How Far Back Does a Fingerprint Background Check Go in Illinois?
Some states limit background checks to 7 years, while some do at 10. In Illinois, the state limits fingerprint background checks to 7 years.
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A fingerprint background check is capable of yielding a more in-depth and comprehensive criminal history report and is typically reserved for specific employment and professional license purposes, so many people have questioned how far back does fingerprint background check go.
Interestingly, a fingerprint background check can go very far back, even into the pre-teen years in some states (when required).
This complete guide to fingerprint checks explain when and why a fingerprint background check is used, as well as how far it goes back in different states and situations.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) places some restrictions on background check reporting, such as a 7-year limit on reporting of arrests, non-convictions, and adverse information not criminally relevant (e.g. lawsuits, paid debts, etc.).30
But do these restrictions extend to fingerprint background checks, and how far back does fingerprint background check go?
This is a very tricky area to parse out as there are so many qualifiers, stipulations, and variations in state laws and practices.
Firstly, the (FCRA) technically does not extend to fingerprint checks which only investigate public criminal records and are therefore not considered consumer reports.
Secondly, many states have adopted the FCRA’s 7-year rule for background checks and extended it to cover most fingerprint checks as well.15 Thus, a typical fingerprint check for employment would go back a minimum of 7 years, but longer when required.
Thirdly, agencies can typically request to have the fingerprint check investigated further back, and such a request is generally honored in the interest of caution and safety.
Finally, a fingerprint background check can technically look back indefinitely even into the teen and pre-teen years, and such a check conducted by a government agency or for government purposes almost certainly will.
Understanding the significance of state law in the background check process is critical and opens up the question of how far back does fingerprint background check go in various states.
Many states, such as California and Texas have adopted the FCRA 7-year rule to cover most background checks, but there are generally exceptions to this rule, such as when the income of the position is greater than $75K or when the job is for a government agency.22 Texas also has an exception to the 7-year rule for jobs requiring in-home services/deliveries.24
It’s also important to understand that while a state may honor the 7-year rule in general practice for fingerprint checks, they are not legally required to and can extend the check back when needed.
The following table provides a look at how far back does fingerprint background check go in several states across the country.
|How Far Back Does A Fingerprint Background Check Go?||State Time Frame and Resources|
|Arizona||Agency: Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS)|
Some cities and counties limit to 7 years, including the cities of Glendale and Phoenix.
Relevant Resource: Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) § 41-1750
|California||Agency: California Department of Justice|
State: 7 years
Relevant Resource: Applicant Background Check Status
|Illinois||Agency: Illinois State Police (ISP) Bureau of Identification|
Also Relevant: UCIA (Uniform Conviction Information Act)
|Texas||Agency: Texas Department of Public Safety|
State: 7 years
Exception: In-home services require up to 20 years lookback.
|Virginia||Agency: Virginia State Police|
State: Back to 18 years of age.
LiveScan fingerprinting is a fairly new technology for obtaining digital fingerprints, used by several companies across the nation, including IdentoGO, PrintScan, First Advantage, and many others. The process of obtaining prints is cleaner, faster, and more convenient in a number of ways, and many people want to know “What does a LiveScan fingerprint check reveal?”23
A LiveScan fingerprint check works the same as a manual fingerprint check, with the exception of how the fingerprints are taken and the speed at which the check can be processed.
Digital fingerprints are run through state and FBI databases and will generate a Criminal History Record Information Report (CHRI). The CHRI reveals all federal and state criminal records allowed by the state’s laws or common practice, including:8
To follow up on what a LiveScan check reveals, it’s necessary to establish how far back does a LiveScan background check go. LiveScan background checks typically look back a minimum of 7 years into an individual’s criminal record.
However, some sensitive job positions or situations often require a longer lookback period (healthcare, childcare, in-home services, education, banking, attorneys, etc.), and a LiveScan fingerprint check used as part of an FBI background check (for law enforcement, government officials, security officers, state employees, etc.) will go back indefinitely.19
IdentoGO is a company that provides LiveScan fingerprinting services for personal, professional, and government use.
IdentoGO fingerprinting is invaluable in conducting a thorough criminal records search at the state and federal level for various scenarios requiring a more in-depth and accurate criminal history. Some examples include:
IdentoGO fingerprint requests are typically processed through a state agency such as the Department of Justice and then sent to the FBI for a federal search. Background check results are returned to the requesting agency.
The answer to what does IdentoGO check for is the same as the answer above to what does a LiveScan reveal. IdentoGO fingerprint checks are used in searching an individual’s state and federal-level criminal history.
IdentoGO can also be used to order an FBI Identity History Check for personal records.12 Essentially, IdentoGO will investigate all state and federal criminal records requested by the ordering agency.
How far back does IdentoGO check depend entirely upon two things: the state of residence and the purpose of the fingerprint check.
As discussed above, each state has its own standards for how far back employment background checks, name-based checks, and even fingerprint background checks can go.
In California, a fingerprint background check goes back only 7 years, unless the position in question pays more than $75,000 per annum or can be shown to require a lengthier investigation. Other states, such as Arizona, are permitted to look back indefinitely into a person’s criminal history.
The reason for the fingerprint check is the second crucial component. A fingerprint background check that is conducted as part of a larger FBI background check will almost always look back further than 7 years and may even investigate juvenile records in some cases.15
In contrast, a fingerprint background check for standard employment purposes will go back as far as the nature of the position warrants.
Sometimes, IndentoGO fingerprint checks are used as part of a larger FBI background check, usually when screening potential state employees, law enforcement officers, military, and so forth. People want to know “How long does IdentoGO FBI background check take?” FBI background checks are generally much more involved than standard checks and look back much further.
Additionally, an FBI check has a much broader scope and looks at many different types of records. Because of the depth and breadth of this type of background check, results can take several months in some cases.3
Individuals wondering “How do I check my IdentoGO status?” will need to enter their name and their Universal Enrollment Number (provided at the time of fingerprinting) to view and/or verify their background check status through IDEMIA’s status check portal.13
Some people have also asked, “How do I find my IdentoGO results?” IdentoGO offers various services, some for professional use and some for personal use.
When an individual has ordered an FBI Identity History Check for personal use through IdentoGO, they can expect to receive an emailed link to access their background check results.10
However, when the background check has been ordered by an employer or other third-party entity, the individual will have to contact the ordering party directly to obtain a copy of the background check report.
Some job positions which are sensitive in nature may require a more accurate, in-depth fingerprint background check for employment.
Examples might include:
Individuals undergoing a fingerprint background check for employment must submit fingerprints using a digital LiveScan fingerprinting location or by mail using the Standard Fingerprint Form (FD-258).26 The method of submitting prints depends on the state’s law, as some states require digital printing exclusively and others still use physical prints.
Fingerprint background checks for employment are regulated by the state’s Department of Justice, Department of Public Safety, or State Police Department, and the prints are submitted to this state agency which then forwards them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The fingerprints are checked against the state and FBI’s criminal databases to generate a Criminal History Record Information Report (CHRI) – a complete record of state and federally registered criminal offenses.27
What shows up on a fingerprint background check is actually fairly straightforward. The CHRI includes an individual’s FBI Identity History Summary as well as the state’s criminal record report.23
The fingerprint check may also include personal identifying information such as name, birthdate, address, employer, aliases, etc.16
The criminal records may include any incident to which an individual’s fingerprints are linked, such as police reports, car accidents, arrests, charges, convictions, and sentencing information.9
Exactly what shows up depends upon the reason for the fingerprint check. For example, in professional licensing cases, the requesting agency may only be permitted to receive conviction information while in cases where vulnerable populations are concerned (e.g. children), convictions and non-convictions/arrests may be viewable.11
Understandably, people also want to know how long does a fingerprint background check take. Although there is no guaranteed time frame in most cases, the length of time depends on a few factors.
The most straightforward reports conducted using digital fingerprints may be processed in as little as a week in some cases. At other times, the fingerprint background check can take a few weeks or more.16
There is sometimes confusion regarding how a fingerprint background check and an FBI fingerprint check differ, and in most cases, it is okay for these two terms to be used interchangeably. However, a fingerprint background check for employment purposes is regulated by the state agency which holds the state’s central record repository.4
The state agency forwards the prints to the FBI for the FBI fingerprint check. Technically, the FBI fingerprint check is one of two parts or components of the fingerprint background check sometimes used for employment or licensure.7,14
Additionally, the term “FBI fingerprint check” should not be confused with “FBI background check,” as an FBI background check is a comprehensive investigation of all records pertaining to a specific individual used primarily for law enforcement officers or other individuals in positions of trust and authority. The FBI fingerprint check, again, is one part of this overarching process.21
Another common question about fingerprint background checks is “Do fingerprint background checks show expunged records?” The answer: it depends. These two factors influence whether expunged records show up on fingerprint background checks:
1. The state’s expungement law.
Some states have provisions for true expungement which removes a criminal record from law enforcement and all official databases (e.g. Illinois State Police). In this case, the expunged record will not show up on a fingerprint check.5
However, many states only have provisions for record sealing (sometimes called expungement!) which blocks the records from public view but retains them in state databases.2
2. The reason for the fingerprint check.
If the records have only been sealed and not truly expunged, there are some situations when a fingerprint background check may show them. Usually, this happens when the fingerprint check is used for law enforcement or criminal justice purposes or as part of a larger FBI background check.25
Illinois is an example of a state which allows “true expungement” for criminal records (see Illinois State Police – Guide to Understanding Criminal History Record Check Information).28 At the opposite end of the spectrum is the State of Alaska, which has no provision for expungement at all.29
In the state of Arizona, individuals in many professions are required by law to maintain an active fingerprint clearance card, which is different from a one-time fingerprint background check. As of 2009, there are two types of fingerprint clearance cards: regular and Level 1 (more strict).
In terms of how far back does a fingerprint clearance card go, AZDPS looks back indefinitely, with few exceptions,6 to determine whether an individual has committed any of the precluding offenses listed (see Arizona Revised Statute 41-1758.03 for regular fingerprint clearance cards and ARS 41-1758.07 for Level 1).34, 35, 1
In summary, fingerprint background checks are most often used for the purpose of employment or licensure in sensitive positions. They may be conducted as a stand-alone background check or as part of a larger 1) employment background check, 2) licensure background check, or 3) FBI (federal) background check.
Although some fingerprint background checks can look all the way back to the pre-teen years, knowing where and why the check is being conducted is necessary to answer exactly how far back does fingerprint background check go.
Some states limit background checks to 7 years, while some do at 10. In Illinois, the state limits fingerprint background checks to 7 years.
Although 7 years is not a hard-and-fast rule for how far back does a background check go for employment, many states and companies have adopted this timeframe as a general rule of thumb for employment screening. However, candidates should understand that in most states, the employer can generally use their discretion in determining how many years they wish to look back at criminal records (except arrests and non-convictions), driving records, and residential/employment history.
Anyone who has wondered how far back does a federal background check go is in good company, as many have asked this question. Technically, a federal background check can go back indefinitely and FBI fingerprint checks conducted by law enforcement or for criminal justice purposes can be expected to pull records from an individual’s entire lifetime.20
Federal (FBI) background checks are not only used for criminal justice purposes but also for employment, and some people want to know how far back do federal background checks go for employment. While federal checks can technically look back indefinitely into an individual’s criminal history, the specific length of time is usually dictated by the nature of the employment and the depth of background check that is justifiable.
Another frequently asked question, “How far back does a criminal background check go?,” touches on the FCRA 7-year-rule on reporting of arrests and non-convictions, though there are no federal restrictions on reporting of criminal convictions. Addressing how far back do criminal background checks go requires looking at the individual state and organization requesting the background check, as many default to this “7-year lookback” rule when performing or ordering criminal background checks.
Although Florida is the only state to officially define the term “Level 2 background check,” many states use this phrase informally to represent a more rigorous background screening, leading many to ask how far back does a Level 2 background check go? The FCRA does not place general limits on level 2 background checks, so these in-depth federal and state investigations can go back indefinitely if the reason for the check is ample justification for the depth (e.g. individuals seeking to work with children or other vulnerable populations).
The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) regulates fingerprint background checks in New York, and how far back does a fingerprint background check go in this state depends upon the reason for the report. Since criminal records are not public in New York, employers can only request a fingerprint background check if a state or local law permits (because of the nature of the position), and while most criminal background checks in NY look back 7 years, some fingerprint checks may look back further upon request.17,18
Anyone who is wondering “How long does it take to get fingerprints back from Identogo (NY)?” can rest assured that their digital live scan systems can obtain and securely transmit fingerprints immediately, allowing background check results to be returned in a matter of days.12
Fingerprint background checks in Texas can go as far back as 7 years through the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, in-home services require up to 20 years to look back.
Fingerprint background check in Virginia looks back up to when the subject is 18 years old. The Virginia State Police conducts the fingerprint background checks.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) conducts fingerprint background checks and can go back through the records of the subject indefinitely. However, there are some counties and cities that limit it up to 7 years.
The California Department of Justice conducts the fingerprint background check in California. The department is limited to look back and check on records up to 7 years ago.
1Arizona Department of Public Safety. (2022). Fingerprint Clearance Card. Public Services Portal. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from <https://www.azdps.gov/services/public/fingerprint>
2Certifix Livescan. (2022, May 18). What Will a Background Check Show After My Expungement? Certifix Livescan. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from <https://blog.certifixlivescan.com/what-will-a-background-check-show-after-my-expungement/>
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5Cornell University. (2022). Kentucky – Expungement. ILR CJEI Criminal Record Online Toolkit. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from <https://cjei.cornell.edu/fix-your-record/sealing-and-expungement/expungement/kentucky-expungement>
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8FYI Fingerprints. (2022). Live Scan Information. FYI Fingerprints. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from <https://www.fyifingerprints.com/services/live-scan-information/>
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17New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. (2022). Criminal History Record FAQs. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from <https://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/ojis/documents/FAQs-CHRI-Access.pdf>
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25XpungeChicago. (2022, March 9). Do Expunged Records Show Up on a Fingerprint Background Check? XpungeChicago. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from <https://xpungechicago.com/do-expunged-records-show-up-on-a-fingerprint-background-check/>
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29Department Of Administration. (2022). State Of Alaska. Official Alaska State Website. Retrieved December 02, 2022, from <https://www.alaska.gov/>
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