State Department will access FBI criminal records

State Department will access FBI criminal records

The State Department has adopted an interim regulation that will let it access FBI criminal history records when processing visa applications.

In the new process, fingerprints of visa applicants are matched against prints in the National Criminal Information Center databases.

The regulation, which took effect yesterday, calls for FBI criminal history record summaries to be placed in State's Lookout database. State uses the database to screen people entering the country. Visa applicants' names will be checked against the summaries to see if they have criminal histories, according to a department notice in the Feb. 25 Federal Register.

If a Lookout database search indicates that a visa applicant has a record, State will require the applicant to submit fingerprints and pay a fingerprint-processing fee. Then, the department will send the fingerprints to the FBI to verify whether or not the summary criminal record data in Lookout has to do with the applicant.

The new regulations are mandated by the USA Patriot Act, which Congress passed in late September to tighten security measures and help foil terrorism. A State official said the new rules are intended to keep out 'any ineligibles.'

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