How to get FBI Clearance Certificate – Visa Immigration

FBI police clearance certificate

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.

Option 1. Electronically Submit Request Directly to FBI

FAST – CHEAP – Current Processing Time is 3 to 5 Days

1.a. Create FBI Clearance request online

FBI Police clearance certificate online request..

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

1.b. Pay Fees

Follow the steps under the “Obtaining Your Identity History Summary.

You will have an option to receive a response by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service too. Just select the box while filling this application online.

Pay fees ($18 at this time) online by credit card. No extra fees for postal mail response.

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

1.c. Email from FBI

Once you pay, you will receive an email from FBI with your log in password and unique FBI page link.
At this time, the STATUS on FBI website will show as ‘INSUFFICIENT’ for your case as FBI is waiting for your fingerprints.

1.d. Get 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.

Related: How to get Indian police clearance certificate from Indian Embassy

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


1.e. 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

1.f. 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.

1.g. 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.

Option 2. Submit Request Directly to FBI via POSTAL Mail

VERY SLOW – CHEAP – Current 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

FASTEST – EXPENSIVE – Current Processing Time is 3-4 days

  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


Do I need to provide USA – FBI police certificate for Canadian Express Entry and Australian PR?

Yes for both if you have lived in USA anytime during past 10 years.

If you are Invited to Apply Canadian or Australian Permanent Residence, you need to upload a police certificate in your Electronic Application for Permanent Residence (e-APR).

Validity of FBI certificate?

There is no expiry date mentioned on FBI certificate as such.

The validity and acceptability of FBI certificate depends on the country you are applying the visa for and your current residence.

Canada & Australia: If you are currently living in USA, then the FBI certificate should have been issued within last 6 months, at the time of submission for Canada ITA or Australia PR.

Is Character certificate same as Police Certificate?

Character Certificates are not same police certificate and are NOT accepted by countries like Canada and Australia for their permanent resident application.

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 verfiication 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 identity@fbi.gov.

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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