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FBI Name Check FAQ

How Long Does it Take to Clear FBI Name Check?

We have seen reports ranging from 1 month to 5 years. The majority of people seem to clear FBI name check within 3 - 6 months.

According to an earlier FBI estimate, 68% of names come back with "No Record" within 48 hours after batch search started. The secondary manual search, usually conducted within 1 - 2 months, identifies additional people as having "No Record." About 10% of name check requests must go through the manual review process which is unpredictable in terms of how long it takes to complete.

Since early 2008, however, USCIS and FBI have been working together to reduce FBI name check backlogs. As of August 2008, pending FBI name checks have sharply declined according to CIS Ombudsman. Check out the critical updates section at the bottom of this page.

Can I Expedite FBI Name Check?

The FBI does speed up processing of a name check if the customer agency requested it. However, the USCIS established new criteria in 2007 on expediting FBI name checks and they are not applicable to most people. Only cases involving military deployment, age-out or sunset provisions, or other compelling situations such as critical medical conditions, are qualified for expedited handling. The new policy doesn't consider how long the name check has been pending, or whether a Writ of Mandamus (WOM) has been filed. A WOM is a lawsuit filed against the government for unreasonable delays.

Is There Premium Processing of FBI Name Checks?

No. Not at this time. We understand many frustrating customers are willing to pay an additional fee to end the painful waiting, but we have not seen any signs of such a plan. We don't think premium processing is the solution, or the right thing to do, but will report any development in this direction as soon as they are available.

However, USCIS has reported that part of the increased immigration fees will be used toward paying the FBI to speed up name check processes.

Does "No Record" from FOIPA Request Mean My Name Check is Cleared?

Unfortunately no. FOIPA (Freedom of Information and Privacy Act) requests only search the "main files," while FBI name check requests check both "main files" and "reference files" in the UNI. A "main" file name refers to an individual who is the subject of an FBI investigation, whereas a "reference" is simply a person whose name appears in an FBI file. In addition, FBI name check also uses different orders (first name, last name) and various combinations during the search.

Does Clearance from FBI Fingerprint Check Mean My Name Check is Cleared?

No. FBI fingerprint check is a completely different process from the FBI name check.

How Do I Check the Status of My Name Check?

FBI's NNCP no longer accepts phone inquires from individuals. Their email address, FBINNCP@ic.fbi.gov, is still open but it will be months before they reply to your message, if ever.

The best approach to check case status on FBI name check is through InfoPass with the USCIS. Additionally, asking your senators, congressmen, or even the first lady Mrs. Laura Bush, may also provide status information. Check our case status page for more information.

Does a Congressional Inquiry Help with My FBI Name Check?

Contacting congressional representatives may not help expedite your name check, but as mentioned above, it may be one of the only remaining channels to learn about your status. The FBI has repeatedly said congressional inquiries only tie up their limited resources, which is true, but can anyone blame a person whose name check has been pending for three years, and there is no other way to find out what is going on?

Why Am I Getting Conflicting Reports on My FBI Name Check Status

Some readers heard back from their Congressional offices, or during InfoPass appointments, that their FBI name checks have been cleared. However, when calling service centers to confirm, they were told NC still pending. There are two possible reasons: one is that USCIS occasionally initiates two or more name check requests for the same person, on the same date. If one of them is cleared, the others will remain in pending and idle status, and do not affect your I-485 processing. So depending on which entry an immigration officer is reading, you may get conflicting reports. The other reason is that the USCIS may not be able to update its database right after receiving results from the FBI. A delay of a few days to weeks is quite normal.

Should I File a Writ of Mandamus (WOM) Against the USCIS?

It is a personal choice, and an expensive one.

In 2005 and 2006, people whose cases had been pending for a long time (usually more than two years) started filing WOM lawsuits to force the USCIS to make a decision, one way or another. Many saw their I-485 applications adjudicated shortly after the law suit, without ever going to court. Those success stories encouraged many more, and a flood of WoM were filed later that year.

In early 2007, USCIS announced a new policy that they would no longer expedite FBI name check in response to a Writ of Mandamus. Instead, they would rather take the case to court. This may be the only choice for the USCIS, because had they left the door open, there could have been hundreds of thousands of law suits filed against them.

However, if you have a straightforward case, it has been pending for two years or more, your priority date is current, and you can afford a few thousand dollars, a Writ of Mandamus may be still worth a shot even if you have to go to court with the USCIS.

Again, each case is different and you should consult a qualified immigration attorney before making an important decision like filing WOM.