Background and Security Checks

Aliens applying for an adjustment of status (AOS) are required to undergo background and security checks, which serve to ensure that permanent resident status is not granted to a criminal, terrorist, or otherwise nefarious actor. These checks typically occur after an AOS applicant submits fingerprints, photographs, and signature at a biometrics appointment set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


For certain petitions—including those to adjust status, re-enter the United States, and become a naturalized U.S. citizen—an applicant’s fingerprints are obtained, in part, for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check. For most applicants, USCIS charges a set biometrics fee (currently $85 per person) at the time of filing. To confirm whether or not you must be fingerprinted as a part of your petition, refer to the instructions on your immigration petition form.

Importantly, AOS applicants should not submit a completed fingerprint card, FD-258, on their own. Doing so will result in their AOS application being rejected. Instead, upon receipt of an AOS application with correct fees, USCIS will send applicants an appointment letter, which will list the time, date, and location where they will be fingerprinted. Applicants should ensure they carefully read the instructions in the appointment letter, and take it with them when they attend the appointment.

Background Check: National Name Check Program

In addition to security checks conducted using an applicant’s fingerprints, USCIS requires criminal background checks conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through its National Name Check Program (NNCP) for individuals applying for the following immigration benefits:

  • Asylum
  • Adjustment of Status
  • Naturalization
  • Cancellation of removal
  • Withholding of removal
  • Waivers

Similar to fingerprint screenings, the purpose of NNCP background checks is to protect the United States from espionage and terrorism. To arrive at their findings, NNCP collects and cross-references records from U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In total, USCIS requests nearly half of all checks made through NNCP. For most requests, name checks on AOS applicants are returned to USCIS as having “no record” within three days of original submission.

Our Firm is Here to Help

Given the often complicated process and the high stakes—a chance at permanent residency in the United States—involved, it’s imperative that aliens seeking adjustment consult with an experienced immigration attorney. To begin your potential AOS case, contact Zhang & Associates for an initial free consultation by clicking here.

For more detailed information on adjustment of status, including related issues, refer to the following links:

General AOS Topics

Further Reading on AOS


Updated 08/10/2017