I am a French citizen, US permanent resident, California resident and currently located in California, US. I am applying for some visa: the visa application requires a letter of verification stating that the applicant has no criminal record, which must be issued from a US state or Federal Bureau of Investigation. In my case, obtaining the US record clearance letter from a US state I believe means that I have to request a record clearance from the California DOJ (Department of Justice) for visa/Iimigration purposes on https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/visaimmigration

Is it faster to get a record clearance letter from the California DOJ (Department of Justice) or the FBI? (faster = time to get the record clearance after applying for it).

  • I don't know but because the FBI says that it's 3-5 days if you submit electronically, I'd go with them.
    – mkennedy
    Feb 15, 2021 at 16:28
  • 3-5 days??? I had to apply on paper because I needed to submit my fingerprints; in the end, I waited 42 days. Maybe laws have changed since I applied in 2018...
    – Alex
    Feb 19, 2021 at 16:42
  • @Alex yes I have read that the FBI has become much faster (I don't know when), from up to 90 days to just a few days. Feb 19, 2021 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


In my impoverishing experience, getting a criminal record clearance letter from the FBI is much faster than the California DoJ but is more expensive (tested in Feb. 2021, using the "live scan fingerprinting" services in San Jose, California):

  • California DoJ (Department of Justice): 10 days to receive their letter (including 3 non-working days). The fingerprint operator did send my request the same day, and I could see that my request was processed on the same day, which one can check on https://applicantstatus.doj.ca.gov/ (the ATI is written down by the fingerprint operator on the "BCIA 8016VISA request for life scan service" form that you had completed prior to the fingerprinting). No email was sent. 48 USD. I used https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/locationsto find the fingerprint agent.
  • FBI: 2 days to receive their letter (including 0 non-working days, and using the standard mail default option, i.e. I didn't pay extra for expedited shipping), and I received a copy of it by email 30 minutes after fingerprinting. 130 USD. I used nbinformation.com to find the live scan fingerprint operator.

Also, beware that if some embassy is asking for a criminal record clearance letter from "a state", they might mean State Department (a.k.a. United States Department of State) and not your state DoJ. That's what happened in my case, and the embassy didn't bother to correct their website.

  • Does State DOJ letter = FBI letter? Or did you have to get yet another confirmation?
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 20, 2021 at 20:57
  • @JonathanReez very different letters. The State DOJ letter doesn't even contain any signature, unlike the FBI letter. The State DOJ letter could be printed by anyone, and it makes no sense to send it by mail. Feb 20, 2021 at 21:01
  • Oh I meant, did you need another letter from the State Department or were they satisfied with the FBI letter?
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 20, 2021 at 21:05
  • 2
    @JonathanReez I'll let you know in a few weeks once the embassy gets back to me regarding my visa application, which I submitted last Wednesday right after the FBI emailed me the letter. FYI Does the United States Department of State issue any US record clearance letter? Feb 20, 2021 at 21:09

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