How To Get An FBI Background Check

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There are a number of reasons why you would need an FBI background check, also called a criminal record check (CRC) depending on which country you’re coming from. For this post, we’re assuming that you need it for a job. Whether you’re getting a job at home or traveling abroad for work, at some point, you’ll likely have to sign a paper for a company to do a background check on your behalf or you’ll have to get one yourself. One of the most time-involved documents to get for the South Korean E2 teaching visa, besides the apostille, is obtaining a national-level FBI background check. The FBI background check is proof that you have not been convicted of any crimes and you’ll need this to get a visa. Whether you’re already in Korea and trying to get an FBI background check from overseas or you’re still in the States and need to get an FBI background check, this guide will help you sort the system.

background check

Feel free to skip around to the situation that is pertinent to you:

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What is an E2 visa and who can get it?

To teach in South Korea for the public school system or a hagwon (private academy) you are required to have an E2 teaching visa that is valid for approximately 1 year. This type of visa is issued to all foreign language instructors not just English teachers which is often misstated. Japanese teachers, French teachers, etc. also need to apply and receive the E2 visa in order to teach in South Korea. Which ever language you’re applying for though comes with other requirements. For teaching English in Korea, applicants must come from one of seven officially recognized English-speaking countries including New Zealand, Australia, UK, Republic of Ireland, Canada, South Africa, and The United States of America. Whichever language you’re going for, you must basically prove via your passport that you’re a native speaker of that language.


What documents do I need for my E2 visa?

In my post “Teach English in Korea: A Guide For Getting A Job” I detailed the benefits of teaching in Korea as well as ways to find jobs in Korea and how the interview process goes, etc. There’s also a list of the documents you need to get your visa to teach in Korea. Remember, these documents include:

  • A copy of your resume
  • A color photocopy of the information page of your passport
  • 8 color, passport-style photos (4 for the visa and save 4 for when you come to Korea)
  • An apostille copy of your bachelor’s degree in any field (the only way you can be eligible for an E2 visa. If you’re in the process of getting your degree or only have an associates, you are not eligible)
  • A signed copy of your contract with the public school or hagwon
  • Apostilled FBI background check
  • Health check statement (self- check questionnaire asking if you have mental disorders, asthma etc.)

Will I be denied an E2 visa if something shows up on my FBI background check?

If you have been convicted for traffic violations such as reckless driving, speeding, or accidents, that won’t affect your application. However, if you have been charged with more serious things like a felony or a misdemeanor where you faced jail time, the visa application will very likely be denied.


How long are FBI background checks good for?

Background checks must have been issued within three months of the applicant’s visa application date. If criminal checks are older than three months, they will not be accepted.


How Long Does It Take To Get An FBI Background Check?

The process to get your FBI background check will be the same but the wait time can vary for a variety of reasons but the biggest being whether you’re back home getting it or if you’re abroad. In the States, there have been waits of upwards of 3 to 4 months at times. There are services that can help drastically reduce this time if you go through them however, so if you are in a pinch and need it quick or forgot you needed this, look into one of the services to help you along. When going through third party providers, make sure you check on the specifics of what your country allows and what Korea will accept. Currently, the Korean immigration does not accept CRCs from third party providers however they will accept them for certain companies that do the American FBI background checks and they can take just a week! Make sure you check what the Korean immigration service currently accepts from your country.

While the FBI does not allow expedite requests, there are some approved FBI channelers that can handle the entire application process from start to finish for an additional fee and they are usually faster. The fees aren’t exorbitant so if you’re in a bind or didn’t realize how long it’d take, look into them. FBI Channelers to look into include: Accurate Biometrics, ID Vetting, MyFBIReport, and National Background Check.


How To Get An FBI Background Check While In The US


Step 1: Get The Forms

First, you need to obtain the necessary forms for your visa background check. You can find the PDF versions of both forms below:

  1. The Application Form can be found on AccurateBiometrics.com here.
  2. The Applicant Fingerprint Form can be found on FBI.gov here.

The first form is for you to fill out your personal information as well as contact information to send your results. Print this out and take it with you to your appointment. I highly suggest in the section for receiving your results to request an electronic version. This is sufficient enough for the E2 teaching visa. It is also much faster than waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

The second form is for your actual fingerprints. This is for the fingerprinting facilities use only. Be sure to print  two copies of this form on heavy card stock, as the FBI requires it. On rare occasions, fingerprints can get smudged or there might be oils on your fingers. So, the system may not process the prints correctly. A backup copy will ensure that there are no issues during the process. Also note that many precincts already have this form and will want to use theirs. Take some copies in case, but you might also not need them.

Step 2: Get Your Fingerprints Taken

fingerprint

You need to get your fingerprints done at your local police station or a facility that has the equipment necessary to do so. Depending on where you live and how busy your local police station may be, it might be faster to go to a fingerprint center. I suggest calling your local police station and asking. Either way, fingerprints must be taken by a fingerprint technician on FD-258 fingerprint cards on standard white paper stock. The fingerprints must include both rolled impressions and flat impressions of all 10 of your fingers.

When I did this, it went through a company called Fast Finger Prints. This facility provides services for all level background checks. They have locations all over the United States. I suggest you make an appointment to get it done fast and efficiently as some facilities are busier than others. Also, make sure that you bring the forms that I mentioned in step 1 with you. The cost for the fingerprints is $50, and you can either do cash or debit/credit card, but checks are not accepted if I remember correctly.

Step 3: Send In Your Fingerprints

Option 1: Next, you need to mail and seal the completed fingerprint cards with the application and the payment along with the payment form to an FBI office in the US. The $18.00 fee must be paid by certified check or money order. Personal checks are not allowed and they must be accompanied with that payment form.

You can mail in your application and finger prints to:

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

To fax your fingerprints to the FBI headquarters in West Virginia. The facility that I went to did it for me. From here, you have to wait around 1 week for your results. If you checked off to get your results mailed to you, I’d give it around 1 week and three or four days to get the results. If you requested them in a pdf like I did, the FBI will send you an email with a link provided. Click on that link, which will give instructions because the results are password protected. When you make your password (it’s a combination of your SSN and birthdate), you will have access to the results. Download the document as soon as you open it, because it expires. After you save it, print it out, and you can move onto the next step of getting your visa documents apostilled. REMEMBER: The document will not be accepted without an apostille which you’ll have to obtain next.

Option 2: Go through a service like Accurate Biometrics which is an FBI approved channeler that can offer an expedited service. This will cost a bit more, but it’s not exorbitant and you’ll get your paperwork back MUCH faster. For a full list of FBI-Approved Channelers, check out this list on the FBI.gov website.


How To Get An FBI Background Check in Korea

There are a variety of reasons that you may need to get an FBI background check from your home country once you’re already in Korea. Maybe you signed a contract with a different country or switched schools. Whatever the reason, here is the step-by-step guide to get an FBI background check in Korea.


Step 1: Get The Forms

Same as if you’re in the States, first, you need to obtain the necessary forms for your background check. You can find the PDF versions of both forms below:

  1. The Application Form can be found on AccurateBiometrics.com here.
  2. The Applicant Fingerprint Form can be found on FBI.gov here.

The first form is for you to fill out your personal information as well as contact information to send your results. Note that results can’t be sent abroad and they can’t be sent to a commercial business address so you’ll need to have them sent to a family member, approved channeler, or a designated attorney. I highly suggest in the section for receiving your results to request an original FBI background check in secured PDF format. This is sufficient enough for the E2 teaching visa. It is also much faster than waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

The second form is for your actual fingerprints. This is for the fingerprinting facilities use only. Be sure to print  two copies of this form on heavy card stock, as the FBI requires it. On rare occasions, fingerprints can get smudged or there might be oils on your fingers. So, the system may not process the prints correctly. A backup copy will ensure that there are no issues during the process.

Step 2: Get Your Fingerprints Taken

Note that the American Embassy in Seoul does NOT provide fingerprinting services as most/all embassies abroad do not anymore. However, you don’t need them to because you can get fingerprints done at your local district police station. You can’t just go to any police station, it needs to be your district police station which are the larger main ones. In Mapo-gu, for example, you can find the district police station near Gongdeok Subway Station. A list of the district police stations for each district in Seoul can be found here.

Once in the main police station, you need to find the Foreign Affairs Department (보안과 외사계). They will help you to get your fingerprints and then they’ll stamp the copy to make it official. It all happens rather quickly and painlessly so you don’t need to wait around to much.

Step 3: Send In Your Fingerprints

Next, you need to mail and seal the completed fingerprint cards with the application and the payment along with the payment form to an FBI office in the US. The $18.00 fee must be paid by certified check or money order. Personal checks are not allowed and they must be accompanied with that payment form.

You can mail in your application and finger prints to:

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

Remember to request the electronic version because it’s much quicker. As soon as you receive the results via email, you can now apply for the apostille. Be Aware: You can only download the results in the email ONE TIME.

Option 2: Same as above, if you’re in a rush, remember that sending it in yourself will take longer while going through a service a service like Accurate Biometrics which is an FBI approved channeler that can offer an expedited service will be faster. This will cost a bit more, but it’s not exorbitant and you’ll get your paperwork back MUCH faster. For a full list of FBI-Approved Channelers, check out this list on the FBI.gov website.


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