Background checks can take a few seconds to days. The timeline totally depends on the type of background check. Background checks can be for both employment and housing needs. Depending on the type of job type, background check timelines can differ. But background checks are a regular part of all job recruitment in the USA. Why? Data says that 1 in 3 Americans have a criminal history. Hence, employers do not want to risk it. It is always better to opt for background checks to ensure safety. 

But people have this impending question, “how long does a background check take?” Employers, landlords and applicants are all stuck with this query. In this article, we will answer this question and more. Let us find out how long a background check takes to help you understand better. 

Different background checks and their timelines

There are many different kinds of background checks. Each timeline depends on the depth of the search. How far back the checks go is what might result in the extra time used. Check them out below. 

  • Federal Background Checks

The Federal background check takes 1 – 2 days. They check the background across the 94 U.S. federal courts for violations of criminal law. They check tax invasions, felonies, criminal charges, fraud, and more. They also check things like embezzlement, identity theft, and interstate trafficking.

Depending on the seriousness of the job, background checks can go deeper. But these do not check state records. Why? This functions only on the federal level of law authorities. Generally, most employers tend to run both federal and state background checks. But the whole process is complete within 1-2 days.  

  • Fingerprint Background Checks

Fingerprint background checks can take up to 3 days to show results. These are more in-depth analytical reports. Depending on the job requirement, they can go back up to 5 – 10 years. They match the applicant’s fingerprint with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Then they match it with their database of 35 million Americans to provide authentic data. The humongous size of the database is a major reason for the delay. 

  • International Background Checks

They conduct international background checks if a person applies for an overseas position. These checks can take weeks because authorities coordinate with international databases. But these background checks happen only under special circumstances. 

  • Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks can take 1 – 2 weeks. They do a deep background check, including misdemeanors and felony charges. They check and verify against all national and state-wise criminal data. This search can go back up to 5 – 10 years, depending on the state of residence. They trace sexual offences and social security numbers under this category of searches.  

Can background checks be fast-tracked? 

Background checks can be fast-tracked with the use of external agencies and software. Different background screening software can do background checks in a jiffy. Even external agencies who have prior experience in this area can do the work much faster. An outsourced background check is the best option if you need to speed up the hiring process. 

How can background checks get delayed?

Are you worried about why your background check? Is there an unforeseen delay? Background checks can get delayed due to multiple reasons. Some of the most common reasons are,

  • Lack of paper trail
  • International experience
  • Name verification
  • If there is a criminal history, then there might be re-verifications
  • A discrepancy in academic and employment records
  • Documents are unclear
  • Unsigned authorization forms
  • Delay in submitting documents
  • Inaccurate information
  • Multiple checks
  • Multiple residences

To avoid such delay, applicants can take some steps. This can include,

  • Providing accurate information and not gross information
  • Submitting all documents on time
  • Submitting all the latest documents; backdated papers will work
  • Sign all the release and authorisation forms on time.

As an employee, once you have this information, you can enquire with employers if there is an unnatural delay. 

If a rejection of an application is due to a background check, you can ask for a copy of the report. If there are any faults in the check, you can easily call for a recheck or lodge a complaint. But to do that, you need to get a report copy to prove yourself. 

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