The UK government requires that all people working with an ‘at risk’ population have a background check, and this includes interns. All Service Internship students and Internship students requesting education, public health, not-for-profit, or legal and justice organizations as any of their three choices are required to bring a Police Check with them to London.
A police check (or background check, as it is sometimes called) is a document stating the criminal convictions (or the absence thereof) of an individual. In order to obtain a police check you have TWO options, please see the descriptions below.
Police checks vary in each country, and in the US can vary from state to state or even precinct to precinct, so it is best for you to contact your nearest police station early on in your study abroad application process to find out the requirements to obtain a criminal record check in your local area. In many cases, you will need to take a proof of ID (such as a passport or driver’s license with a proof of address). In some jurisdictions, the local police can issue the document to you right then and there. Otherwise, they will mail the police check to you once it is complete, which can take several weeks.
1. Option 1: Local (or US State) Police Check
A local or US state police check can be obtained from your town or university police or local sheriff’s department. What you can obtain here is an official letter or document from your police department verifying that you have no criminal record within your own city or state. There is usually a small processing charge for this check that varies by area.
2. Option 2: FBI Criminal Background Check (for US students only)
In the US, the FBI offers a Criminal Background Check that has the ability to highlight charges across any state, making it a more secure and inclusive document. The check costs $18 to run and you are required to have your fingerprints taken by a professional and submit them in a specialized way (you may need to pay an additional fee for the fingerprinting service). You can file the application either directly through the FBI, or through an FBI Approved Channeler.
The FBI is currently experiencing significant delays of 13-15 weeks to process a background check. If you choose this option, we recommend you go through an approved channeler. Note the channeler will charge additional fees, but may be able to provide you with a report within 48 hours of submitting your fingerprints (but do note the soonest fingerprinting appointment may be several weeks away).
All the information you will need about this process can be found at the following link: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks
You may notice that your fingerprints are taken as part of the application for a Tier 4 Visa. This is just to confirm your identity – it is not a police or background check. If required, you will need to submit your fingerprints again as part of the police check process.
Please make sure you begin the police check process early; it could take several weeks to complete the process of making an appointment, being fingerprinted, and obtaining the background check. The check must be completed before you leave for London as you are required to bring it with you to the UK. It is usually not possible to complete the check once you are abroad.
You will upload a scan of the document to MyInternship so that your Internship Mentor can verify it is sufficient for your needs.
You will also need to make sure to bring the original document with you to London so that you can present it at your interview if requested to do so. Most placements will only accept the original version.
I have a criminal record. Will that prevent me from securing an internship?
In most circumstances, having a single offense or very small number of offenses unrelated to the nature of the chosen industry would not prevent a student from securing a placement. However, if you would feel uncomfortable disclosing the contents of your criminal record to a potential employer, you may wish to consider selecting an option which does not require you to produce a police report.
Please note that you may also be required to disclose any criminal offenses on the Tier 4 Visa application. Please see your visa guide for further details.