Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Darn FBI Fingerprinting

What did I do on this beautiful Tuesday afternoon? I left work early so that I could mail out my FBI fingerprints to my dad who will send them to the FBI. Sure I could have waited till after work, but why not use it as an excuse for time off. Plus the timing of this whole thing is crucial.

With the new E2 visa regulations well under way it seems everyone (Americans) is now in a hard place. We all know the great U. S. of A. is out of money for it's government programs and offices are understaffed so getting your FBI check done in a timely manner is going to be difficult. I don't plan on starting a new job till February or March, but that doesn't mean I'm not panicking already about my documents.

Here's the deal, get it done now. If you are thinking of renewing or looking for a new job anytime within the next six months get this done pronto! I spent some time on Dave's ESL cafe looking over people's complaints and comments about the process. Some say it took them 7 weeks to get their response from the FBI, while others it took them 10 weeks. Recruiters are giving it a maximum 12 weeks to get done, and I bet they are calculating in the apostille process.

To get it started you need to do many things of course. Kiss My Kimchi gives you a great breakdown of the whole process and includes other regulations you need to be concerned with. Today I am going to give you insight into the fingerprinting process itself, and what it is like to do it inside Korea.

This is actually my second time doing this from Korea and I found both to be quite similar. Here we go.

Download and Print the Necessary Documents:
  1. Application Form which you can find here.
  2. Fingerprint Card from the same website. Print up to 5 of these. The FBI will accept only 5 completed cards. I printed and completed 3. You don't have to print these on card stock paper. However I recommend printing via a color printer.
  3. If you choose to pay by credit card (makes the process faster) than print out the credit card form from the same website link above.
  4. FBI Identification Record Request checklist. This will help you get through the steps and make sure you filled everything out correctly. (From the same website).
Those are the necessary documents. From there I recommend doing the following.
  • Find a sample of a completed FBI card online (I used this google search).
  • If you are not going to bring a Korean person with you to the police station then have a Korean person write you a letter about the request.
Getting the Fingerprints:
What you are going to do is head to a large police station in your area or in Seoul. Either take with you a Korean person to help you along or bring a letter in Korean (as mentioned above). I have a feeling though you can go in and just do your best. Definitely bring the example page so they have an idea of what your requesting.

KoreaInsider website lists several police stations that would work well for this process.
Make sure that you have completed the fingerprint cards before you go. Filling in the fields of name...etc.

Let's go through the process of being fingerprinted in Korea. I went to the Seocho Police station (Korean site). My boyfriend took me so we went by car, but I will provide a map and subway directions.
From this map it looks like you should take Line 3 and get off at the Nambu Bus Terminal. Take exit 6 and make your way up the large street. The building is a large white/gray thing with a big sign on it.

When you go inside the lobby there will be a desk to your left. Go there and make your request. Once they figure it out they will direct you to the Criminal Investigation unit, which is down a hallway on the same floor. It kind of feels like you are in a crime drama.

We were greeted by two tall Korean men who looked excited and interested to see us. My boyfriend explained the whole deal. We showed them the documents and finally they nodded their heads yes and got it ready. They folded the paper where the different prints were to be taken. I was told to wipe my hands on my pants. Next time I would recommend you either wash them before you go in or bring a wet tissue as back up.

He next demonstrated the rolling himself. This was because he was going to blot my fingers in ink, but I was to roll them on the paper.  Thanks to my new iPod touch I was able to get photos of it in action.

Rolling your fingers over a piece of paper can actually be tricky. I would highly recommend reading the FBI's rolling fingerprints guide.

When taking the rolled impression, the side of the finger bulb is placed upon the card or platen. The finger is then rolled to the other side until it faces the opposite direction. Care should be exercised so the bulb of each finger, from tip to below the first joint, is rolled evenly. Generally, the weight of the finger is the maximum pressure needed to clearly record a fingerprint. In order to take advantage of the natural movement of the forearm, the hand should be rotated from the more difficult position to the easiest position. This requires the thumbs be rolled toward and the fingers away from the center of the individual's body. Roll each finger from nail to nail in the appropriate space, taking care to lift each finger up after rolling to avoid smudging.
This is why it is necessary to get at least 3 - 5 cards done. You don't want to rely on one card. I did 3 because I didn't want to make it too laborious for the officers.

Although I didn't do this I would recommend practicing rolling your fingers at home. Especially if you are left or right hand dominated. I am right handed and so had a harder time with my left hand. Also I found my ring finger to be the most difficult.

Tips for rolling your fingers:
  • Don't press too hard.
  • Roll from "end" to "end" and lift up gently. 
  • If another finger is in the way (my pinky kept on intruding) then use your other hand to hold it down. 
  • The officer will roll your fingers in ink over and over to keep it fresh. 
  • Try not to sweat. I did a good job at this.

 The after-party:
After we completed all three documents I was told to go and wash my hands. When I came back they were making copies of one of the cards. They requested to copy of my identification card and so I handed that to them. I am sure this is for their records. Also, they filled out the part of the form where the person who took your fingerprints is suppose to write.

We said our "thank you's" and "good bye's" and went home. It all took about 30 minutes and was a pleasant experience.

What's Next?
At the very next opportunity put together your package to send to either the FBI or a relative. I say a relative because to insure it will get back to you faster you need to include a return envelope that is stamped. I didn't want to bother with that from here so I am requesting my dad to that.

Make your package:
  • Cover letter to the FBI requesting them to put on their seal and why you need it done.
  • Letter to family (if necessary) letting them know the procedure and so-on.
  • Fingerprint cards.
  • Application.
  • Credit Card form.
Look over everything with a fine tooth making sure you didn't miss to fill out any info. Go to your local post office and mail it off express. I paid about 16,000 won to get home in 3 days. Once it gets to the FBI you can contact them to follow up on the process. If everything works well you should receive a letter back saying "no record." That's what you want! From there get it apostatized (I'll cover this in another post.)

I'm just glad it is off and over with, for now. Hopefully, by December I will expect something back in the mail from them. At which time I will be home and can do the apostille myself. For now I am double checking the apostille process and keeping my fingers crossed this doesn't delay my next job hunt.

If you have any questions or comments let me know. I hope this was helpful to other applicants out there and good luck with your own fingerprints!


    1. thanx for the info joy! i didnt know there were any changes going on... probably should be keeping an eye on that stuff!! hahaha! i guess it also means i probably should get started on that. i have a question though... Kiss my Kimchi mentioned the notarized copy of the diploma... do you know how we can do that if we're in korea? would i need to contact my school for that too? lol i guess it's good that as long as we get this done this time, it's done for good... right? lol!

      thanx again!

    2. :) No Problem!

      To notarize and apostille your degree you can get part of that done here. The notarization part can be done at the consulate. But to apostille you have to send that to your local state department. I would have your folks do it or a close friend back home help you out. The best way is to search how to get your diploma notarized and apostilled in your State...that way it comes out best.

    3. I thought the new E-2 rules were supposed to make this stuff easier for us rather than harder... I thought I read somewhere that as long as your new job starts within 3 months of the last one you didn't need all the appostile and background check again? maybe I need to read those rules again...

    4. Good Luck all!
      I've had the FBI check done here in the US by several school districts & it's all done by computer system. No more messy inky finger rolling! (Tho in the past I've done that also) Now you roll your fingers on a computer pad & it goes directly into the system! The technician holds your fingers down & guides them along appropriately so that it comes out correctly!

    5. No you are right Joanna. I believe you don't need the stuff if you are within 3 months. But I am not sure if that is for people who get new visas next year... those with visas now it might now apply. Certainly something to look into. I have been told by recruiters to get new docs so that is what I am doing.

    6. Thanks so much for this info! I got my CBC done and am here in korea working at a Hagwon. However, the Hagwon is one of the shady ones and I may have to leave and apply to a public school. Now I am trying to get all my docs together. Two questions, if I may: 1)to get your background check apostilled, do you have to do it? or can a family memeber do it for you back in the US? I didn't know if since it has my name on it, I have to do it. 2) do you know what time the police station you went to opens? I want to go there but would have to do it in the morning. Thanks again!

    7. Hi Michelle,
      Yes your family can do that for you. Make sure whether you need to get it notarized first and then send it to be apostilled. Each State has their own way.

      I think the police station would be open by 8am. There is a link to it in this post...maybe the times are there.

      Good luck and sorry to hear your hagwon isn't working out.

    8. Hi Mom,
      That is for a statewide check. The FBI one requires sending in fingerprints. We can no longer get federal checks...but the finger scanning was a lot easier.


    9. Great post Joy!
      To clarify, anyone needing a new E-2 visa starting 1/1/2011 will HAVE to submit a background check from your national government.

      As of 9/1/2010, anyone needing a new visa (INCLUDING transferring a visa from school A to B) needs to get an apostille on their diploma OR get it confirmed by a certain Korean third-party. If staying in Korea, the latter is easier. I wrote about this at http://chrisinsouthkorea.blogspot.com/2010/07/important-visa-immigration-news.html

    10. wow! thanx everyone for the info! now i feel a bit better and breathing a sigh of relief. I guess all i need to do is the diploma since I'll just be transferring visas every time... which i'm assuming is just the ARC part. according to my passport my visa is expired but i received a new work permit in there as well as an extension on my ARC. i plan to talk to my school about the visa part just in case though...

      again thanx so much!

    11. Fantastic post as always Joy! I just want to add that you can also get this done, if you're american, at the USO. Everyone speaks English and you're out of there in a jiffy!

      Sookmyung Women's University Station exit 7. Walk straight, cross the street, keep going straight and it's on your right.

      The Yongsan Police station is close by and is also an option. You'll see signs on the way to the USO for the non Americans.

    12. Good to know there is an option for those without Korean assistance. ^^ Certainly I wonder if the Seocho police station is going to get a bunch of foreigners coming in because of me.


    13. Kissmykimchi, do you know if the USO is open on Sundays? or the weekends? I went to the Seocho Police station and, I think, was just really unlucky. I had trouble finding it and actually had to get off at Seocho Station (line 2) because I couldn't find it from Nambu Bus Terminal. And then, the guy at the information desk went to go do something and I waited for nearly two hours before having to leave for work. Joy, your experience sounded so pleasant! I'm jealous. It seemed extra busy when I went, had to go in the morning because of my Hagwon, and so yeah, I guess I was just really unlucky. Joy, I wish there was someway I could check with you to make sure I was in the right place, though, there are probably not two Seocho Police Stations.

    14. Michelle I am sorry to hear that. Because I went by car translating directions from the subway was a little difficult. If that area has many stations you might have been in the wrong one...could have been a building over. I went and it wasn't busy there, of course this was a Saturday afternoon.

      If you want further help you can email me at joybot_0 at hotmail.com.

      Don't give up!

    15. Also it is a little troubling to hear that they aren't as easy to go to when not accompanied by a Korean. If you get out to the USO one let us know how it works.

    16. My update about Seocho: I was planning on going to the USO after my 2-hour long wait at Seocho the first time. However, Monday was a holiday in the US, so I figured the USO would not be open on Monday, too. I wanted to get it done ASAP so I tried Seocho a second time. Completely different experience! I only had to wait about a half hour for someone at the info desk to help me. She directed me to the same place that Joy was directed, and I got them done fairly easily. I actually went back this morning as some of mine looked a bit smeared. Advice? Don't wait for the person at the info desk to come (that could take a while). Once you enter the doors, there is a door in the far left corner. Walk through it and continue to the end of the hallway. Just go in yourself. Also, I don't speak any korean, didn't take anyone with me, and had nothing written in Korean. Everyone is really nice and will try to help you. Oh, and, take Line 2 (green) and get off at Seocho station, exit 6. You'll see it right away. Thanks Joy!

    17. Heya :) I'm still a bit confused on if I can transfer my visa or need to apply for a new one.

      This contract ends jan4. (but visa entry expires in december) and I'm flying home on Dec24. for 6 weeks. My new contract starts Feb 25. But I will of course be applying for this Visa asap.

      Regarding the 3 month period...If I apply before January can I transfer? My friend just did this and was not required to resubmit all of the documents again, yet my new school is asking for them?

    18. Hello "ThisJane"

      Looks like your entangled in the very confusing part of the new rules. I thought about figuring this out a while back but it almost made my head explode.

      My best advice is to call immigration with the same question. If the new school is asking for them then I think you have to give it to them. Also if you are leaving you will likely give up your visa card.

      Hmm hope that helps. I for one am confused with this "3 month" grievance period.

    19. You left out a very important detail: when sending the fingerprints to the FBI, don't forget to add that extra request to make your CRC report an "athorized." Otherwise, you'll just receive an unauthorized copy, which you won't be able to notarize, and consequently not able to apostilled either.

      Also, to get your diploma apostilled, the only way to do this is to take it to your school's registrar, and have it notarized there. This is usually done by having a school official testifying that your diploma is real, and a notary public witnessing this and notarizing it. The American embassy cannot notarize diplomas. Even if you are able to get it notarized by affidavit, it will mean nothing, since a school official did not vouch for it.

      Please take note of this, otherwise you'll be regretting this when it's too late.

    20. Good information. But I got both my degrees apostilled without taking them to my campus. You just bring the originals with you to the notary.

    21. Hi Joy! Did you follow a certain format for your cover letter or was it just a request that they put the seal so that you can get the document apostilled?

    22. Follow the guidelines here:

      I believe it was one I made. Had my name, address and a note stating which country it is for.

    23. They did this for you on Saturday! That's GREAT! We've been hunting for a place that would do them on weekends. Seodaemun and Yeondeungpo wouldn't. Wonder if they'll do them tomorrow (Sunday).

    24. I think they will only do it on Saturday. But if you do get it done on Sunday let us know:)


    26. No problem Chris ~ anytime ~ if you have more questions needing answered give me an email at...

      also try waygook.org for more help

    27. In the end, Joy, how long did it take to get? I've heard 6 weeks or 3 months from various people who have done it recently... I just put mine in the mail yesterday...

    28. YOu mean you just sent everything to the FBI. Yea it took me almost 3 months. It is a real waiting game. After the FBI has it for a while you can contact them on the status.

    29. Question for you-I am also trying to get fingerprinted from abroad, and what did the police station write in the ORI number field? The FBI says you have to have an ORI number or it will be rejected. Did they have one?

    30. Great information provided. I appreciate your work. I like the way you write. Awesome, keep it up.

      live scan fingerprinting locations

    31. Do you need a Certificate of Alien Registration to be able to use the police station for the fingerprints? I'm in South Korea on a 90 day tourist visa, and I've heard that the Daejeon station needs an ARC from the person to give them fingerprints. Is this true in Seoul as well?


    Leave Your Thoughts

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...