How Long Does USCIS Background Check Take?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is the federal government agency that administers legal citizenship in the United States.

Once you file your permanent residence or citizenship application, you must undergo the procedures and processes outlined by the USCIS.

Therefore, understanding the whole process is important if you have already filed or are planning to apply.

Once you submit your application, you will receive an acknowledgment notice from the USCIS within 5 to 7 days.

The next step you have to undergo is the biometrics appointment at the nearest local USCIS office. The applicant’s photos, signatures, and fingerprints are recorded at the biometrics appointment.

Once the biometrics appointment is completed, the next step USCIS will take is a background check of the applicants.

If you want to know how long does USCIS background check take, this article is for you. This article will discuss everything you need to know about USCIS Background Checks. So let’s get into it.

What Is USCIS Background Check?

USCIS Background Check doesn’t mean that USCIS has doubts about your history and wants to confirm that you don’t have a criminal record.

It is a routine procedure that every applicant has to undergo when applying for a naturalization or work permit in the United States.

The purpose of background checks is to ensure that most eligible applicants receive immigration benefits in the United States.

It is the responsibility of the USCIS to ensure that no such person is given a permit in the US who can pose a risk or danger to the community and country.

Who Needs To Undergo Background Checks?

If you are worried that the outcome of the background check will always be negative and can deprive you of the immigration benefits in the United States, calm down.

Every criminal conviction doesn’t imply that you will be denied receiving a green card or immigration services.

If you are wondering who needs to undergo a background check by USCIS, here is the answer:

Every person who wants to get immigration to the  United States will have to undergo the process of a background check.

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There is no exception to who can and who has to undergo background checks. There is no exception for anyone based on ethnicity, age, gender, national origin, religion, etc.

No exception is given because this is a matter of national security and the security of the people of the United States.

Therefore USCIS doesn’t offer any leniency or benefit to any individual applying for naturalization.

How Long Does USCIS Background Check Take?

The real question to ask is how long USCIS Background Check can take. Applicants need to know so that they know what to expect and when to expect the process of immigration to get completed. So here is the answer to the question:

There is no fixed timeline for how long the background check will take. It depends on the USCIS field office in the country of the applicant.

If there is a field office in the country of applicants, the background check won’t take much longer. If there is no field office in the country of applicants, there can be delays in background checks.

Generally, the background check process can take around six to eight weights. You will have to wait for 2-3 months until the background check results are announced. In some cases, this time can extend to 12 weeks.

What Is Checked By USCIS During An Applicant’s Background Check?

It is also essential to know how USCIS Background Checks work and what information is checked by the agency. So here is everything you need to know about what is checked by USCIS during an applicant’s background check:


The first thing that USCIS checks are fingerprints. Fingerprints are recorded for processing the naturalization process. Regardless of age, applicants must record their fingerprints during the biometrics appointment.

In the past, USCIS waived the fingerprints requirement for senior citizens above 75 as their fingerprints were difficult to read. However, the waiver was taken back after the electronic processing of captured fingerprints was introduced.

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Once the fingerprints are recorded, the USCIS will submit them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) to run a full criminal background check. It involves checking that there is no administrative or criminal record of the applicant.

The outcome of a fingerprints check can be one of the following:

  1. The applicant has no administrative or a criminal record
  2. The applicant has an administrative or a criminal record
  3. The fingerprints recorded are unclassifiable for conducting a criminal background check and have been rejected.

FBI Name Checks

The second step of the Background Check is the FBI Name check. FBI runs name checks on all the applicants who have applied for naturalization.

All the information in the FBI’s files is checked and provided to USCIS against the name check requests.

The FBI’s National Name Check Program(NNCP) includes the FBI’s Universal Index(UNI) search. The check includes looking for the person’s personal, applicant, administrative and criminal files. The results of the FBI Name Check can be any of the following:

  1. NR(No Record)
  2. PR(Positive Record)

The definitive results of the FBI Name Check are valid for 15 months from the date of the FBI Name Check process date.

Get Your Own Preliminary Background Check

Many experts suggest you run your own preliminary background check before applying for naturalization with USCIS.

It is specifically advisable if you have dealt with police or have something on your criminal record in the past.

Once you run the preliminary background check, you will have a better idea of what the immigration officials will see and what can be the outcome of your naturalization application.

A small criminal record offense won’t hurt your eligibility status to get immigration benefits. However, a better strategy after running a preliminary background check is to refer to your attorney and get the right advice from the experts about what to do next.


What can we do to expedite a background check for I-485?

You can’t do anything to expedite a background check for I-485 or any other application. Experts suggest that it is an internal process of the US government, and they have to go through public databases, law enforcement information, etc.

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Therefore, the normal processing time to access the information can’t be shortened. All you can do is wait for the results.

What are the conditions for fingerprint waivers?

USCIS might grant fingerprint waivers to certain applicants after satisfaction that the applicant is not able to record the fingerprints. The conditions of the waiver are as follows:

  1. The officer has personally met the applicant
  2. The authorized technician has attempted to fingerprint the applicant, but he is unable to record a fingerprint or provide a legible fingerprint

Even if the applicant is unable to provide fingerprints, the waiver can’t be granted if:

  1. Inability is of temporary nature
  2. The applicant has fewer than ten fingers, due to which all fingers can’t be recorded
  3. The officer believes that the fingerprints are unclassifiable

What if my background check shows something negative?

Every negative record doesn’t mean you become ineligible to get immigration to the US. The applicants can request a waiver of inadmissibility for some criminal convictions.

However, convictions of murder, torture, drugs, etc., are not admissible for waivers.

Does USCIS check your work history?

Yes, USCIS also checks the applicant’s work history. Therefore, you must provide the employer with information like the employer’s name, address, the position of the applicant, and starting and ending dates of the job.

Does USCIS check your text messages?

No, USCIS does not check the applicants’ text messages or phone records. The agency doesn’t have the authority and right to go through a person’s phone.

What fails you on a background check?

There can be many reasons why you fail a background check and cannot proceed with the naturalization process.

A criminal record with serious offenses or drug convictions is the most common cause of failing a background check. Fake employment history or educational discrepancies can also result in a failed background check.