Criminal Background Check Process

The steps you’ll need to take to get your criminal background check are:

  1. Get fingerprinted
  2. Fill our application and print out – include note to have it authenticated
  3. Fulfill your chosen method of payment
  4. Mail off to FBI
  5. Wait

If you are running really low on time or have had your fingerprints rejected more than 3 times see this post and see what extreme steps you can try to get accepted.


You can do this at any police department for about $10. Some places could be more expensive because they have an electronic fingerprint-er but if you’re just doing a paper one you’re probably getting ripped off if its not about $10. Some places may also charge you for the fingerprint card itself, about 50 cents. Those who are in college or who have a college nearby have the option of going into your campus police department. They shouldn’t be too busy in the middle of the day/early morning and should be cheaper.

The FBI has their own fingerprinting card you can print off. HOWEVER you may want to do the card as our fingerprints both showed up way better on the official card than they did on the one we printed out. What we would recommend is print off one fingerprint card online and use one official fingerprinting card (standard form). This way, if your prints are too dark or are messed up you have a backup set and don’t have to resubmit and wait all over again.

You can fill in the fingerprint sheet some if you would like before hand but be careful. The height is not “5’7” but “507” 6 feet would be “600.” Also there are acronyms for eye/hair color, we only know the BRO one.

When being fingerprinted try to relax and let him or her apply the correct amount of pressure or turning. By adding your own pressure you can darken the print some.

Fill Out the Application

Online you will want to click the link to “submit your request directly to the FBI” from there you could/should read over  this info if you have any specific questions. Click on “Application Information Form”  (this link may not work here) then you’ll see this:

Screen shot 2013-01-29 at 1.09.30 PM

You can pick “other” as you are requesting yours to work abroad/foreign visa. Which is what you’ll put on your form later. If you pick “other” you’ll be brought to a small sheet that will tell you you may need to get a background check through your own state at the bottom it says you can continue onto the form.

If you’re given the option, you may as well fill it out on the computer then print it off and sign it.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART besides spelling your name right or something is to put your need for authentication on it.

Under reason for request type or write “Foreign visa, please authenticate for apostile” or something along those lines.


At the bottom we also wrote out our need clearer “I need the FBI Seal and signature of a division official on my background check so I can get it authenticated.”

At which point we highlighted it twice. Other people have added sticky notes or other papers to continue to reinforce this need but we just highlighted ours here.


Here’s what the actual site says.

  • Option 1: Obtain a money order or cashier’s check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure to sign where required.
  • Option 2: Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form. Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.
  • Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted.
  • Payment must be for the exact amount.
  • If the request is for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person.
  • If the request is for multiple copies per person, include $18 for each copy requested.

Some have recommended completing the credit card form, this way when the have processed yours they will charge your card and you will know when to start expecting it in the mail.

Mail it Off 

The size everyone has been saying to use is the USPS Flat Rate Legal Envelopes which you can pick up for free at the post office or can order a minimum of 10 to be delivered to your house for free. (click here if you want that)

Will you need 1o? You might. You’ll need 2 for the fingerprints, 2 for the apostille, probably at least one or two for the visa, maybe some to and from Korea (although they don’t want you to use USPS) Even with all those maybes in there, you’re looking at maybe needing 6.

It doesn’t matter if you have 10 shipped to your house or just  pick some up at the post office: this is the size you want, this is the cheapest you can ship in the country.

Envelope 1 (prepaid envelope): Put your return address on it and fold it in half. At the post office and tell them you need one pre-paid one inside of the envelope you’re sending. They put exactly $5.15 in stamps on the outside of our envelope.

Envelope 2: Put (1) the credit card form or money order, (2) your finger print cards (3) your completed FBI application, and  (4) your folded prepaid envelope inside of this envelope. Seal and address to:

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

Pay for this second envelope, ours was for $5.60 for a total of $11.20.
The FBI says it can take 5-6 weeks to process. Your reciept will have a tracking number on it, you can at least see how long it takes to get there, from then wait a few weeks then check your credit card to see if it has been charged.

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