Background Check FBI Background Checks vs. BCI

BCI vs. FBI Background Checks [Ultimate Guide]

Share This Article

Published on July 8, 2024 at 01:49 pm

The BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) are critical for background checks, essential for employment, licensing, and other approvals.

BCI Background Check:

  • Primarily state-level searches.
  • Focuses on local criminal records.
  • Used extensively within the state’s jurisdiction.

FBI Background Check:

  • Nationwide scope.
  • Includes federal criminal records.
  • Often required for jobs with higher security needs.

Both background checks verify individuals’ criminal histories to ensure safety and security. They serve different yet complementary roles in maintaining public trust and integrity.

Importance of Background Checks

Conducting background checks is crucial for any organization seeking to protect its interests and ensure a safe and trustworthy environment.

Background checks help identify potential risks by verifying an individual’s history and credentials, whether for hiring new employees, renting out properties, or engaging volunteers.

Implementing thorough background checks can prevent fraudulent activities, maintain workplace safety, and uphold the organization’s reputation.

Given the competitive landscape, businesses cannot afford to overlook the importance of verifying the accuracy and reliability of a person’s background.

Differences Between BCI and FBI Checks

CriteriaBCI CheckFBI Check
Full NameBureau of Criminal Investigation CheckFederal Bureau of Investigation Check
ScopeState-level criminal recordsNational-level criminal records
Administering BodyState BCI (varies by state)Federal Bureau of Investigation
Database UsedState-specific criminal databasesNational Crime Information Center (NCIC)
Fingerprint RequirementOften requiredAlways required
Processing TimeTypically shorter (varies by state)Typically longer (a few days to a few weeks)
Information IncludedState crimes, arrests, and court recordsFederal crimes, interstate crimes, and most state crimes
PurposeEmployment, licensing, and state permitsFederal employment, immigration, and national security clearances
CostVaries by stateGenerally higher than state checks
AccessTypically more restrictedMore comprehensive access to specific positions and agencies

What is a BCI Background Check

Process of Obtaining a BCI Check

To obtain a BCI check, one must follow a specific process that ensures thoroughness and accuracy.

The individual or organization requesting the BCI check must first provide personal information, such as name, date of birth, and social security number.

Additionally, fingerprinting is usually required to ensure the identification process is accurate. This information is then submitted to the Bureau of Criminal Identification within the respective state.

The BCI will then process the data, searching their criminal records database for matches or relevant information.

Typically, this process is faster than federal checks, making it suitable for state-level verifications.

The results are then returned to the requesting party, usually within a few days to a week, depending on the state’s processing time.

Uses of BCI Checks

BCI checks are versatile and commonly used in various scenarios to ensure safety and reliability.

Employers often request BCI checks when hiring new employees, especially for positions that involve working with vulnerable populations such as children or older people.

Licensing authorities might require BCI checks for certain professions, such as healthcare workers, teachers, and security personnel, ensuring that applicants meet the moral and legal standards of the profession.

Landlords may also employ BCI checks to screen potential tenants to prevent criminal activities and maintain a safe living environment.

By leveraging BCI checks, organizations and individuals can make informed decisions and minimize risks associated with unchecked criminal histories.

Understanding an FBI Background Check

How FBI Checks Differ from BCI Checks

FBI background checks, unlike BCI checks, are processed at a national level and involve a more comprehensive search across various federal databases.

When undergoing an FBI check, the subject’s fingerprints and information are cross-referenced with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

This extensive database includes records from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

As a result, FBI checks can reveal a more detailed criminal history, including federal crimes, compared to state-level BCI checks, which are likely to focus only on records within the respective state.

FBI checks usually take a bit longer to process, sometimes up to several weeks, depending on the specific case and volume of requests.

When is an FBI Check Necessary

FBI background checks are typically required when a more thorough background investigation is necessary.

This often applies to national security roles, high-level government positions, and sensitive situations demanding federal clearance.

Employers might also request FBI checks for positions requiring extensive access to sensitive data or handling large financial transactions.

Additionally, international adoptions, visa applications, and immigration processes often require an FBI background check to ensure the applicant has no significant criminal history that would affect the application.

Understanding the differences and appropriate uses of these background checks can help organizations and individuals make well-informed decisions tailored to their needs.

Required Documents for BCI Checks

Background Check Information (BCI) checks are essential for various purposes, including employment, volunteering, and licensing. Having all the necessary documents is crucial to ensure a smooth process.

Here’s a list of required documents for BCI checks:

1. Identification Documents

  • Government-issued ID: A valid driver’s license, passport, or state ID is commonly required.
  • Birth Certificate: In some cases, a certified copy of your birth certificate might be requested.

2. Proof of Residency

  • Utility Bills: Recent utility bills (electricity, water, gas) with your name and current address.
  • Lease Agreement: A copy of your current lease or rental agreement.
  • Mortgage Statement: A recent mortgage statement proves you own your home.

3. Social Security Information

  • Social Security Card: A copy of your Social Security card.
  • Tax Forms: Recent tax forms (W-2 or 1099) can also be proof.

4. Employment History

  • Resume: A comprehensive resume detailing your employment history.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Professional references or letters of recommendation may be requested.

5. Financial Records

  • Bank Statements: Recent bank statements may be needed for verification.
  • Credit Report: A credit report could sometimes be required for the check.

6. Educational Records

  • Transcripts: Copies of your high school and college academic transcripts.
  • Diplomas and Certificates: Copies of any diplomas, certificates, or degrees earned.

7. Authorization Forms

  • Consent Forms: Forms that authorize the background check and allow the release of your information.
  • Release Forms: Any specific release forms required by the organization conducting the check.

8. Criminal History

  • Court Documents: Copies of court records or documents related to past criminal history.
  • Police Reports: Any relevant police reports or documentation.

9. Miscellaneous Documents

  • Military Records: If applicable, copies of military service records.
  • Professional Licenses: Copies of any professional licenses or certifications.

10. Additional State-Specific Requirements

  • Particular Forms: Some states may have unique forms or additional documentation requirements.
  • Fingerprinting: Certain states may require fingerprinting, which could involve separate paperwork.

By preparing these documents in advance, you can ensure a smoother BCI check process. Always verify the specific requirements with the requesting agency, as they can vary based on the purpose and location of the check.

Summary of Required Documents

CategoryDocuments Needed
IdentificationGovernment-issued ID, Birth Certificate
Proof of ResidencyUtility Bills, Lease Agreement, Mortgage Statement
Social SecuritySocial Security Card, Tax Forms
Employment HistoryResume, Letters of Recommendation
Financial RecordsBank Statements, Credit Report
Educational RecordsTranscripts, Diplomas, Certificates
Authorization FormsConsent Forms, Release Forms
Criminal HistoryCourt Documents, Police Reports
MiscellaneousMilitary Records, Professional Licenses
State-SpecificSpecial Forms, Fingerprinting

Following this guide, you can ensure all the documents are ready for your BCI check.

Processing Times for BCI Checks

Factors Affecting Processing Times

Processing times for BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) checks can vary depending on several factors. The method of submission plays a crucial role.

Electronic submissions are typically processed faster than mailed applications due to the streamlined nature of digital data handling.

Another significant factor is the volume of requests at any given time.

Higher volumes can lead to delays as the agency handles multiple applications.

Additionally, the thoroughness and completeness of the submitted information can impact processing times.

Only complete or unmistakable fingerprints or missing forms may require re-submission, lengthening the timeline.

External factors, such as staffing levels and available resources within the agency, can also influence processing durations.

Understanding these aspects can help applicants anticipate delays in their BCI check results.

Expedited Options for Urgent Requests

Expedited options may be available for situations requiring urgent background checks.

Some agencies offer rush processing services for an additional fee, which can significantly reduce waiting times.

Applicants need to inquire with the agency handling their BCI check to determine the availability and cost of such services.

Certain authorized providers may also offer fast-track options for electronic submissions.

Utilizing these services can benefit individuals needing quick clearance for employment, travel, or other time-sensitive purposes.

Being aware of and choosing expedited processing can ensure timely receipt of background check results, aiding in crucial decisions and activities that depend on this essential information.

Thus, applicants should consider all available options to meet their specific needs effectively.

Processing Times for FBI Checks

Average Processing Timeframes

The processing times for FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) background checks vary based on the submission method.

Electronic fingerprint submissions are typically processed faster, averaging about 3 to 5 business days.

In contrast, mailed fingerprint cards can take longer, ranging from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the volume of requests and other logistical factors.

Applicants should check the guidelines provided by the FBI or the authorized channelers they use for the most accurate timeframes.

Factors that may Cause Delays

Several factors can contribute to delays in processing FBI checks.

Inaccurate or incomplete information, such as smudged fingerprints or missing personal details, often necessitate resubmissions, prolonging the process.

Additionally, high volumes of applications, especially during peak seasons, can cause backlogs.

External factors like system maintenance or unexpected technical issues can further delay results.

Moreover, international applicants might experience extended timelines due to the added complexity of cross-border verifications.

Staffing levels and other internal resource constraints within the FBI or third-party processing agencies can also impact processing speeds.

It’s crucial for applicants to submit accurate and complete information and to be aware of peak times to help mitigate potential delays.

For those in urgent need, expedited processing options are available, albeit at an extra cost.

Applicants should verify the availability and requirements of such services with their chosen submission channel.

Knowing these factors and options can help applicants better plan and manage their expectations regarding FBI background check results.

What Employers Need to Know About BCI and FBI Background Checks

Conducting thorough background checks is crucial for maintaining a safe and effective workplace when hiring new employees. Two common types of background checks are BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

Here’s a straightforward guide to understanding these checks and what employers need to know.

BCI Background Checks are typically conducted at the state level. They focus on criminal records within the state where the check is performed.

Key Points

  • State-Specific: These checks focus on state databases.
  • Criminal Records: They review state-level criminal histories.
  • Turnaround Time: Typically faster than FBI checks.

When to Use

  • When hiring for positions within a single state.
  • If state laws specifically require state-level checks.

FBI background checks are more comprehensive and pull data from a national database. They are suitable for more sensitive positions requiring a deeper background review.

Key Points

  • National Scope: Covers criminal records from all states and federal records.
  • In-Depth: Includes fingerprints and can uncover records that a BCI check might miss.
  • More extended Processing: This can take longer due to the extensive nature of the check.

When to Use

  • For positions of high trust or nationally regulated industries.
  • When federal law requires it.

BCI vs. FBI Background Checks

AspectBCI Background CheckFBI Background Check
Detail LevelState-level criminal recordsNational and federal criminal records
Processing TimeTypically fasterCan take longer
CostUsually lowerTypically higher
Ideal ForState-regulated positionsHigh-security positions, federal requirements

Legal Considerations

BCI Checks

  • Ensure compliance with state laws regarding background checks.
  • Be aware of state-specific consent requirements.

FBI Checks

  • Adhere to federal laws and regulations.
  • It requires fingerprints, which may require additional consent from applicants.

Best Practices for Employers

  • Define Needs: Determine whether a BCI or FBI check is necessary based on the role.
  • Get Consent: Always obtain proper consent from candidates.
  • Stay Compliant: Ensure all checks comply with state and federal laws.
  • Update Policies: Regularly review and update background check policies.
  • Communicate Clearly: Inform candidates about the background check process and potential outcomes.

Understanding the differences between BCI and FBI background checks helps employers decide which type suits their hiring needs. Employers can enhance workplace safety and compliance by defining the scope and following best practices.

Read More About Annual Background Checks: Why do Employers Need Them?

What Information is Included in a BCI and FBI Background Check? 

Information TypeBCI Background CheckFBI Background Check
Personal InformationName, date of birth, address, social security numberName, date of birth, address, social security number
Criminal RecordsState criminal convictions, arrests, chargesNational criminal convictions, arrests, charges
Felony and MisdemeanorState felonies and misdemeanorsFederal and state felonies and misdemeanors
WarrantsState warrantsNational and interstate warrants
Court RecordsState court recordsFederal and state court records
Sex Offender RegistryState sex offender registryNational sex offender registry
Probation and ParoleState probation and parole recordsNational probation and parole records
Incarceration RecordsState incarceration historyNational incarceration history
Traffic ViolationsSignificant state traffic violationsNational significant traffic violations
Employment HistoryState-level employment history (if available)National employment history (if available)
Military RecordsNot typically includedMay include military service records
AliasesKnown aliases within the stateKnown aliases nationwide
Fingerprint RecordsState-level fingerprint recordsNational fingerprint records
Drug Testing ResultsNot typically includedMay include federal drug testing results
Immigration StatusNot typically includedImmigration status and related information
Financial HistoryNot typically includedMay include specific financial history (e.g., bankruptcy)
Professional LicensesState professional licensesNational professional licenses

Certifix Live Scan assists in obtaining FBI background checks

Certifix Live Scan is a service designed to assist individuals in obtaining FBI background checks efficiently.

The process involves capturing electronic fingerprints, which are then transmitted securely to the FBI.

This streamlined approach ensures accuracy and quick turnaround times.

Using Certifix Live Scan, applicants can quickly meet various professional or legal requirements.

The service is particularly beneficial for employment screenings, licensing, and personal reviews, making FBI background checks more accessible and stress-free.

Find the nearest Live Scan fingerprinting enrollment center with 1200+ locations nationwide offering live scan submissions and fingerprint card services.


Importance of Accurate Background Checks

Accurate background checks are critical in various sectors, from employment and education to housing and volunteer opportunities.

They help organizations verify the identity and history of individuals, ensuring a safe and trustworthy environment.

Inaccurate or incomplete background checks can lead to significant risks, including security breaches, fraud, and reputational damage.

Therefore, it’s vital to adhere strictly to the guidelines provided by agencies like the FBI to minimize errors and delays.

Managing Expectations and Planning

Understanding the average processing times and factors that may cause delays can help applicants manage their expectations and plan accordingly.

Being aware that electronic fingerprint submissions are typically processed faster than mailed fingerprint cards ensures that applicants choose the most efficient method based on their urgency.

Additionally, knowing the common causes of delays, such as incomplete submissions or peak season backlogs, allows applicants to take preventative measures—like double-checking their information and submitting well in advance.

Value of Expedited Services

For those who require faster results, expedited processing options are a valuable alternative, albeit at an extra cost. These services can significantly reduce waiting times, which can be crucial for time-sensitive matters. However, applicants should confirm the availability and requirements of expedited options through their chosen submission channel to ensure they meet the necessary criteria.

By understanding these processes and options, individuals can better navigate the complexities of FBI background checks, ensuring timely and accurate results that meet their needs.

You Might Also Like:

Get your Live Scan Fingerprinting Near You

Live Scan & ink Card Fingerprinting

Schedule an Appointment Now!

We Offer a Nationwide Network of 1200+ Fingerprint Enrollment Centers

Enjoy this article? Don't forget to share.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *