One of the major tasks you must complete when applying for residency through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program — or any of the economic classes of immigration, for that matter — is obtaining police background checks. You need one of these for each country in which you have lived for longer than six months since your 18th birthday. Quebec and Canada understandably want to ensure that immigrants to their communities do not have a criminal background. If you don’t have any charges or convictions in your past, this stage is just about getting the paperwork done. If you do have one, this could present an issue down the line. Fortunately, I knew going into this process that I’ve never been arrested, let alone charged, in any jurisdiction.
Having already had two International Experience Canada (IEC) work permits, as well as a J1 permit for the United States, I am well versed in how to go about getting these. Since I turned 18, I have lived in Ireland, Canada and the United States, so I will need a certificate from the federal law enforcement agencies of all three countries. Let’s look at them in turn.
I lived in the United States for most of 2012. When I moved back to Canada in March, 2013, I had to get a background check performed through the FBI. Therefore, the routine was familiar to me — it was just a case of performing it again.
It’s quite a simple process. I went to Canadian Fingerprinting Solutions (formerly L1 Identity Solutions) at 200 Rene-Levesque Blvd Ouest, near Old Montreal. Canadian Fingerprinting Solutions has locations across Canada, which you can see here. When you enter one of their locations, just say that you need fingerprinting done for a FBI background check. You need two pieces of photo identification; I brought my passport and Irish driving license. They will take your prints, give you a form to fill out to send to the FBI address in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and send you on your way once you have paid $36.75 for their services. You shouldn’t be there longer than five minutes.
With a sheet containing your fingerprints and the application form, you’re almost ready to send the items to West Virginia. Fill out the form clearly and accurately. Also make sure that you keep the sheet with the fingerprints in pristine condition. If it gets damaged, they may not be able to perform the necessary checks.
The next step is to obtain a money order from your local post office. This covers payment to the FBI itself to perform the background check, and costs $18 USD. Once the amount has been converted into Canadian dollars and taxes and fees have been applied, this comes to $24 CA. While you’re at the post office, you may as well take the opportunity to send the form and the fingerprints to the address below. I used Canada Post’s Xpresspost service, which ensures faster shipping and a tracked package. This cost $27.34. It can take a couple of months for the background check to be posted to your home, but this time I received mine within a month.
FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
Total cost: $88.09 CA
Things are a bit more straightforward in my homeland when it comes to getting this police background. I went to my local police (Garda Siochána) station, explained what I needed, and filled out the form. Every member of the force should know which form you need to fill out, given that these requests have been coming at them in huge numbers in recent years due to increased emigration from the country. Fill out the form, supply a photocopy of the photo page of your passport along with a stamped, addressed envelope, and the item should be posted to you within a couple of weeks. The entire process is free.
The next post will deal with getting a background check from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).