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RCMP police certificate: to fingerprint or not
My last post reported my experience obtaining a green card based on EB-2. I wanted to create a specific post surrounding the issue of RCMP police certificates as this requirement could cause 5-7 months delays and may be unnecessary in some situations. This non-legal advice is based on applicants living in the United States on H1-B status from Canada.


If one has spent any amount of time in Canada, NVC requires an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) police certificate police certificate for each visa applicant aged 16 years or older. In Canada two types of police certificates exist: a non-finger print name check – and a fingerprint and name check.

Name check only - non-fingerprint based certificates:

The RCMP non-fingerprint check procedure is a simple procedure. One visits an RCMP detachment (ensure you call ahead as some detachments do not provide this service) provides the reason for the request (your NVC letter) a Canadian passport for identification and your last known address in Canada. One’s name is run through “CPIC” Canada’s national criminal database and if nothing appears you’re issued an RCMP certified police certificate. The procedure costs around 20 dollars (cash only) and takes about a half hour. One can usually find and RCMP detachment at a boarder town and you may find this link useful to locate the detachment nearest you:

Make sure you call ahead to the detachment you plan on visiting, confirm if hey offer this service and what the office hours are. Remember that only the RCMP can issue police certificates in Canada, therefore do not bother visiting local or provincial police, as they cannot help you.

Fingerprint based certificates:

The Second type of Canadian police certificate is an RCMP fingerprint based police check where one’s prints are rolled at a local police department and sent to the RCMP Civil Fingerprint Screening Services (CFSS) of Canada for identification. One can find information of this from the following link:

A common understanding should be that this is THE single source in Canada for fingerprint checks and that no other RCMP detachment in Canada or private company can issue a police report based on fingerprints. This is very different compared to the United States where one can walk into any police department and if you can prove that you have an address in the area receive a finger print check within days or even hours.

The problem with obtaining a fingerprint certificates in Canada?

One office, serving the entire country of Canada located in one of the most bureaucratic government cities in North America can cause ? : yes you guessed - huge delays : ) CFSS reports that the checks can take up to 150 days, however based on the reports from others, the average time to process a fingerprint application at CFSS can be more like 5- 6 or even 7 months !

A 6-month delay on top of the long process of applying for a green card can be discouraging, especially when the delay is coming from your own country !

Package three requirements:

Regarding the RCMP police certificate the question most people have in the package three is which certificate does one submit - the fingerprint or the non-fingerprint based ?

NVC’s rule states that if one is a resident of Canada they simply have to visit the nearest RCMP detachment and obtain a certificate that way. In other words they do not have to do finger printing and wait 5-6 months. I’m not an attorney but one has to read this rule carefully as I’ve seen countless people on H1-B proceed with finger printing when this seems to be completely unnecessary.

Read the rule carefully – the key word is “resident” :

An H1-B visa provides absolutely zero residency status in the United States and is a visiting visa based on specific employment. If one has a valid Canadian passport and a former known address in Canada one is still technically a resident of Canada. Revenue Canada certainly considers this true, as even Canadians on H1-B in the United States must technically file income taxes unless they declare that they do not plan on returning. Therefore applicants on H1-B that have lived in Canada exclusively may submit the non-fingerprint certificates.

My wife and I drove to Ontario specifically to have this done. It meant taking a day off work but it was worth it not to delay things 5-7 months. The RCMP office we visited knew the drill and had seen many other folks that day doing the same thing. When we re-entered the US we told the customs person why we had visited Canada and he knew based on our H1-B stamps the reason we had made the long trek - no hastles from him regarding our trip to Canada..

So why do people still proceed with the 5-6 month fingerprint based certificates submitted thought CFSS in Ottawa?

The answer appears to be based on prior posts pointing to NVC being tougher on naturalized Canadians and those that have lived in other countries before Canada. Fingerprinting may prudent in this situation. Other reasons:

1.) Does the last known address on the DS-230 match the police RCMP police certificate? if not fingerprinting may be necessary.

2.) I’ve seen at least one other post of a CP applicant on H1-B born in Canada who was told by her attorney to proceed with a fingerprint based certificate. Perhaps her attorney did not read the NVC rules carefully considering her case –or- is not up to speed on new the NVC procedures that review and approve ALL supporting documentation before the CP interview. Therefore the risk of submitting a non-finger certificate is worth it as the danger of one being turned down at CP for the wrong police certificate virtually eliminated. I know this to be true as I submitted the wrong type of birth certificate and NVC mailed me 2 weeks after package 3 was submitted requesting a long form certificate. I did and my application preceded – certainly a failsafe for CP – as I was not turned away in Montreal.

Can private companies can help?

If you must do FP’ing - as I mentioned previously, only the RCMP CFSS can conduct finger printing -however- I did run across a company in Ottawa that claims to streamline the process and hand deliver applications to the RCMP.

In my personal opinion this service offers little value to those that are living in the United States and require fingerprint certificates. Private services cannot speed the application process in Canada and this site seems to act simply as a middleman. Personally I would visit the RCMP site and follow the instructions + Fedex the application rather that going this route. Moreover I feel that the site unnecessarily directs people into fingerprinting when it is not required ! be warned.

** Off topic - regarding birth certificates - I can recommend a private company to speed up birth certificate applications in the province of Ontario. The department of vital statistic in Ontario is in chaos and those requiring requiring a long form birth record may have to wait up to three to six weeks by mail (expedited !) The average waiting period in other provinces is 48 hours by mail (expedited) The following company can help out:

Will assign a personal courier to wait in line at the only office in Ontario that does same day processing of records. The line for this office in Toronto extends around the block and our courier began his morning at 6:00 AM. We found this service to be amazing, especially as via his cell phone our courier called us and put a clerk on the line who could not find my wife’s birth record. It turned out that the clerk was spelling her name incorrectly : ) !!!! A delay by mail that would have cost us weeks. The total cost was about 80 dollars – well worth it.

Overall, I hope this helps. Good luck to everyone.
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