Chapter 6 - Required Background Checks

USCIS conducts security and background checks on all applicants for naturalization. Members or former members of the U.S. armed forces applying for naturalization must comply with those requirements. This chapter provides information on specific background checks required of such applicants. This chapter also provides information on the ways service members may meet the fingerprint requirement for naturalization.

A. Defense Clearance Investigative Index (DCII) Query

USCIS must conduct a Defense Clearance Investigative Index (DCII) query with the DOD as part of the background check process on any applicant with military service regardless of the section of law under which he or she is applying for naturalization. The DCII check is valid for 15 months from the initial response. The DCII check should show whether the applicant has any derogatory information in his or her military records. [1] 

B. Fingerprint Requirement and the Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act

USCIS must collect fingerprint records as part of the background check process on most applicants for naturalization. The Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act (KFCAA) mandates USCIS to use enlistment fingerprints or previously submitted USCIS fingerprints to satisfy the fingerprint requirement for service members unless a more efficient method is available.

If DHS determines that new biometrics would “result in more timely and effective adjudication of the individual’s naturalization application,” DHS must inform the applicant of this determination and provide the applicant with information on how to submit fingerprints. [2] 

C. Ways Service Members may Meet Fingerprint Requirement

The table below provides the ways in which a service member may meet the fingerprint requirement for naturalization on the basis of military service. [3] Such applicants may meet the requirement through any of the following ways provided in the table. These procedures aim at USCIS compliance with the KFCAA.

Ways Service Members may Meet Fingerprint Requirement for Naturalization

  • The service member may appear at any stateside USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) for fingerprint capture with or without an appointment
  • The service member may have his or her fingerprints taken by USCIS personnel at select military installations in the United States via mobile fingerprinting equipment
  • USCIS may re-submit the service member’s fingerprints for up-to-date records if such records are on file with USCIS
  • USCIS may acquire and use the service member’s fingerprints taken at the time of enlistment into the military (“OPM fingerprints”)
  • The service member may have his or her fingerprints taken using the FD-258 fingerprint cards at a U.S. military installation (or U.S. embassy or consulate if overseas) 
  • USCIS will accept FD-258 fingerprint cards or comparable DOD fingerprint cards from domestic or overseas military installations (However, fingerprints captured electronically, either at an ASC or through a mobile fingerprinting unit, remain the more advantageous method for both the applicant and USCIS)

USCIS will consider an applicant’s naturalization application to be abandoned and will deny the application for failure to appear for biometrics capture (fingerprinting) [4] if all of the following conditions are true:

  • The NSC is unable to locate the applicant or three days have elapsed from the last day of the time period allotted for the applicant to appear for fingerprinting (as stated on the second ASC appointment notice);

  • The applicant is stationed stateside (and is otherwise able to report to an ASC) and has not submitted FD-258 fingerprint cards;

  • The applicant has not fulfilled the fingerprint requirement; and

  • USCIS has determined that the enlistment fingerprints are unavailable or are unclassifiable.

Any subsequent correspondence from an affected applicant whose application was denied for failure to appear for fingerprinting within one year is considered a Service motion to reopen. [5] USCIS grants the motion and continues with the processing of the naturalization application. USCIS does not deny an application for abandonment for failure to provide fingerprints if USCIS has evidence that the applicant is deployed inside the United States or overseas and is unable to be fingerprinted. 


[^ 1] Previously, a military applicant was required to submit Form G-325B, Biographic Information, which USCIS used to initiate the DCII query. USCIS determined, however, that the information collected on Form N-400 is sufficient to perform the queries and deemed Form G-325B obsolete. As of February 18, 2010, Form G-325B is no longer required for any pending naturalization application.

[^ 2] See the Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-251 (PDF), 122 Stat. 2319.

[^ 3] See INA 328 or INA 329. See 8 CFR 335.2(b).

[^ 4] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(13)(ii).

[^ 5] See 8 CFR 103.5(a)(5).

Current as of July 26, 2021