It is no secret that the United States and other countries are dealing with critical issues of security. This is one reason why it is more difficult to come into the country, whether you are visiting or planning on remaining as a permanent resident. Additionally, the process of obtaining a visa or green card is intense and includes thorough background screenings.
You should expect nothing less if you are planning to go through the process of naturalization to become a U.S. citizen. Like all other applicants, you will face a rigorous application procedure that includes an investigation into your background and identity.
Who are you?
Your identity is of primary concern to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and that agency works closely with the FBI during naturalization background checks. Agents will enter your name into two of their digital programs to see if you have a past that includes any criminal behavior or links to groups the government considers dangerous to U.S. citizens.
In addition to the FBI databases, USCIS relies on the science of fingerprinting. You will receive notice of an appointment to give your biometrics at a Colorado Application Support Center. Biometrics is a collective word for your photograph, fingerprints and digital signature.
In past years, the USCIS collected fingerprints only from those who were younger than 75. This is because the technology did not exist to capture a readable fingerprint from older hands whose prints had worn down. New digital capabilities allow for more accurate capture of the faint patterns on aging hands. Therefore, even if you are over the age of 75, you will likely have to report to your biometrics appointment for fingerprinting.
Failing to show up for your biometrics appointments or to notify the USCIS of your reasons for missing the appointment will terminate your application for naturalization. However, once you have submitted to the fingerprint process, the FBI will keep them in its database for 15 months. Once the FBI has all your biometrics, it will complete its background check and confirm one of the following:
- You have criminal or administrative violations on your record.
- Your fingerprints were unreadable and therefore rejected.
- You have no record of criminal activity that would prevent you from becoming a U.S. citizen.
There are certain conditions under which the fingerprint requirement will be waived, for example if you have a medical condition or physical deformity that prevents authorities from obtaining a readable print. In such cases, you will need to request clearance letters from Colorado police vouching for your good moral character.