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eckoin

I-485 Background Checks

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I did some research out of curiousity, on the background check process for i-485. Most resources are from about a decade ago, when USCIS last released an update to the process. 

 

Does anyone have any ideas on how background checks work for AOS applications? It's my understanding that there is the fingerprint check, the IBIS check, and the FBI name check. But maybe that changed.

 

I'm sure it's to a great extent a black box, but I'm curious to hear some thoughts. Mine isn't particularly overdue, but apparently, that's my bottleneck right now. I'm sure having two other citizenships doesn't help. 

 

Do they run the background check on the intending immigrant only? Are there things/countries that tend to take longer? Just wondering. 

 

I've seen some old forum posts (from late 2000s and early 2010s) where some people have been waiting for years. Is that no longer common? 


Adjusting from TN to GC as immediate relative of USC

2015-11-23: Most recent TN received at CBP

2017-06-12: Married

2017-08-15: First child

2018-06-25: Mailed I-485, I-864, I-130/I-130A, and I-765 to USCIS

2018-07-03: NOA1 for I-485, I-130, and I-765

2018-07-24: Biometrics appointment

2018-07-25: Biometrics review completed

2018-08-28: Expedite request submitted for EAD via USCIS support line

2018-08-31: Request for additional information for EAD expedite mailed by USCIS

2018-09-07: Request for additional information for EAD expedite received in the mail

2018-09-07: Additional information for EAD expedite faxed to USCIS

2018-09-10: Mailed I-131 to USCIS

2018-09-14: EAD approved

2018-09-18: EAD approval notice received in the mail 

2018-09-18: EAD card was mailed 

2018-09-20: NOA1 for I-131

2018-09-21: EAD and SSN received in the mail

2018-10-11: Case is ready to be scheduled for interview

------------------

2018-11-21: TN expires

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Yes the check is done for the immigrant only, to the best of my knowledge anyways

 

I'm not sure anyone knows exactly what their process is, but AOS does take some time. Around a year, maybe slightly less. Additional citizenships or having lived in other countries makes the process longer.


5/7/2018 K1       Application mailed

5/9/2018             Application rec'd and signed for (sent via fedex)

5/14/2018          NOA1 Email notification

5/18/2018          NOA1 Paper copy rec'd (i797C)

 

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Just now, debbiedoo said:

Yes the check is done for the immigrant only, to the best of my knowledge anyways

 

I'm not sure anyone knows exactly what their process is, but AOS does take some time. Around a year, maybe slightly less. Additional citizenships or having lived in other countries makes the process longer.

From what I've read, the average background check takes 30 days or less, and 80% are completed within 90 days. That may not be correct or may no longer be correct, but that seems consistent with people's timelines. According to the USCIS rep, my application had no flags for RFEs and was marked complete, and will be ready to be scheduled for interview as soon as the background check clears. So technically, according to her, being ready to be scheduled for an interview means that your application has no major gaps (like missing tax returns or birth certificates) and the background check came out clean.

 

It looks like a lot of people move into "ready to be scheduled for interview" relatively quickly, and then may end up waiting for months on top of that depending on the field office. So it seems aligned with my understanding that background checks actually happen relatively quickly to allow for this. 


Adjusting from TN to GC as immediate relative of USC

2015-11-23: Most recent TN received at CBP

2017-06-12: Married

2017-08-15: First child

2018-06-25: Mailed I-485, I-864, I-130/I-130A, and I-765 to USCIS

2018-07-03: NOA1 for I-485, I-130, and I-765

2018-07-24: Biometrics appointment

2018-07-25: Biometrics review completed

2018-08-28: Expedite request submitted for EAD via USCIS support line

2018-08-31: Request for additional information for EAD expedite mailed by USCIS

2018-09-07: Request for additional information for EAD expedite received in the mail

2018-09-07: Additional information for EAD expedite faxed to USCIS

2018-09-10: Mailed I-131 to USCIS

2018-09-14: EAD approved

2018-09-18: EAD approval notice received in the mail 

2018-09-18: EAD card was mailed 

2018-09-20: NOA1 for I-131

2018-09-21: EAD and SSN received in the mail

2018-10-11: Case is ready to be scheduled for interview

------------------

2018-11-21: TN expires

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^ Correct. That's what I've noticed as well.

 

For a sole I-485, I'm not aware of background checks on the petitioner. If an I-130 is/was also filed, background checks of the petitioner for that would be included, though. The same for an I-129F prior to applying for and obtaining a K-1 visa.

Edited by geowrian

Timelines:

Spoiler

AOS (I-485 + I-131 + I-765):

9/25/17: sent forms to Chicago

9/27/17: received by USCIS

10/4/17: NOA1 electronic notification received

10/10/17: NOA1 hard copy received. Social Security card being issued in married name (3rd attempt!)

10/14/17: Biometrics appointment notice received

10/25/17: Biometrics

1/2/18: EAD + AP approved (no website update)

1/5/18: EAD + AP mailed

1/8/18: EAD + AP approval notice hardcopies received

1/10/18: EAD + AP received

9/5/18: Interview scheduled notice

10/17/18: Interview

10/17/18: Approved

?/?/?: Green card received

 

K-1:

Spoiler

I-129F

12/1/17: sent

12/14/17: NOA1 hard copy received

3/10/17: RFE (IMB verification)

3/22/17: RFE response received

3/24/17: Approved!

3/30/17: NOA2 hard copy received

 

NVC

4/6/2017: Received

4/12/2017: Sent to Riyadh embassy

4/16/2017: Case received at Riyadh embassy

4/21/2017: Request case transfer to Manila, approved 4/24/2017

 

K-1

5/1/2017: Case received by Manila (1 week embassy transfer??? Lucky~)

7/13/2017: Interview: APPROVED!!!

7/19/2017: Visa in hand

8/15/2017: POE

 

 

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10 hours ago, eckoin said:

From what I've read, the average background check takes 30 days or less, and 80% are completed within 90 days. That may not be correct or may no longer be correct, but that seems consistent with people's timelines. According to the USCIS rep, my application had no flags for RFEs and was marked complete, and will be ready to be scheduled for interview as soon as the background check clears. So technically, according to her, being ready to be scheduled for an interview means that your application has no major gaps (like missing tax returns or birth certificates) and the background check came out clean.

 

It looks like a lot of people move into "ready to be scheduled for interview" relatively quickly, and then may end up waiting for months on top of that depending on the field office. So it seems aligned with my understanding that background checks actually happen relatively quickly to allow for this. 

My understanding is a bit different. USCIS uses 5 software systems to run background checks. This document explains in detail how it all works. It's from 2010. I believe the logistics of it have not changed. https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_uscis_ibbcs.pdf

 

It contradicts what the level 1 rep told you. It is possible to reach the "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview" stage even if your background checks have not cleared yet/aren't finished. Your interview may even be scheduled before the background checks are completed. 

On the other hand,  approval of EAD/AP is entirely dependent upon the background checks. So one can infer that if your EAD/AP combo card is approved, then your background checks have already cleared. 

 

Take with a grain of salt what level 1 reps say. I mean, they will tell you that the "Case Inquiry date" is the date they are currently processing. That could not be more inaccurate. 


Marriage-based AOS - Concurrent filing.
03/14/2018 - AOS package sent via FedEx to Chicago Lockbox.
03/16/2018 - FedEx confirmation of delivery to USCIS.
03/28/2018 - Four Email/Text notifications 11:18pm; 11:21pm; 11:24pm; 11:27pm.
04/02/2018 - Four I-797 Notice of Action letters received by mail.
04/06/2018 - Biometrics Appointment Notice for 04/18/17.
04/12/2018 - Biometrics Walk-in - Mission accomplished.
04/13/2018 - "We reviewed your biometrics and are still processing your case" - updated 04/15/2018

04/23/2018 - "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview"

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3 hours ago, USC4SPOUSE said:

My understanding is a bit different. USCIS uses 5 software systems to run background checks. This document explains in detail how it all works. It's from 2010. I believe the logistics of it have not changed. https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_uscis_ibbcs.pdf

 

It contradicts what the level 1 rep told you. It is possible to reach the "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview" stage even if your background checks have not cleared yet/aren't finished. Your interview may even be scheduled before the background checks are completed. 

On the other hand,  approval of EAD/AP is entirely dependent upon the background checks. So one can infer that if your EAD/AP combo card is approved, then your background checks have already cleared. 

 

Take with a grain of salt what level 1 reps say. I mean, they will tell you that the "Case Inquiry date" is the date they are currently processing. That could not be more inaccurate. 

Wow, great find, thank you! I didn't realize that they maintain so many of their own databases (it's a good thing, anyway). I guess it's the FBI name check part that can drag on (if you get "pending" out of that). 

 

I have also seen mention of a USCIS memorandum (that I haven't been able to find) that outlines that, ostensibly, if a background check from FBI comes back pending, or doesn't come back at all, for 180 days, then USCIS can proceed with the application. I think that's where you get the weird cases where the application is "approved pending background check". But that may not even be real. 

 

Are you sure the full background check needs to be completed for EAD/AP? I thought you just needed the fingerprint review completed, since EAD/AP is valid for one year and therefore doesn't technically require the full background check? The doc you linked also mentioned this process for immigration benefits greater than one year. But either way makes sense to me. 

 

Interestingly, my status changed to "case ready to be scheduled for interview" yesterday, so one of three things happened after I called:

 

1. My background check was completed already, but tier I didn't see that and made something up. 

2. My background check was completed already, but not updated in the system so it showed as incomplete for tier I. 

3. My background check isn't completed, and it's moving on anyway. 

 

I noticed @ooogaboooga also has a nearly identical timeline as me, and also got the same notification. So it's moving in batches, one way or another.

 

What a curious process. 


Adjusting from TN to GC as immediate relative of USC

2015-11-23: Most recent TN received at CBP

2017-06-12: Married

2017-08-15: First child

2018-06-25: Mailed I-485, I-864, I-130/I-130A, and I-765 to USCIS

2018-07-03: NOA1 for I-485, I-130, and I-765

2018-07-24: Biometrics appointment

2018-07-25: Biometrics review completed

2018-08-28: Expedite request submitted for EAD via USCIS support line

2018-08-31: Request for additional information for EAD expedite mailed by USCIS

2018-09-07: Request for additional information for EAD expedite received in the mail

2018-09-07: Additional information for EAD expedite faxed to USCIS

2018-09-10: Mailed I-131 to USCIS

2018-09-14: EAD approved

2018-09-18: EAD approval notice received in the mail 

2018-09-18: EAD card was mailed 

2018-09-20: NOA1 for I-131

2018-09-21: EAD and SSN received in the mail

2018-10-11: Case is ready to be scheduled for interview

------------------

2018-11-21: TN expires

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3 hours ago, eckoin said:

Wow, great find, thank you! I didn't realize that they maintain so many of their own databases (it's a good thing, anyway). I guess it's the FBI name check part that can drag on (if you get "pending" out of that). 

 

I have also seen mention of a USCIS memorandum (that I haven't been able to find) that outlines that, ostensibly, if a background check from FBI comes back pending, or doesn't come back at all, for 180 days, then USCIS can proceed with the application. I think that's where you get the weird cases where the application is "approved pending background check". But that may not even be real. 

 

Are you sure the full background check needs to be completed for EAD/AP? I thought you just needed the fingerprint review completed, since EAD/AP is valid for one year and therefore doesn't technically require the full background check? The doc you linked also mentioned this process for immigration benefits greater than one year. But either way makes sense to me. 

 

Interestingly, my status changed to "case ready to be scheduled for interview" yesterday, so one of three things happened after I called:

 

1. My background check was completed already, but tier I didn't see that and made something up. 

2. My background check was completed already, but not updated in the system so it showed as incomplete for tier I. 

3. My background check isn't completed, and it's moving on anyway. 

 

I noticed @ooogaboooga also has a nearly identical timeline as me, and also got the same notification. So it's moving in batches, one way or another.

 

What a curious process. 

I was told by a knowledgeable Tier 3 that adjudicators set aside combo card applications that are under the jurisdiction of a fast field office; i.e., one that schedules folks for interview within 90 to 180 days. And that makes sense. Why spend time working on a EAD/AP combo card for someone - say in Cleveland- when they're going to get their interview relatively soon. 

 

I would say that your background check isn't completed yet, it's moving on anyway AND since the Tier 1 does not have access to see if your background checks are done, he/she made something up to justify his/her wages and get you off the phone. 

 

I have not called in a while, but I do not sped too much time speaking to Level 1s. I always tell them I am well aware they only have access to what I see on my screen at home AND that I would like to speak to a level 2. Usually, that prompts them to say "Sure, let's transfer you to a level 2".


Marriage-based AOS - Concurrent filing.
03/14/2018 - AOS package sent via FedEx to Chicago Lockbox.
03/16/2018 - FedEx confirmation of delivery to USCIS.
03/28/2018 - Four Email/Text notifications 11:18pm; 11:21pm; 11:24pm; 11:27pm.
04/02/2018 - Four I-797 Notice of Action letters received by mail.
04/06/2018 - Biometrics Appointment Notice for 04/18/17.
04/12/2018 - Biometrics Walk-in - Mission accomplished.
04/13/2018 - "We reviewed your biometrics and are still processing your case" - updated 04/15/2018

04/23/2018 - "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview"

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3 hours ago, USC4SPOUSE said:

I was told by a knowledgeable Tier 3 that adjudicators set aside combo card applications that are under the jurisdiction of a fast field office; i.e., one that schedules folks for interview within 90 to 180 days. And that makes sense. Why spend time working on a EAD/AP combo card for someone - say in Cleveland- when they're going to get their interview relatively soon. 

 

I would say that your background check isn't completed yet, it's moving on anyway AND since the Tier 1 does not have access to see if your background checks are done, he/she made something up to justify his/her wages and get you off the phone. 

 

I have not called in a while, but I do not sped too much time speaking to Level 1s. I always tell them I am well aware they only have access to what I see on my screen at home AND that I would like to speak to a level 2. Usually, that prompts them to say "Sure, let's transfer you to a level 2".

That first part makes sense, I wouldn't bother either if I had that type of workload.  When you say an office schedules folks within 90 to 180 days, do you mean that the countdown starts from when the office receives it, i.e. in my case, right about now, since it just got the "ready to be scheduled" notice? 

 

As of yesterday, the automated service said my case is in Lee's Summit, MO, and the tier I agent said the same--though as you said, who knows if she was just making things up or doesn't have any such information in the first place.  I called just now to see what the automated system says now, and it can't even find my case.  

 

I don't know if I need to know the status so much as to call and speak to a tier II agent; I think I prefer obsessing over it without knowing the details (or something).  I don't feel like I've been waiting long enough to take up tier II/III agents' time, but I also want to know out of severe personal curiosity.  It's a weird feeling.


Adjusting from TN to GC as immediate relative of USC

2015-11-23: Most recent TN received at CBP

2017-06-12: Married

2017-08-15: First child

2018-06-25: Mailed I-485, I-864, I-130/I-130A, and I-765 to USCIS

2018-07-03: NOA1 for I-485, I-130, and I-765

2018-07-24: Biometrics appointment

2018-07-25: Biometrics review completed

2018-08-28: Expedite request submitted for EAD via USCIS support line

2018-08-31: Request for additional information for EAD expedite mailed by USCIS

2018-09-07: Request for additional information for EAD expedite received in the mail

2018-09-07: Additional information for EAD expedite faxed to USCIS

2018-09-10: Mailed I-131 to USCIS

2018-09-14: EAD approved

2018-09-18: EAD approval notice received in the mail 

2018-09-18: EAD card was mailed 

2018-09-20: NOA1 for I-131

2018-09-21: EAD and SSN received in the mail

2018-10-11: Case is ready to be scheduled for interview

------------------

2018-11-21: TN expires

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1 hour ago, eckoin said:

That first part makes sense, I wouldn't bother either if I had that type of workload.  When you say an office schedules folks within 90 to 180 days, do you mean that the countdown starts from when the office receives it, i.e. in my case, right about now, since it just got the "ready to be scheduled" notice? 

 

As of yesterday, the automated service said my case is in Lee's Summit, MO, and the tier I agent said the same--though as you said, who knows if she was just making things up or doesn't have any such information in the first place.  I called just now to see what the automated system says now, and it can't even find my case.  

 

I don't know if I need to know the status so much as to call and speak to a tier II agent; I think I prefer obsessing over it without knowing the details (or something).  I don't feel like I've been waiting long enough to take up tier II/III agents' time, but I also want to know out of severe personal curiosity.  It's a weird feeling.

I meant 90 to 180 days from PD. To give you an example from 1mmih3lp, I have observed that often times if someone is in a fast jurisdiction like Cleveland, OH., or Buffalo, NY., they never get the EAD/AP. It just goes straight to interview.

 

Level 1s are there for folks who do not have access to internet or a computer. They can see what you and I can see. When they volunteer to tell you what the processing time is, they're literally just clicking on this link https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/


Marriage-based AOS - Concurrent filing.
03/14/2018 - AOS package sent via FedEx to Chicago Lockbox.
03/16/2018 - FedEx confirmation of delivery to USCIS.
03/28/2018 - Four Email/Text notifications 11:18pm; 11:21pm; 11:24pm; 11:27pm.
04/02/2018 - Four I-797 Notice of Action letters received by mail.
04/06/2018 - Biometrics Appointment Notice for 04/18/17.
04/12/2018 - Biometrics Walk-in - Mission accomplished.
04/13/2018 - "We reviewed your biometrics and are still processing your case" - updated 04/15/2018

04/23/2018 - "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview"

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23 minutes ago, USC4SPOUSE said:

I meant 90 to 180 days from PD. To give you an example from 1mmih3lp, I have observed that often times if someone is in a fast jurisdiction like Cleveland, OH., or Buffalo, NY., they never get the EAD/AP. It just goes straight to interview.

 

Level 1s are there for folks who do not have access to internet or a computer. They can see what you and I can see. When they volunteer to tell you what the processing time is, they're literally just clicking on this link https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/

Yeah that's fair enough, I was literally told the same about the processing times ("I can walk you through the processing times that are also on the website if you'd like") which made me feel like the agent was actually telling me something useful on the other parts, like the background check and where it's physically located.  Seems unlikely.  Thanks for your help!

 

I was hoping that my application drags into June of next year, but it does seem unlikely now as well.  I guess I'll start mentally preparing for the I-751, besides already physically preparing for the evidence of marriage part.

Edited by eckoin

Adjusting from TN to GC as immediate relative of USC

2015-11-23: Most recent TN received at CBP

2017-06-12: Married

2017-08-15: First child

2018-06-25: Mailed I-485, I-864, I-130/I-130A, and I-765 to USCIS

2018-07-03: NOA1 for I-485, I-130, and I-765

2018-07-24: Biometrics appointment

2018-07-25: Biometrics review completed

2018-08-28: Expedite request submitted for EAD via USCIS support line

2018-08-31: Request for additional information for EAD expedite mailed by USCIS

2018-09-07: Request for additional information for EAD expedite received in the mail

2018-09-07: Additional information for EAD expedite faxed to USCIS

2018-09-10: Mailed I-131 to USCIS

2018-09-14: EAD approved

2018-09-18: EAD approval notice received in the mail 

2018-09-18: EAD card was mailed 

2018-09-20: NOA1 for I-131

2018-09-21: EAD and SSN received in the mail

2018-10-11: Case is ready to be scheduled for interview

------------------

2018-11-21: TN expires

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1 minute ago, eckoin said:

Yeah that's fair enough, I was literally told the same about the processing times ("I can walk you through the processing times that are also on the website if you'd like") which made me feel like the agent was actually telling me something useful on the other parts, like the background check and where it's physically located.  Seems unlikely.  Thanks for your help!

 

I was hoping that my applications drags into June of next year, but it does seem unlikely now as well.  I guess I'll start mentally preparing for the I-751, besides already physically preparing for the evidence of marriage part.

Yup, just make peace with whatever cards you are dealt. That's what we are doing. We were all ready to wait a long time for the interview, and as fate may have it, the Minneapolis field office just scheduled someone with PD 12-07-17 for Mid November. 

 


Marriage-based AOS - Concurrent filing.
03/14/2018 - AOS package sent via FedEx to Chicago Lockbox.
03/16/2018 - FedEx confirmation of delivery to USCIS.
03/28/2018 - Four Email/Text notifications 11:18pm; 11:21pm; 11:24pm; 11:27pm.
04/02/2018 - Four I-797 Notice of Action letters received by mail.
04/06/2018 - Biometrics Appointment Notice for 04/18/17.
04/12/2018 - Biometrics Walk-in - Mission accomplished.
04/13/2018 - "We reviewed your biometrics and are still processing your case" - updated 04/15/2018

04/23/2018 - "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview"

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