulate.
Even though most police clearance certificates may be offered and returned to you within 4-6 weeks, it may take longer for the FBI to process your documents, depending on their current load and the number of people actively requesting clearances.
In some cases, it may take them 60 days, or longer, to return the documents that you’ve submitted and let you know if they have granted your clearance. This is something you should account for if you are on a set schedule and need to enter the United States by a certain date.
You also need to keep in mind that any documents you submit, whether from your fingerprinting agency or your local law enforcement agency, must be originals. The FBI will not accept photocopies, and submitting photocopied documents could delay your clearance issuance even further out than 60 days.
If you are applying for permanent residence into the United States, you will need to upload your documents and allow an extended time period for your approval to be granted.
In some cases, Express Entry may be granted. If you have current security clearance or have a person in your immediate network with security clearance that can vouch for your reasons for entry, the FBI may expedite your request.
Having current secret clearances through your military may also expedite the process when you are applying for permanent residence.
Please ensure that you take your time while you are submitting your documents for processing. If there are any discrepancies in the information you have provided, the FBI will reject your request and you will be required to submit the documents again.
If the FBI uncovers criminal history in your background checks that you have not disclosed, your application could be denied. If you believe this may be the case, you will want to work on clearing up your criminal history through your local courts before you apply for entry into the United States.
Some misdemeanor crimes may be forgiven by the FBI, but most felonies are going to disqualify you unless you have been acquitted of the crime.
In certain cases where an acquittal has been granted, the records may not have been updated to reflect that you were never convicted of a crime, and you will need to rectify the documents before you apply for immigration or permanent residence in the United States.