Q&A Regarding Background Investigations
There is no “typical” background investigation process. Each applicant is unique in terms of life experiences and background. Factors that influence the length of the clearance process include the speed and comprehensiveness with which an applicant fills out the required paperwork, and the location and number of investigative interviews required (e.g., a person with several prior employers and residences will likely take longer to investigate than a person with only one prior residence or employer).
All USCIS employees are subject to background investigations so that security and suitability determinations can be made regarding an employee's continued service to USCIS. The type of background investigation conducted depends on the sensitivity level of the position occupied.
Applicants are required to complete security forms which include questions regarding illegal drug use, financial delinquencies, employment history, residences, education, police record, alcohol use and counseling, among other things. The applicant must also provide his/her fingerprints.
As part of the investigation an investigator interviews and/or checks references, close personal associates, spouse, former spouse(s), former employers, co-workers, neighbors, landlords, institutions of higher learning, credit history, military records, tax and police records. The level of investigation is commensurate with the sensitivity level of the position.
Current federal employees selected for a USCIS position will be approved to transfer upon certification of current background investigation and clearance information, receipt of a complete security package and necessary suitability review. A new investigation will only be required if the prior investigation was not completed within the last five years, not at the adequate level for the position, or if derogatory information is identified since the last investigation was completed.