U.S. Law Center

How do I get a record clearance for my visa application?

As part of the application process to obtain a U.S. visa, an immigrant may be instructed to get what is called a record clearance. This is basically a background check to show a person's record with law enforcement. If an immigrant has received a traffic ticket or was arrested, this information appears on that record, along with the reasons for the arrest and the resolution of the charges. In California, immigrants can receive their record clearance from the State of California Department of Justice.

There are two ways an applicant seeking a visa can get this record clearance. The first step is to use an electronic process called Live Scan submissions and the other is by submitting a fingerprint card manually through the U.S. post. For the first option, people can simply download a request form and the instructions to fill it out. They can then get fingerprinted at a professional fingerprinting service, such as their local police station. Anyone who chooses this method should be prepared for a fee of up to $32 plus a rolling fee.

The manual option is also a relatively simple one. It requires people to print out their instructions, at which point a blank FD258 fingerprinting card must be obtained from a law enforcement office. The instructions can be used to fill it out, and then the fingerprint can also be taken at the police station. The card should then be sent along with a check or money order to cover the processing fee to the state's DOJ's applicant processing program office.

Though this information should not be taken as legal advice, it is intended to help people understand the process in obtaining their record clearance so that they can then continue with their visa application process.

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