What USCIS does and what is the background check

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service ( USCIS ) is the federal agency responsible for managing all legal immigration procedures.

All legal migrants must file with the USCIS, as do American citizens who want to request a relative’s papers.

For this reason, it is essential to know what procedures USCIS deals with, where its offices are located, how to contact them for information, and, finally, what the criminal background check is carried out ( in English). This agency and how to find out what this agency knows about each migrant.


What does USCIS do, and what are the waiting times in its procedures

USCIS handles a wide variety of issues. For example, the body studies and approves or denies applications for a permanent residence card, known as a green card, at a family member or a company’s request.


USCIS handles applications for the acquisition of US citizenship by naturalization or the approval of temporary work visas.

It is also within the powers of USCIS to approve work permits (EADs), special programs for the protection of migrants such as, for example, VAWA for victims of domestic violence, TPS, for citizens of countries in a situation of a humanitarian catastrophe, or DACA, for undocumented youth who came to the United States as children.


USCIS operates the e-verify program to determine that a person is legally authorized to work in the United States.

Finally, among other frequent procedures, the management of affirmative asylum cases, international adoption cases, and advance parole requests, to allow them to leave the United States and return without problems, stand out.

Regarding the delay time for USCIS to approve or deny a procedure, it must be clearly stated that there is no single answer, as it depends on the type of procedure. Approximate times can be verified on its official website once the center manages the process and the name of the document of the kind of petition or application is known. For example, I-130 in the case of petitions from a relative, N-600 for naturalization, etc.

In any case, it is necessary to highlight that if it is a family petition where there is a limit of applications that can be approved per fiscal year, as is the case of all resident petitions or citizen petitions for children over 21 years or married or for his brothers, we have to wait for more. You have to wait until there is a quota, for which it is more indicative of checking the dates published by the State Department each month in the Visa Bulletin.


Regarding the procedures that are carried out with USCIS, it should be remembered that all official forms are free and can be downloaded from its official website, even admitting e-file cases.

Also, it is possible to request an exemption for not paying the case’s fee in some instances. Likewise, it must be emphasized that all documents that are presented in Spanish, such as birth or marriage certificates, must be accompanied by an English translation, which must be certified.

Finally, keep in mind that when the USCIS denies a petition, it is possible to appeal it in some cases.


USCIS offices and how to get information

Today, USCIS has more than 19,000 employees spread over approximately 200 offices, some of which are located outside the United States. From an organic point of view, the USCIS belongs to the Department of Homeland Security, known in English by its acronym DHS.


The important thing is to send the forms and supporting documentation to the correct address, which will depend on two factors: the type of application and the place you usually reside. All the forms specify this point, and a distinction is also made according to the type of shipment: ordinary or express.

It is also possible to request information from the USCIS. If it is general, you can go to one of its local offices with customer service, although it is recommended that undocumented migrants abstain from this. Another option to not wait is to make an appointment through the INFOPASS system. Suppose the question you want to ask is about a specific case. In that case, you can dial USCIS at 1-800-375-5283, for which it is necessary to have the case number at hand, which can be found in the letter in which USCIS notifies that you have received the papers for a petition or application. Likewise, with this information, it is possible to obtain information via the Internet.


What does the USCIS criminal background check consist of?

To carry out the paperwork, USCIS frequently asks for biometric data, such as a photo and fingerprints of the person for whom an immigration benefit is requested.

These data are used to verify the possible criminal record of a person. It is what is known in English as a background check. This consists of checking the fingerprints with other federal agencies’ databases and sending them to the FBI to determine if the person requesting the immigration benefit has been arrested or detained in the past and, if so, the cause.


Also, biographical information is sent to another department of the FBI to carry out name verification to determine if the person is a criminal, suspected, or considered a risk to the United States’ security.

Anyone with a current or past file at USCIS who wants to know what it contains can request such information through what is known as FOIA. The form to fill out is G-639. The address to which it should be sent is:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

National Records Center, FOIA / PA Office

P.O. Box 648010

Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010


How to avoid problems with USCIS and fraud

It is essential to fill out the petition forms well and send the supporting documentation on immigration matters. It is unnecessary to use a lawyer’s services, but it is recommended, particularly in unclear cases, and may lead to interpretation. 

Data on good immigration lawyers can be obtained from the AILA database. It is also recommended to check a lawyer’s reputation with the state BAR (bar association). Finally, information can also be obtained for good references or pro bono lawyers in associations to defend the legal interests of migrants.

So-called notaries, who cannot practice as lawyers in the United States, and all people who promise results because they supposedly know someone within USCIS should be distrusted. Those cases are scams.

Finally, USCIS is not dedicated to trying immigration cases since that is the courts’ jurisdiction and the Board of Appeals (BIA). It also does not deal with arrests or deportations or guarding the border, ICE and CBP’s responsibility.


Fingerprint-based background investigation

  • The validity period of your fingerprint check will be noted on your Approval Notice (I-171H or I-797). Your fingerprints never “expire,” but the validity period of the background check and clearance based on obtaining your fingerprints is 15 months. 
  • The validity period of your fingerprint check may be different from the validity period shown on your Form I-600A, Request for Advance Processing of a Petition for an Orphan, or your Form I-800A, Request to Determine Eligibility for adopt a child from a country with an agreement.   
  • If the validity of your fingerprints has expired, we will have to retake your fingerprints.

Your fingerprint approval must be in effect when your Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as a Direct Relative or your Form I-800, Petition to Classify an Adopted Under Agreement as a Direct Family Member, are being processed; regardless of whether your Form I-600A or I-800A Approval Notice is still valid.


The Statement in Conclusion

From now on, you know the response to “What kind of background control is the USCIS doing?”. When you are holding no criminal records, you don’t have anything to think about there. And if you do so, your immigration application won’t always be harmful to you. When you’re interested, get a preview done to know exactly what you’re dealing with and how your initial context search can solve it.




What if I have a criminal history?

In general, if you have a criminal history, it is advisable to obtain legal assistance during applying for a green card through marriage. A lawyer can help make sure that you are disclosing your criminal record in the right areas of the application.

USCIS’s primary purpose in verifying photographs and fingerprints against the FBI database is not necessarily to deny green card applications for everyone with a criminal record, but rather to ensure that applicants have accurately disclosed their criminal records.

That being said, some types of criminal records could make an applicant ineligible for a marital green card.


Why did I get a second biometric services appointment notification?

Although you may be called for a second biometric services appointment, this generally does not indicate that you have committed any wrongdoing or that your request will be denied.

Here are two common reasons applicants should attend a second biometric services appointment:

  • Fingerprints were stained or could not be used. If this occurs or any other error that prevents the use of the fingerprints, photograph, or signature you provided during the appointment, you will need to go to a second biometric services appointment.
  • Your biometrics expired before your application will be processed. Biometrics and associated background checks are valid for 15 months. If USCIS has taken longer than that to process your application for a green card through marriage, it will have to obtain your biometrics a second time.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the biometric services appointment: USCIS will deny your application for permanent residence if you miss the appointment and not reschedule in advance.

But if you plan, your biometric services appointment should be a quick and easy step to obtaining your matrimonial green card.


Can I reschedule my biometric services appointment?

You can reschedule the biometric services appointment, but it is generally not a good idea to do so unless necessary, and rescheduling twice is something to avoid. Your green card application will not be denied just for requesting to reschedule your biometric services appointment. Still, you will be rejected if you do not obtain your fingerprints and photographs promptly.

If something urgent or unexpected comes up, you can submit a written request to reschedule your appointment. The appointment notice includes specific instructions on where this written request should be sent. In most cases, the biometric services appointment will be rescheduled within 3-8 weeks after your request is received.

Since you will not select a specific date and time that are helpful to you, it is a good idea to plan to be flexible within two to three months immediately after submitting your application.