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A green card applicant must go through several steps in order to obtain permanent residency, citizenship, or employment in the United States of America. As part of this process, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) conducts a background check.
This step can be confusing, particularly if you don’t know what information is required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Are you wondering how to make your petition as seamless as possible? Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, can help. We will answer your questions about the immigration process and the green card background check.
A green card background check is a process where the FBI looks into an individual’s past to determine whether they are eligible to receive lawful permanent resident status. This involves a thorough review of the applicant’s criminal and immigration background as well as any prior arrests.
The FBI checks your identity, criminal records, immigration status, and arrests. It also collects your fingerprints and runs a “name check” to ensure that no law enforcement concerns exist. The purpose of the green card background check is to ensure that only individuals who are eligible for lawful permanent resident status receive it.
During the green card background check, USCIS focuses on the applicant’s eligibility for the immigration benefit they are seeking. In particular, USCIS looks for evidence of:
Unlawful presence in the U.S.;
Illegal drug involvement crimes, domestic violence, or other crimes;
Misrepresentation of applications;
Membership in subversive organizations and
Other law enforcement concerns.
If you have been convicted of certain criminal offenses or have any drug convictions, you will automatically be disqualified from getting a green card. USCIS also looks into any issues that could indicate national security concerns.
Background checks are required for many reasons. The first reason is to ensure that the USCIS does not allow people who pose a threat to United States citizens.
Secondly, it is essential to ensure that immigration benefits go to the right people (eligible applicants only). The scrutiny you’ll undergo will depend on the immigration benefit and the type of application.
The background check is customary for anyone looking for permanent residence or citizenship in the U.S. There is no shortcut. Regardless of your religion, national origin, ethnicity, or age, you will be subjected to a national security and criminal background check when applying for an immigration benefit.
Some foreign nationals applying for permanent residency try to apply to obtain a green card without leaving the United States. In such cases, the application for an adjustment of status (AOS) may require a USCIS background check.
An immigration lawyer well-versed in U.S. citizenship and Immigration services and laws and green card application requirements and procedures can help you in the filing process. Contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorney at Law, now!
The background check process has three significant steps. You must pass all successfully, or you won’t be able to get a visa interview. These are:
Also known as IBIS (Interagency Border Inspection System) review, this step involves national security background checks using a centralized system with data from multiple system interfaces, databases, and agencies to compile information relating to national security risks and public safety concerns.
The USCIS will carry out a biometrics service appointment, during which your fingerprints will be taken and sent for FBI fingerprint checks in the FBI’s universal index. This check usually takes about 24 to 48 hours, revealing any criminal record you may have in the United States. To pass this step, the USCIS must be satisfied that you don’t have any criminal record.
Once the FBI has processed your fingerprints, you have 15 months to present yourself for your biometrics appointment. If you fail to show up without a good reason, the USCIS will assume you have abandoned your application.
This step involves a nationwide search of USCIS databases, the government’s watch list, and other intelligence sources in order to determine if the applicant is or has ever been a threat to national security. The result of this check will be used to determine whether or not you qualify for the immigration benefit you are seeking.
If any of these checks return a negative result, your green card application may be denied. The USCIS may also refer your case to the Department of Homeland Security for a more comprehensive investigation.
Background and criminal record checks for a U.S. green card can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to complete. If your green card application is successful, the USCIS will typically send your green card about six months after your interview. You can use the USCIS online tool to check your case status.
Some background investigations are conducted on the sponsor instead of the applicant when a green card application is being processed. A sponsor background check is usually done in family-based visa applications, where a sponsor is required for green card applications. Green card applicants must be sponsored by lawful permanent residents or citizens of the United States.
You cannot sponsor a green card candidate if you are found to have committed any of the following aggravated felonies against a minor during the background check:
If you are unsure if you are eligible to sponsor persons applying for green cards, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney such as Andrew T. Thomas.
Once you acquire permanent resident status in the U.S., you have the right to own a gun, just like every other citizen. However, you still must undergo a background check with the NICS, the FBI’s national system for firearms checks, to determine your eligibility. If something unusual occurs in your background check, the NICS may delay your case to verify with the USCIS that you are not a “possible prohibitor.”
The delay should not take more than two hours. Under federal law, you can take the firearm with you if the NICS does not clear up the issue in three business days, according to the “Default Proceed” rule (if the gun shop is okay with it). To learn more about this, contact an attorney.
There is a difference between the FBI Fingerprint check and the FBI name check. The National Name Check Program (NNCP) in Washington conducts FBI name checks. They check your name against multiple databases of known suspects or criminals to check whether you are on the list. This check includes all sorts of files assembled by law enforcement, whether personnel, criminal, applicant, or administrative.
Due to large backlogs, this check can take up to a year to complete, even though it’s only supposed to take a couple of weeks. Your green card application may proceed if the NNCP does not find any match.
Green Card background checks primarily focus on an applicant’s criminal history and compliance with immigration law rather than financial history. They are conducted to ensure the applicant poses no security threat and has adhered to U.S. laws.
However, certain financial crimes, such as money laundering, are of interest to immigration authorities as they can be linked to criminal activities.
While a typical immigration background check does not delve deeply into financial records like credit scores or personal debts, serious financial-related criminal convictions can impact the application.
Law enforcement agencies, both federal and local, collaborate to uncover any criminal convictions, including those related to financial crimes, that might disqualify an applicant from receiving a Green Card.
Past immigration violations can significantly affect Green Card background checks. The checks are thorough investigations conducted by different law enforcement agencies, coordinated through the local application support center, and are designed to flag any previous breaches of immigration law.
Such violations include overstaying a visa, working without authorization, or previous deportations. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, certain immigration violations can lead to ineligibility for a Green Card.
For example, only one drug conviction can result in a denied application, demonstrating the stringent nature of these checks. However, not all violations have the same weight, and some may be excused depending on individual circumstances, including the length of unlawful presence or familial ties to a U.S. citizen.
Ultimately, immigration background checks work to ensure that applicants meet all eligibility criteria, with particular scrutiny on any past actions that contravene U.S. immigration laws.
A lawyer from Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, can assist you with various immigration matters, such as obtaining green cards, work permits, visas, and naturalization. In addition to submitting your USCIS documents and forms, we can assist you with preparing for your USCIS interview. Our team can help you appeal removal proceedings to the Immigration Court as well as assist you with removal proceedings.
Contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, to speak with a seasoned naturalization lawyer now!