Frequently Asked Questions
CBC is the abbreviation for Criminal Background Check
AFS-USA requires anyone 18 years old and above applying as a host family member or volunteer to undergo a criminal background check.
Why national criminal backgrounds check?
- AFS is required by State Department regulations and CSIET Standards to administer background checks.
- It is common practice for any organization that works with or has direct contact with youth/minors to require criminal background checks.
Who pays for the criminal background check?
- AFS USA will cover the cost of the criminal background check for volunteers and host family members
Are AFS-USA staff members required to undergo a national criminal background check?
- Yes, all staff in AFS-USA must undergo an annual criminal background check
How does the criminal background check process work?
- An online process for conducting criminal background checks has been established through a secure website.
- Each member of the host family household and volunteer applicant 18 and above at the time of student arrivals in the US will be asked to sign (either on paper or electronically) a consent form authorizing AFS-USA to conduct a criminal background check. Further, any host family member that turns 18 while hosting must complete an additional background check per State Department regulations.
- Generally the checks conducted by First Advantage take less than 24 hours to be completed from provision of details to generation of a report.
- Pennsylvania Residents – Pennsylvania host families and volunteers must complete three additional requirements: a Pennsylvania State Police Search, Child Abuse History Clearance and FBI Fingerprint Background Checks. The FBI Fingerprint Background Check is only required if you have not been a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the previous 10 years consecutively. These requirements apply to the host parents and any additional adult(s) 18 years and older responsible for the direct care, well-being and/or supervision of a minor exchange student. For more information on these requirements, please visit Pennsylvania Additional Screening and Mandated Reporting Requirements.
What information will be required to run a criminal background check?
- The provider of the criminal background check will need to include their legal name, social security number and date of birth of all individuals 18 years and older.
What is included in a national criminal background check?
- The criminal background check report includes a search of the national sex offender registry and state by state criminal records.
- The background check report does not list any credit or financial information.
- The CBC shows whether or not an individual is a registered sex offender and/or has any criminal/traffic convictions.
What if someone in the household does not have a Social Security Number?
- If a host family member or volunteer does not have an SSN, s/he will need to complete a Consent Form and International Search Request Form. These forms can be submitted to the Government Affairs and Compliance Coordinator via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-751-2045. An International Search can take between 2-6 weeks to complete.
What happens if my application to host or volunteer with AFS-USA is rejected due to a conviction on my criminal background check report?
- In these cases, AFS-USA will forward you a copy of your criminal background check report, along with an “Adverse Action” letter.
- This letter will be sent by certified mail
Will I have to undergo a national criminal background check with AFS-USA if I already have had a background check due to my job or other volunteer roles?
- Yes. Even though you may have undergone a criminal background check as required by your job or other volunteer work, you will still have to go through a national criminal background check for AFS USA.
- There are many different types of background checks and every organization and company’s background check requirements may be different (i.e. require credit checks and criminal background check but no sex offender, etc) and they also may have different criteria by which an applicant would be accepted or denied.
Can background checks be transferred from a volunteer application to a host family application?
- Yes. If the background check is valid it will automatically be transferred from the volunteer's record the the host family application.
Can background checks be transferred from a host family application to a volunteer application?
- No, host family member’s CBC cannot be transferred to a volunteer application because a volunteer CBC must be submitted during the registration process to be in line with the 365 day requirement.
Why can’t a background check from a host family application be transferred to a volunteer application?
- US Department of State regulations specify that a volunteer CBC must be submitted annually, or every 365 days, while the period of validity for a host family CBC can be up to 18 months, which exceeds the period of validity for a volunteer CBC.
- In the majority of cases, the period of validity of a host family member's CBC does not fall within the 365 day range required for the renewal of his or her volunteer registration.
- Furthermore, it is more common for a volunteer to become a host family (sometimes having multiple services cases during the same academic year), than it is for a host family member to become a volunteer while they are hosting.
When are background checks valid? What is the validity period?
- Criminal Background Checks for Volunteers: volunteers must complete a criminal background check (CBC) every year (365 days). Volunteers’ CBCs may not be transferred from a host family application to a volunteer application.
- Criminal Background Checks for Host Families: Host family members CBCs are valid for the current and/or upcoming school calendar. The validity of the CBCs depends on when the host family members submit the CBCs. CBCs submitted for host family members between January and September are valid until June 30th of the following year. Thus, the validity of a CBC for a host family member can be up to 18 months and may be valid for several hosting cycles.
- If the CBC was submitted on October 1, 2015, then the CBC is valid until June 30, 2017. This period includes: NH15 replacement family, SH16 and NH16.
- If the CBC was submitted on February 1, 2016 then the CBC is valid until June 30, 2017. This period includes: NH15 replacement, NH16 and SH17.