How Do You Obtain a Police Clearance Letter for Immigration or Visa Purposes?

U.S. citizens can obtain a police clearance letter — known as an identity history summary — from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the FBI. A request can be made by filling out the application form on the FBI website or by submitting a request to an FBI-approved channeler.

The individual requesting the identity history summary must also submit a set of fingerprints with the application. A standard fingerprint form, commonly used by law enforcement, with the name and date of birth of the person making the request, must be used. The fingerprints need to include rolled impressions and flat impressions of all 10 fingers, taken simultaneously. Some law enforcement agencies provide fingerprinting by technicians when requested. Illegible fingerprint cards are rejected, which can cause a delay in the application process or result in additional fees, states the FBI.

The process requires a payment of $18 per person, as of 2015, made payable to the Treasury of the United States. There is no option to expedite a request with additional payment, explains the FBI.

An individual also has the option of using an FBI-approved channeler, which is a private business that collects the fingerprint and application data on behalf of the FBI. The channeler may include additional processing fees in addition to the standard $18. An individual receives a response from the FBI even in cases where there are no prior arrests on file, reports the FBI. The identity history summary can be used internationally to satisfy requirements for visas and immigration.