My FBI Clearance is HERE!

6 Jan

The last piece of the visa puzzle: the FBI police clearance. This elusive piece of paper that says “Emily has committed no crimes” cost over $150 all told, took 10 months, 3 applications, who knows how many sets of fingerprints, two lost letters, one bungled address, numerous phone calls, and a couple nervous breakdowns… but it’s finally here.

It has been an incredibly frustrating time. There have been tears. There has been anger. It should NOT be this difficult to get a little piece of paper that proves you are a law-abiding citizen.

I’m posting this to warn anyone who still needs to get this done not to wait. My case officer requested this document eight months after I turned my visa application in. Can you imagine if I started this hellish process when the request for more information came through on November 25? I would be sitting here at the start of my waiting journey, unknowingly signing myself up for another ten months before I could be eligible to get this visa approved.

If you don’t send in your FBI police clearance application before you send in your visa application, I recommend doing it soon after. The new online visa application submission system should mean that applications are approved faster than before. While your FBI clearance is only good for a year, its likely that by the time you get your FBI clearance, you will only have a few months’ wait ahead of you for visa approval.

To those of you still waiting for their FBI clearance, I’m sorry, and I understand your pain. Try to take a deep breath. You will get the document you need. Eventually.

Here are some tips for getting your FBI clearance with your first application rather than your third. A lot of these probably seem like common sense, but I’ve seen several people on forums struggling with this, so I thought I’d post them up.

  1. Get your fingerprints taken by a professional, and make sure you get multiple sets. When they scan your fingerprints in, it seems the machine is particularly sensitive. Sending multiple sets will ensure there are multiple chances for your fingerprints to be readable.
  2. Send your fingerprints in via registered post (make sure your envelope is trackable) so that you can have some peace of mind knowing that your application has arrived. You will not receive any communication from the FBI until you receive either a) a request for additional fingerprints or b) your clearance in the mail. This could be three months after your application was sent in.
  3. Don’t fold your fingerprints. Make sure they are in a large, flat envelope. Folding increases the risk of making your fingerprints unreadable.
  4. Make a copy of your application before you send it out, and make a copy of your receipt from the post office. In case your case officer asks for this document before you are able to provide it, these things will serve as proof that you have sent out an application.
  5. Don’t be afraid to call in! The customer service number, as well as when they will start answering your questions (currently 6 weeks from the time they receive your application), are available on the FBI CJIS website. Again, this may give you some peace of mind. Or, in my case, it helped them catch a mistake with the address. You never know what issues there might be.
  6. If possible, have it sent to an address in the US. This will cut down on post time and reduce the risk of it being lost in international transit. My case officer only requested a scanned copy of the document, not the physical thing. Had I done this, my mother could have scanned the document to me when she received it and I could have forwarded it to my case officer. If you do need the physical copy, the US person could at least make many copies, get them certified, and send the document with tracking to you. Again, this would offer you peace of mind.

Let me know if you have any questions, tips, or complaints about the FBI police check process–I’d love to hear them (and commiserate!)


4 Responses to “My FBI Clearance is HERE!”

  1. Tom November 27, 2015 at 10:23 pm #


    Were you required to provide a state police check for the US state you are from, on top of the FBI check as I am seeing online that both are required.

    I appreciate your time!


    • inkhearted December 18, 2015 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Tom, sorry, I see that I’m quite late getting back to you! I was not required to do a state police check. At the time, state police checks were only required if you had been residing in the US in the past year (I had been in Australia for over a year by the time they requested checks). I’m not sure if things have changed, though, so you might want to check with Immigration itself or on a forum like to see if a state police check is now required. Hope that helps!


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