|It's once again time for Fun With Immigration. For today's task, try getting a police certificate about yourself, from America, while you yourself are not in America. If you feel like playing at home, stop reading now, and try to figure out how you would do this using whatever resources (other than the following paragraph) you have available.|
All still here? Good. I didn't think anyone would want to play along at home. You'd have to be a complete lunatic to want to go through this hassle. If you had played along at home, however, I'll warrant that the first thing you'd have found would be stuff saying you have to apply at a local state police office, get them to take fingerprints, and such, and that otherwise you can't get such a document. Which is, of course, tremendously useful if you're not in America, since there is no local state police office.
If you're persistent, then you'll go digging through the resources the country that requires your police certificate offers, in this case Australia, in the hope of finding a more feasible way. In my case, I asked one of the semi-independent immigration advisor people, one Emily Sutherland, who told me that the immigration department has a sheet with the procedural details on it. About ten minutes of digging more carefully around the Australian Immigration website, along a trail which I now can't duplicate, I managed to find a pdf booklet, with a few paragraphs on page 16 describing how one acquires this document from America. Unlike Google, this includes the advice I paraphrase as "go federal".
Since the text there was unclear on many points, I followed that up by finding the website associated with the FBI's there-named Criminal Justice Information Services, which has a lovely page with a menu of acronyms, and mouseovers on each acronym-link explaining helpfully "This is a graphic link to LEO/IAFIS/NICS/etc." Luckily, the one link I wanted, Fingerprint Identification, was written in full rather than being merely "FI".
Thus we come to the actual step-by-step instructions, and a conflict - the Australian explanation said I'd need to arrange something for international mailing of the results, while the FBI's own explanation provides no mechanism or commentary for such arranging. No details, no contact information other than a form to report a crime, no cigar.
My conclusion in that regard - utilise the collusion of an American cohort. If I mail the fingerprints to them, they mail them and payment to the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy mails the results to the cohort, and the cohort mails them back to me, there will be no need to do anything awkward with the bureau. It sounds like a faff, but surely less of a faff than trying to arrange international communication with the bureaucracy directly.
Further awkwardness in the step-by-step instructions comes in with the demand that the fingerprints be on a standard fingerprint form FD-258. They thoughtfully provide one with a PDF file, presumably on the basis that you can then print out your own fingerprint card, put your fingerprints on it, send it to them with payment, and get it rejected because it's not a proper official fingerprint card. Luckily, it's pale blue on white so you actually can't print it out at all without a posh colour printer, so I'm saved the fun of that. Also, not only is it pale blue on white, but it's 8 inches by 8 inches to make absolutely sure that you can't print it out, since that doesn't even fit on A4 paper let alone letter. The form is obviously not globally standardised since it has a space for social security number, which essentially means the only place to get one is from American police - so it's time for another call for help from the cohort.
So, the final process goes like this:
Easy peasy, eh? Luckily, I get to skip the UK process for acquiring similar documents (though I did do it before and it actually was easy-peasy) since I have a copy left over from last time. Don't you wish you were moving to another country too? You could be a pepper. [10:27] [27 comments]
- Get American cohort to go to a police office and get some copies of form FD-258.
- Get American cohort to mail these to you.
- Get Australian police to do your fingerprinting onto these forms, to make sure they'll be of satisfactory quality.
- Send these fingerprints, along with a letter for the FBI explaining what it is you want, to American cohort.
- American cohort sends documents to FBI offices.
- Three to four weeks later, they say, required document is sent to cohort.
- Cohort sends required document back to you, the requiree.