Channel your inner zen-master and get ready for the ultimate mission pain-in-the-rear-end: getting your criminal background check issued by the FBI!
- Get your fingerprints taken at a local police station
Tell then what it’s for (a Federal-level criminal background check) and ask for two sets. You’ll need to pay with a money order here – which you can pick up at your nearest Post Office. The cost should be around USD25-27.
- Apply directly through the FBI
Fill in the form, include your sets of fingerprints and payment slip and off you go. That easy? Not really. Nowadays, the criminal background check is known as an Identity History Summary Check and you can (try to) apply online, directly with the FBI. The website also has details on how to request fingerprints and submit payment – this costs just USD 18.
- Have the certificate authenticated by the US Department of State
You’ll need to send it to the Washington office, as this is the only one authorised to authenticate FBI-issued documents. This should set you back about USD 10.
- Have the certificate authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington
Chinese Consulates in varying States don’t have the power to authenticate criminal background checks that have been authenticated by the US Department of State in Washington – only the Chinese Embassy in Washington can do this. This service costs around USD 25.
All up, the process for getting your Federal criminal background check in the US can take upwards of two months.
Pro-Tip: Use a channeler
For all of the above considerable and numerous reasons, many prospective teachers employ the services of what’s known as a ‘channeler’ – an accredited agency that’ll channel all your overwhelming frustrations and get the job done, for you, for a nominal fee. Although you must personally apply for a local and State-level certificate (due to privacy laws) an agent can help you get the document authenticated and certified.
For FBI checks, an agent can take over after you’ve had your fingerprints taken, taking care of every step after the first. Yes, you will pay more but, in this particular case, a channeler may just be Worth.Every.Cent.
Agencies like Accurate Biometrics and FBI Apostille Services can take as much or as little of the bureaucratic burden off your hands as you wish. Moreover, this can save you some valuable time if you’ve left this step to the last minute – some channelers offer expedited services – however, note that authentication by the US Dep’t of State AND Secretary of State Offices cannot be expedited, so expect it to take three weeks, at the very least.
Usually, you can expect to pay an extra USD100 for a channeler, plus mailing costs to and fro.
Wondering what other documents you’ll need, to apply for a teaching job? Learn all about the China work visa, before you start your job search, and you’ll be a step ahead.