How long will it take for my name check to be completed?
length of time it takes for a name check to be completed
varies from name to name. Normally, a name is submitted
by an agency, such as the United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS), on a data tape. Currently, the National
Name Check Program (NNCP) receives over 75,000 name checks
every week, with about 45 percent coming from USCIS. When a data tape comes in, the names on the tape
are electronically checked against the Federal Bureau of
Investigation's Universal Index (UNI). The searches seek
all instances of the individual's name appearing in both
main files and reference files. A main file name is that
of an individual who is, himself/herself, the subject of
an FBI investigation, whereas a reference is someone whose
name appears in an FBI investigation. References may be
associates, conspirators, or witnesses.
majority of name checks submitted on a data tape are electronically
checked and returned to the submitting agency as having
"No Record" within 48-72 hours. A "No Record"
indicates that the FBI's UNI database contains no identifiable
information regarding a particular individual. Duplicate
submissions (i.e., identically spelled names with identical
dates of birth submitted within the last 120 days) are not
checked, and the duplicate findings are returned immediately
to the submitting agency.
secondary manual name search conducted within 30-60 days
usually identifies additional requests as having a "No
Record." The remaining name checks (usually about 10%
of the name checks originally submitted) are identified
as possibly being the subject of an FBI record. At that
point, the FBI record must be retrieved and reviewed. If
the record is available in the FBI's electronic record keeping
system, it can be reviewed quickly. If not, the relevant
information must be retrieved from an existing paper record.
Review of this information determines whether the information
is positively identified with the name check request. If
the information is not identified with the request, the
request is closed as a "No Record," and the requesting
agency is notified as such.
average time required to retrieve and review an FBI record
for possible information related to a name check request
is case specific—it depends on the number of files
an analyst must obtain (which is dictated by the number
of "hits" on a name), the location and availability
of those files, and the amount of information contained
in a file. If a file is stored locally, an analyst will
be able to obtain the file within a matter of days. If a
file is located in a field office or other FBI location,
the applicable information must be requested from that location.
There are over 265 different FBI locations that could house
information pertinent to a name check request. If a file
is electronically available, an analyst will have immediate
access to that file. Additionally, once an analyst receives
the file, or the pertinent information contained in a file,
the analyst must review it for possible information related
to the name check request.
times, the delay associated with the processing of the remaining
name checks is not the actual time it takes to process a
name check, but the time it takes for an analyst to get
to the name check request in order to process it. This is
due to the constant volume of name checks, several million
each year, combined with the FBI's current work on processing
residual name checks from a batch of 2.7 million requests
submitted by USCIS in December 2002, as compared to the
NNCP's limited resources. Less than one percent of the requests
are identified with a file containing possible derogatory
information. If applicable, the FBI then forwards a summary
of the derogatory information to the requesting agency.
It is important to note that the FBI does not adjudicate
the name check requests, but only provides available information
to a requesting agency for its adjudication process.
can I have my name check expedited?
FBI tries to process its oldest name checks first. Customer
agencies will occasionally request expedited handling of
specific name checks. Criteria used to determine which name
checks receive expedited handling are internal matters of
each customer agency. The FBI does request that the number
of expedited cases be kept to a minimum in fairness to the
other pending name check requests. Because each customer
agency determines which name checks are expedited, contacting
Congressional representatives, the FBI's Office of Congressional
Affairs, or the NNCP will only further tie up vital resources
and will not contribute to the expediting of a name
contacting my Congressional representative expedite my name
the customer agency determines expedited handling. The FBI's
policy is to be responsive to our customer's needs given
the limits of our resources. Re-prioritization from multiple
sources would convolute the customer agency's ability to
manage their priority cases.
there a fee I can pay to expedite the process?
Processing times are a function of the volume of work versus
the resources that can be applied to the task. Paying an
additional fee would not speed up the name check process.
am aware that some name checks have been completed that
were submitted to the FBI after cases that remain
pending. Why are the name checks not handled in the order
in which they are received?
vast majority of name check requests are completed in less
than 60 days. Of those remaining, the FBI tries to complete
the oldest name checks first. The time to complete any given
name check varies. There are many factors that impact processing
times such as the number of files to retrieve and review,
a file's location and accessibility, case status, and workload
all impact processing times. Another factor that might delay
the processing of a name check request on a first in/first
out basis is the number of requests for expedited handling
received from a customer agency.
Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request to the FBI resulted
in a "no record" response. Given that, why is
my name check request still pending?
of Information and Privacy Acts (FOIPA) requests are sometimes
confused with name check requests. FOIPA provides copies
of FBI files relevant to a specific FOIPA request. For FOIPA,
the FBI search uses the name or information as provided
in the FOIPA request. A FOIPA search determines whether
there is an investigative file associated with an individual—a
"main file" search. For a name check, "main
files" and "reference files" are both checked,
in an effort to protect our national security, in addition
to searching a name in a multitude of combinations.
can I call to check on the status of my name check?
FBI will only respond to status inquiries from its customer
agencies. Please contact the organization receiving your
original application. In Citizenship and Immigration cases,
contact USCIS for the status.