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What is a background check?

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Conducting background investigations and reference checks

Question: I have never had a record and now my petition is pending for a ‘background check’. What exactly is this and why must I get it?

What is a Background Check?

What is a Background Check?

Answer: All applicants for a U.S. immigration benefit are subject to criminal and national security background checks to ensure they are eligible for that benefit. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Federal agency that oversees immigration benefits, performs checks on every applicant, regardless of ethnicity, national origin or religion. Since 2002, USCIS has increased the number and scope of relevant background checks, processing millions of security checks. However in some cases, USCIS customers and immigrant advocates have expressed frustration over delays in processing applications, noting that individual customers have waited a year or longer for the completion of their adjudication pending the outcome of security checks.

Question: Why does USCIS conduct security checks?

What is a Background Check?

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Answer: USCIS conducts security checks for all cases involving a petition or application for an immigration service or benefit. These security checks have yielded information about applicants involved in violent crimes, sex crimes, crimes against children, drug trafficking and individuals with known links to terrorism.

Question: How does the immigration security checks work?

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immigration attorney

Answer: Different kinds of applications undergo different levels of scrutiny. USCIS normally uses the following three background check mechanisms but maintains the authority to conduct other background investigations as necessary:
Results of an IBIS check are usually available immediately. In some cases, information found during an IBIS check will require further investigation. The FBI fingerprint check provides information relating to criminal background within the United States. Generally, the FBI forwards responses to USCIS within 24-48 hours. If there is a record match, the FBI forwards an electronic copy of the criminal history (RAP sheet) to USCIS. In cases involving arrests or charges without disposition USCIS requires the applicant to provide court certified evidence of the disposition. The FBI name check is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks.