How to get FBI Clearance Certificate – Visa Immigration

FBI clearance certificate can be applied using 3 different options. FBI Police clearance certificate is same as FBI clearance Certificate. We list them according to cost and time required.
FBI calls it Identity History Summary Checks.

All 10 fingerprints are required for running a background check and receiving FBI Clearance Certificate.
Related: How to get Indian police clearance certificate from Indian Embassy

Option 1: FBI Clearance Application Online on FBI Website

The FBI Police clearance certificate processing time with online application is 3 to 5 Days.

  1. Create FBI Clearance request online

    FBI Police clearance certificate online request.

    Open the link in Mozilla or Internet Explorer. Chrome and Safari do not work.
    I am not sure why but, the FBI website link throws invalid_request error in Chrome browser and website does NOT open.

  2. Enter email to start application
    Follow the steps under the section Obtaining Your Identity History Summary->How to submit a request.

    To start your application, enter your email and click submit button:

    FBI clearance – Enter email to start online application
  3. Email from FBI
    Once you submit, you will receive an email from FBI with your log in password and unique FBI page link. Click this unique link and fill the FBI application form.
    FBI clearance unique link

    Enter your PIN (from email) and click Log in. ‘Accept’ the terms and conditions.

  4. Fill Online Application
    FBI clearance – Enter personal Information
    FBI clearance – Enter mailing address

    FBI clearance – Enter preferences

    You have option to receive a response by First-Class Mail via the USPS too.

    FBI Police clearance fees is $18.
    Pay FBI fees online by credit card. No extra fees for postal mail response.

    At this time, the STATUS on FBI website will show as ‘INSUFFICIENT’ for your case as FBI is waiting for your fingerprints.

    Print FD-258 form on a plain A4 size white paper.
    This form needs to be filled with BLACK ink including fingerprints.You can pretty much take the fingerprints yourself if you are outside USA like in India or any other country.

    I strongly recommend to get the fingerprints from your local Police station if you are currently in USA.
    Fedex and other local postal mail vendors in USA also provide fingerprinting services for a price starting from $25+ per person.

    I tried for me and my wife as it seemed pretty easy using this official FBI fingerprint guide. But the ink was just messing up the fine finger lines and merging them.

    If the fingerprints are not good, FBI will simply reject your application.

    Local police station in USA charges anywhere between $5 to $10 for each person’s fingerprints and they are EXPERTS. They provide the form FD-258 too. So, you do not need to print it yourself.
    Most of them will do it for free again, if the first prints are rejected by FBI.

    This is a sample FD-258 form that was fingerprinted using Plano, TX Police station’s fingerprinting service:

  6. Print and Mail
    Print the order confirmation email that you would have received from FBI.

    Send the email confirmation and form FD-258 (with your fingerprints) to FBI CJIS division by postal mail. You can mail them to FBI from outside USA too.

    FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
    1000 Custer Hollow Road
    Clarksburg, WV 26306
  7. FBI clearance certificate Tracking
    Once the mail is delivered to FBI, they usually take about 48 hours to update the tracking status on their website and inform you by email.
  8. FBI clearance certificate Issue
    FBI will then scan your fingerprints to complete your criminal record background check.
    They will make the certificate available on the website itself for downloading electronically.The whole process of FBI background check is automated and you can expect to receive the clearance certificate within minutes of their acknowledgment email (for your fingerprints).

    If you opted for postal mail FBI clearance certificate too, then it will arrive by USPS mail between 6-7 days. The paper hard copy and one available for download are exactly same.

Related: Attestation of Power of Attorney at Indian Consulate – USA

Option 2. FBI Clearance Request with POSTAL Mail

FBI police clearance request by postal mail processing time is 14 to 16 weeks.

  1. Download the FBI police verification application form from here. Print and fill up the form.
  2. Make a Cashier’s check or Money Order for $18 per person as fees, payable to “Treasury of the United States”.
    You can pay by credit card too. Print this payment form and fill your credit card info to send with your application.
  3. Get your fingerprints. Follow the same process as listed above for FINGERPRINTS.
  4. Send application, payment and fingerprints to FBI office via trackable postal mail. Address is mentioned above.
  5. Note: This is the SLOWEST method of getting police verification from FBI. The ONLY difference between this method and the first option above is that you make the payment online in first method. The first one is lot faster than this one. So, I recommend using the first one any-day.

Option 3. Submit Request with FBI approved third party Channelers

FBI Police clearance processing time with third party provider is 3-4 days. This is the fastest and most expensive option.

  1. Choose one third party FBI vendors from this approved list here (List of FBI-Approved Channelers for Departmental Order Submissions — FBI).
  2. They take your fingerprints electronically and transmit them to FBI electronically too. This makes the process the fastest among the 3 options.They are available outside USA too in a country like India.
    This is probably the fastest method to get FBI clearance certificate for Canada immigration or Australia PR if you are located outside USA.
  3. The fees varies with each vendor and normally starts from $200 per person. They collect the total fees from you, including the FBI’s $18 fees per person.
  4. FBI officially says that this third party service is ONLY available for USA citizens and Green card holders.
    But, I know from reliable sources who are neither US citizens nor green holder and have used it to get FBI clearance within 3-4 days.

Sample FBI Police Verification Letter

Check Sample FBI Police Clearance LetterSample FBI Clearance Certificate here.

Validity of FBI certificate?

There is no expiry date mentioned on FBI certificate as such. Check Validity of FBI certificate for different countries.

Will there be verification done by FBI Police at my home address?

No, there is no physical police verification done by FBI at your place of residence.

They use your fingerprints to find your details. If you have ever been arrested or fingerprinted by FBI, they will have your record.

You would have been ten printed (meaning 10 fingerprints given) while applying for USA visa in your own country, at US embassy’s OFC center.

I am not sure if FBI has access to the fingerprints that you gave at US embassy for Visa or if they verify that database. They have not disclosed it on their website.

Multiple applications in same postal mail?

Yes, you can send multiple cashier check, multiple fingerprint cards and multiple confirmation email copies in single postal mail.

Can I use the same fingerprint card I used for my previous Identity History Summary?

No. The FBI requires a current fingerprint card to process your Identity History Summary.

Will my fingerprint card be returned after certificate is issued?

No. Due to concerns related to the protection of personally identifiable information, fingerprint cards are no longer being returned either for a “no summary” response or with an Identity History Summary.

Will the last four digits of my Social Security number be on my response?

If the last four digits of your Social Security number are needed on your response letter, then please ensure the full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number are on the fingerprint card when submitting your request.

Change address after I submitted my request for Police verification or if I want to verify my correct address was submitted?

Please complete and sign the Address Change Request Form and fax it to (304) 625-9792, or scan the form and e-mail it to

If you submitted your request electronically (Option 1 above), you may change your address either by using the secure link and personal identification number received during the request process or by e-mail.

Do I need to send a self-addressed stamped RETURN envelope with my request?

No, you are NOT required to send any ‘return shipping’ envelope. FBI takes care of return shipping and mailing.

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  • Is the first method possible for someone if they doing it from india? i was told that option is only for people present in US at that point

    • Yes, its possible form outside USA. You can take your fingerprints yourself and send it by postal mail to FBI office.
      Just select the electronic delivery of report. That's it. You would be able to download the file from FBI website once it is available.

  • How long FBI Police Clearance Certificate for Canada PR is valid? I have not yet given my IELTS so if I submit my finger prints electronically and i get issues in couple of weeks time, how long is the certificate valid? Also, please let me know if someone who is nor a Green card holder or citizen of USA can submit FBI application electronically?

    • 1. Canada will accept your FBI certificate it it was issued in last 6 months (if you are currently living in USA at the time of submission).
      If living is any other country at the time of submitting FBI certificate for Canada PR, then there is no expiry date for FBI.

      2. Yes, non-citizen and non - Green card holder can also use the third part service to submit fingerprints electronically.

  • Can one use a live scan fingerprinting services too?
    Am asking so because I see some states in the USA have fingerprinting services with vendors like ups& fedex.
    California , Texas and Florida are good examples.

    • Yes, you can use any of the fingerprinting services including LIVE scanning.
      I have just given an example from Local police station fingerprinting service as they are the cheapest.

      UPS and Fedex would charge about $25+.

      • If you opt for live scan finger printing, will you still need to download the fd 258 form or since the process is digitalized the the fd 258 is generated during the finger screening and sent directly to fbi site ?

        Just curious to find out if during the screening time you can request for a copy of your live scan.

        • It depends on which service you use.
          1. If you use the LIVE scanning with third party providers (Option 3 above), then they may or may not print FD258 for you. It depends on what cost and services you buy from them.
          They do send the scans electronically to FBI though.
          2. If you use Fedex or UPS LIVE scanning, they do print the fingerprints on FD258 but do NOT send the prints electronically to FBI. You will have to print the fingerprint card and send it by postal mail to FBI (Option 1 above).

  • Is it possible to take the e-do registration if Im doing it here in the Philippines?, How long is the Validity of the Police Clearance? I will be using it for my application to work in UK

    • 1. FBI certificate is valid for 6 months if you are currently living in USA at the time of submission.
      If living is any other country at the time of submitting FBI certificate, then there is no expiry date for FBI.
      See the real certificate above, it has no expiry date mentioned.
      2. Not sure what you mean by e-do registration. If you mean the third party FBI certificate service provider, then yes, if you have any provider in Philippines, you can use them.

  • Hello Anil,

    I am non-citizen or green card holder but i went the FBI approved channelers they said they can issue and got the clearance certificate. Can i use this in canada pr process because in certain blog it said they might not accept so just curious and worried if i have to do it again from FBI website. Do you know if anyone has faced any issues.

    • I know of many people who are non-citizen (non green card holder) and still got it from third party channelers and used it in Australia Imimgration.

      Does the certificate you received look like the one I have shared in above article? The one above is what I got using the direct FBI request (without third party).
      So, if your certificate matches the one above, you are good to use it in Canada PR.

      I do not see a reason this should not be accepted. It is issued by FBI themselves.

        • Officially, the third party channellers cannot be used by non-citizens/non green card holders.
          But, in practice, almost all of them allow you to do so.
          My friends outside USA (specifically in India) have used it and I can vouch for it. They are reliable sources.

          You can choose any of them. They all provide the service.

          • Which one in specific did your friend use if you dont mind passing info please.

            I have tried some with no success.They want you to book appointment online but once you answer the question asking for citizenship/ permanet residency
            they say you can’t book an appointment.

          • My friend used another agent in Delhi. This agent just asked for a US based phone number to receive an OTP (One time password) and then used the third part channeller service.
            The agent then selected the option that the person (my friend) is a 'Green card holder' even though he is not.
            He got the result within 5 days.

      • Thanks for your reply . The only difference i see is it does not contain my date of birth other than that everything else looks exactly the same. Will that be an issue?

  • Hi Anil,
    I have 2 questions regarding this blog post :
    1) I have completed Step 1.C but I want to wait for ITA before starting next step 1.D (since the FBI report shouldn't be older than 6 months from ITA date). Is there any pre-defined time (after the completion of Step 1.C) under which Step 1.D (further steps) should be completed ?
    2) I checked the Fremont Police Department online website and seems like they now provide option to electronically send finger prints to FBI. But we need to get this form from FBI “Request for Live Scan Service" form (BCII 8016) form.
    2.a) Do you know if this is accepted by FBI ?
    2.b) Has anyone tried this method before?
    2.c) from where can I get this form?


  • 1. I do know if there is any pre-defined time that you can wait. I would assume 30-40 days wait is okay. My fingerprint card was delivered to FBI office after 25 days of completing step 1C and they did issue the certificate.

    2.(a) FBI accepts both paper and electronically submitted fingerprints. For electronically submitting fingerprints, they advice to go through the third party approved channelers though. See the link above for list of channellers.
    2.(b) I have not tried the police station electronic fingerptinting sending. My friend has used the Third party channeller from India to send electronic fingerprints.
    2.(c) This BCIA 8016 form seems to be specific to state of California. You can get the form from official California state website here:
    As per the instructions from Fremont police, this form has to be filled by requester first, which in this case is FBI.

    I have neither heard about it nor found reference for it on FBI website.
    Will check once more and update you.

    • Hi Anil,
      Thanks for feedback.
      I checked with a 3rd Party authorized agency and they mentioned FBI allows 90 days between Step 1c and 1d.
      Also "Live Scan Service" is only applicable for US Citizens and Green Card holder. All other applicants have to sent via mail.

  • ' Name oHi!!I am trying to do the fingerprinting at home by myself but I wanted to know what should be added in the "Name of Official taking fingerprints" if /i am doing it by myself? Please help

  • Hi Anil,
    I submitted FBI Clearance form as per your guidance on this page. I got the FBI Clearance Certificate. I submitted it to the Australian Immigration, but now they are saying that FBI Clearance Certificate should have my alias name included. Can you please help me with that?

    • Why do you have alias name? Did you fill it any of the Australian immigration forms?
      I am not sure if FBI gives you an option to specify add alias name.

      • Yes I gave some name as Alias Name, like how we put initials in front of our name.
        Like K.Siva K Siva - This is how the name is appearing in all of my education documents. So I gave those name to Australian Immigration forms. since it was required

        • Then, you should have used the same name in your FBI certificate request as well. You can get another FBI certificate now.

  • Hi there,

    I am also asked by the Dept of Home Affairs in Australia to provide FBI Police clearance certificate as well as the state police checks for my PR application. Since I used to live in the States (Maryland and New York), do I also have to get the police check from each state? Or will the FBI Police clearance certificate cover all the state police checks and suffice this requirement?


    • Have you been contacted by Australian Immigration case office (CO) and asked to provide state police checks explicitly?
      I have not heard of state police checks being required earlier. Only FBI police clearance is sufficient if they have NOT asked for state police check explicitly.

      • Yes, Anil, the notice from them says that "Police clearance certificates must have 12 months validity for United States FBI and State (Maryland etc) police clearance". So I am not sure if FBI clearance will be sufficient in this case, although it does cover the national clearance?

        • Hi,
          I did some more research and found that yes, you do need state police clearance too from USA.

          US citizens and permanent residents:
          'FBI Identity History Summary' issued by the FBI or an approved channeler and a State Police Clearance for each State in which you have lived for at least 3 months for the last 12 months.

          US temporary residents and visitors:
          'FBI Identity History Summary' issued by the FBI and if you resided in the US for at least three months in the past year, a State Police Clearance for each State in which you have lived for at least 3 months during the last 12 months.

          So, if you have lived in MARYLAND for more than 3 months in last 12 months, then yes, you need to submit it too.

          • Hi Anil,

            Firstly i would like to thank you for your efforts which is making life easier for me. I blindly followed you for my Indian PCC and FBI PCC. It would be helpful if you can put the process to apply for State PCC as well.

          • Hi Anil, I want it for California, Michigan and Illinois states. I resided in those 3 states for more than 3 months

          • Hi Anil, I only lived in the states from 2008-2014 as an international student and work visa holder.. So for the past 4 years, I haven’t been back to the US since I moved to Australia. If it says for the past 12 months, it is definitely not in my case. Could you advise?

          • Well, that is correct. In your case, it is not applicable. But, If you do not want to delay your case any further, you should probably apply for both FBI and US State police check to save time.

        • Just need a clarification from you. Did you submit FBI clearance with your application submission or not?
          if you had already submitted FBI clearance earlier, then they are explicitly asking for state police check now?

          • No I didn’t submit the FBI clearance along with my application submission though I did submit the Australian national police check and the one from my home country. However they are over 12 months now since the wait time takes so long that I have to resubmit the updated police checks. Then I got asked to submit them plus the new requested FBI and state police checks as I told you.

        • ok..if they have specifically mentioned the state, then you need to get clearance from local state police department too.
          Looks like they have started asking for state clearance recently as I have not heard of this requirement from other people who have already migrated to Australia from US.

          • Hi Anil,

            I just got the FBI clearance via email. Just wondering if I also need to get it (also other police checks from my home country and Australia Federal Police) notarized before uploading them to the Immi system? Or police checks are fine as they are. Cheers

          • You have to get police checks from all countries where you have stayed for more than 12 months in last 10 years. For USA, FBI check is same as Police check.

          • I know. I got them all already . Just checking if I should also get them "certified" (notarized)? I thought police checks are Ok without notarization?

          • ohh..i missed your 'notarized' part of the question.
            Notarization is not needed for police certificates. Scan them in color for uploading.

  • Hi Anil,

    I want to go with "Option 1. Electronically Submit Request Directly to FBI". Do you know any known any Third party providers in Kerala that do this service?

  • Hi Anil, I have a question. I had an arrest in 2014 which was later dismissed the case was also expunged in florida. I just received the ITA for applying to canada. Should I be worried as far as the identity history check from fbi is concerned? If yes, is there anything I can do about it? Please let me know

    • It depends on what shows up on your FBI report. You can't do anything about it if it shows up on your history report.

  • HI Anil
    my parents need FBI CLEARANCE certificate for Canada PR .They didnt stay more than three months in USA but their total stay in four years exceeds six months and for finger print they are confused about where to do finger print.In finger print form there is a column(signature of fingerprint taken in presence).
    They are living in India,Gujarat.Is it ok to do in presence of local police dept and on normal A4 white paper with blank ink,as u said we can do finger print by ourselves. Does FBI consider self taken fingerprint ??

    • FBI do consider self taken prints but I strongly recommended to use third party service in India.
      There is a specific way that you need to take fingerprints else FBI will reject your application.

      Third party agents and channellers are available in India and you can use their service.

  • Hi Anil,
    This is Kris. Thank you for providing detailed explanation on the steps. I followed the above instructions (Option 1) and I was able to download the soft copy of my clearance certificate from FBI site. However, though I had requested for a hardcopy, I did not receive it yet. If it takes longer is there a way to follow up? The softcopy was available on 15th of Nov. Is it okay if I submit the printed copy that I downloaded from FBI certificate for Canada Immigration ? or do they need the Original itself ? Could you please clarify ?

    • The FBI PDF file is valid for submission to any immigration authority. In your case, you can use it for Canada.
      No need to wait for physical copy.

      Physical should have arrived by now in mail though. I am guessing the delay may be due to holiday season.

  • I checked with local Sheriff station and they said you can collect the fd258 card from UPS. They don't do it on print out. I went in to UPS too and found out they don't sell those cards loose. We need to either get fingerprinting from them. Is printing fd258 on A4 will work? Also, do I need to get FBI certificate for Canada for each member including 9 month baby.

    Thanks in advance.

    • FD258 on A4 white paper works only if you are taking fingerprints yourself. I don't recommend doing it yourself as there is a technique to it on how to print them correctly. FBI would reject your fingerprints if they are not taken a certain way. So, its better to get it done by someone else who knows about it.

      If FD258 form is not available easily, go to a police station that provides fingerprinting service (paid). They will give it to you for free.
      It is possible that your city's police don't do it but some other town's police station might have this service. Check on Google.

      FBI certificate is needed for each adult. Child is not required to have FBI certificate.

        • The age limit is defined by the country or youthe purpose for which you need FBI certificate for.
          For Canada, each adult (18+) needs FBI certificate.

  • I sent all the correct documents by post and calculated I should've had a reply by Nov 2018...It's now Jan 2019 and I've heard nothing. Is there a phone number or email I can contact to follow up on my clearance? Had I known I could do it electronically I would've opted for that!!!!

    • The normal processing time is 14 to 16 weeks for normal postal mail FBI request. There should be a contact method on FBI website. I am not aware of it as never encountered anyone who's request was delayed.

  • Hi Anil, Thanks for your post. I got my FBI PCC done on Jan 14. I was in USA at that time. I travelled to India later and re-eneterd USA on Feb 16. Do I need to get a new FBI PCC because of the visit?

  • Hey Anil, hoping you can answer a couple questions for me (and thanks in advance):

    1. What is the fastest way to have your fingerprints processed? How long does it take on average for the FBI to receive them? I'm a US citizen, currently in the US, if that helps.

    2. Are the FBI clearance certificates the same, regardless of how you request them (digitally vs. snail mail)? I want to do it digitally, as it's obviously much faster, and I can't use a channeler because Slovak authorities don't accept the format that channelers provide. I'm guessing the clearance certificate is the same, since it's directly requested to/from the FBI. Any ideas?

    3. My goal is to have the clearance certificate process done (including fingerprints) and in my hands within 1 month. Does that sound feasible to you?

    Thank you so much

    • I have given timelines for each option above. Please read it carefully and you will get answers to all your questions.

Published by
Anil Gupta

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