How to get FBI Clearance Certificate – Visa Immigration

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta - Updated on  10 May, 19

FBI police clearance certificate
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.

You can apply FBI clearance for Canada permanent residency, USA Green Card or Australia PR using 3 options:

  1. Apply online on FBI Website, pay fees online, mail fingerprints – Cheapest, very good options. Get Certificate in 3-5 days.
  2. Mail FBI application and fees by post – Slowest method takes up-to 14 to 16 weeks.
  3. FBI approved third party agent – 3-4 days Fast processing but most expensive.

#1 Apply Online on FBI Website

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

#A Create FBI Clearance request online FBI Police clearance certificate online request.
Open the link in Mozilla or Internet ExplorerChrome 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.

#B 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
FBI clearance – Enter email to start online application


#C 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
FBI clearance unique link

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


#D Fill Online Application

FBI clearance - Enter personal Information
FBI clearance – Enter personal Information
FBI clearance - Enter mailing address
FBI clearance – Enter mailing address
FBI clearance - Enter preferences
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.

You can also buy FD 258 card from Amazon prime (pack of 3) or pack of 25 FD 258 cards. The fingerprint card needs to be printed on a hard white paper. I recommend buying it from Amazon than printing it at home.

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:

Sample FD-258 form for FBI fingerprints
Sample FD-258 form for FBI fingerprints


#F 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


#G 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.


#H FBI clearance certificate Issue
FBI will then scan your fingerprints to complete your criminal record background check.

You can download the FBI clearance PDF file once available.
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.

#2 FBI Clearance by 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. Get 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 traceable postal mail. Address is mentioned above.
  5. Note: This is the SLOWEST method of getting police verification from FBI.
  6. 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.

#3 FBI Approved Third Party Agents

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 vendors from FBI approved list.
  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.

Validity of FBI certificate?

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

FBI Police Verification at Home Address

There is no physical police verification done by FBI at your home address.

FBI uses your fingerprints to find your criminal records. 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?

You can send multiple cashier check, multiple fingerprint cards and multiple confirmation email copies in single postal mail. This is useful if you are applying FBI certificates for family.

Re-Use Fingerprint Card

The FBI requires a current fingerprint card to process your Identity History Summary. You cannot use any old or already used FD-258 cards.

FBI does not return your fingerprint cards.

SSN Last 4 Digits on FBI report

You can choose to have your SSN last 4 digits printed on FBI report.

You should write full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number on the fingerprint card to have last 4 printed on FBI clearance.

Address Change

You should sign the Address Change Request Form and fax it to (304) 625-9792, or scan the form and e-mail it to to change your address.

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.

Return Envelope

You are not required to send any ‘return shipping’ envelope. FBI takes care of return shipping and mailing.

   83 Useful Questions & Answers from comments

  1. SIVA
    SIVA 18 Sep, 18 at 1:18 pm

    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?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 19 Sep, 18 at 11:36 am

      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.

      • Siva
        Siva 19 Sep, 18 at 12:26 pm

        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

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 19 Sep, 18 at 12:28 pm

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

  2. Breezy Bee
    Breezy Bee 1 Aug, 18 at 1:07 am

    How many copies of FD-258 cards are you supposed to send to the FBI?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 1 Aug, 18 at 7:13 am

      1 copy only.

  3. SJ0710
    SJ0710 31 Jul, 18 at 1:19 pm

    ‘ 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

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 31 Jul, 18 at 1:35 pm

      You can leave it blank as you are doing it yourself.

  4. Anil Gupta
    Anil Gupta 12 Jun, 18 at 7:40 am

    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.

    • Hemant Rawat
      Hemant Rawat 12 Jun, 18 at 2:27 pm

      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.

      • Anil Gupta
        Anil Gupta 12 Jun, 18 at 2:50 pm

        Great. Thanks for sharing the information back. I appreciate it.

  5. Hemant Rawat
    Hemant Rawat 11 Jun, 18 at 10:23 pm

    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?


  6. Hari
    Hari 17 May, 18 at 2:09 pm

    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.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 17 May, 18 at 2:16 pm

      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.

      • Hari
        Hari 17 May, 18 at 3:48 pm

        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?

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 17 May, 18 at 4:24 pm

          That’s okay. Any document issued by FBI is a valid document.

      • Breezy Bee
        Breezy Bee 22 May, 18 at 9:01 am

        Any specific channelers for non citizens/non green card holders?

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 22 May, 18 at 9:08 am

          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.

          • Breezy Bee
            Breezy Bee 22 May, 18 at 11:51 am

            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.

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 22 May, 18 at 12:01 pm

              Will check and reply. Give me some time.

            • Breezy Bee
              Breezy Bee 22 May, 18 at 1:03 pm

              No problem.Take your time and thanks for your response.

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 22 May, 18 at 5:03 pm

              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.

          • Breezy Bee
            Breezy Bee 22 May, 18 at 6:36 pm

            Okay, Thanks

    • Breezy Bee
      Breezy Bee 21 May, 18 at 4:12 pm

      Which channeler did you use?

  7. Camsur
    Camsur 11 May, 18 at 9:01 pm

    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

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 11 May, 18 at 9:06 pm

      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.

  8. Breezy Bee
    Breezy Bee 9 May, 18 at 1:59 pm

    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.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 9 May, 18 at 2:54 pm

      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+.

      • Breezy Bee
        Breezy Bee 9 May, 18 at 3:38 pm

        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.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 9 May, 18 at 3:54 pm

          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).

  9. Yuva
    Yuva 6 May, 18 at 12:28 pm

    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?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 6 May, 18 at 2:35 pm

      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.

  10. SMH
    SMH 3 May, 18 at 8:31 am

    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

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 3 May, 18 at 12:17 pm

      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.

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