Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to questions that we commonly get. If the question you have isn't in the FAQ list below, please contact us. The outline below will help you find a topic or specific question.

FAQ Outline

General questions

I just received a letter saying that my fingerprint clearance card was denied or suspended. Whom do I call if I have questions?

If you have questions about why your card was denied or suspended, you should contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (602) 223-2279. If you have questions about requesting a good cause exception, you should contact the Board of Fingerprinting. (If you're not sure what a good cause exception is, please see the frequently asked question "What is a good cause exception?" below.) Please see our Contact Information page to learn how to get in touch with the Board staff.

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Was it your agency that denied or suspended my fingerprint clearance card?

No. The Department of Public Safety denied or suspended your fingerprint clearance card. The Board of Fingerprinting is an agency independent from DPS. If you have questions about why you fingerprint clearance card was denied or suspended, you should contact DPS at (602) 223-2279.

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What is a good cause exception?

A good cause exception is approval for an individual to receive a fingerprint clearance card despite his or her criminal history. If your fingerprint clearance card was denied or suspended, you normally need a good cause exception to get the fingerprint clearance card. To get a good cause exception, you must demonstrate that you are rehabilitated and not a recidivist (or, in a few cases, that you have not been convicted of an offense that would cause your fingerprint clearance card to be denied or suspended). The burden of demonstrating rehabilitation is on you, not the Board staff.

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Since my fingerprint clearance card was denied or suspended, can I keep working?

Probably not. Most agencies require an employee to be removed from the position immediately. However, the Board of Fingerprinting does not involve itself in employment-related issues. You should direct any questions to your employer.

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Fingerprint clearance cards and criminal-history information

What types of jobs or volunteer work require fingerprint clearance cards?

The following jobs or activities require a fingerprint clearance card. (Some of the activities require a Level I fingerprint clearance card. For more information, see the section below on the difference between Level I and standard fingerprint clearance cards.)

(Please note that the Legislature periodically adds new programs to the fingerprint-clearance-card system, so this list may not be complete. Also, this list does not include programs that the Legislature may or will be adding to the fingerprint-clearance-card system but which have not yet been approved by the Legislature.)

  • Adoption (through the Department of Economic Security)
  • Assisted-living-facility managers
  • Board of Fingerprinting members and employees
  • Charter school employment
  • Child care home provider
  • Child day care
  • Child nutrition program
  • Child Protective Services employment
  • Child welfare and adolescent behavioral health treatment
  • Contractors, subcontractors, or vendors (including employees) for public or charter schools
  • Department of Economic Security employment (non-Child Protective Services)
  • Department of Emergency and Military Affairs employment
  • Developmental disabilities (work with individuals with developmental disabilities)
  • Domestic-violence-shelter employment
  • Exceptional student services program
  • Foster home licensure (through the Department of Economic Security)
  • Health-science students and clinical assistants
  • Home-health-agency employment
  • Homeless-shelter employment
  • JOBS/WIA programs
  • Nursing-care-institution administrators
  • Real-estate licensure
  • Residential- or nursing-care-institution employment
  • Teacher certification
  • Volunteer foster grandparent program

In addition, Arizona nursing schools may require a fingerprint clearance card. The clinical work you must complete as part of the nursing degree may include activity that requires a fingerprint clearance card. However, please note that the fingerprint clearance card is separate from the fingerprinting requirements that you must meet as part of your application to be certified nursing assistant or a registered nurse. You may be required to submit to an investigation by the Arizona Board of Nursing, and a fingerprint clearance card is not a guarantee that you will be granted certification or licensure from the Board of Nursing.

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What is the difference between Level I and standard fingerprint clearance cards?

Please follow this link to go to the section of our page entitled "Application Process" page that discusses the difference between Level I and standard fingerprint clearance cards.

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The information on my criminal record is incorrect. Whom should I call to fix it?

If you believe your criminal history records are inaccurate, contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to challenge them. The Board almost always will assume that the information in your criminal history records is accurate. For charges that took place within Arizona, call DPS at (602) 223-2222 to challenge your record. For charges that took place outside of Arizona, call the FBI at (304) 625-5590.

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Good cause exception application process

General information

How long will the good cause exception application process take?

The length of the process depends on a number of factors. However, from the time the Board receives a complete application package and the criminal records that we order from the DPS, the Board will conduct an expedited review within 20 days. (We normally receive the criminal records about seven to 10 days after we receive your application.) At the expedited review, the Board will either grant you a fingerprint clearance card or schedule you for a hearing. If you must appear at a hearing, the process may take an additional three to four months.

Other factors that may affect the length of processing time include the following, among others.

  • Whether your application is complete on submission. An incomplete application package will delay your appeal.
  • The amount of time you spend completing your application.

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How can I get information on the status of my case?

You can use our case-status page to find out the status of your case. The Web site is updated every day at 8:00 p.m.

In addition, you may contact the Board staff. Under no circumstances should you contact Board members about your good cause exception application. To contact the Board staff, please see our Contact Information page.

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What criteria do the Board members use when deciding whether to grant a good cause exception?

The Board applies the following criteria to the particular circumstances of your case and criminal history. By law, the Board must consider all of the criteria that appear in A.R.S. § 41–619.55(E).

  1. The extent of the person's criminal record.
  2. The length of time that has elapsed since the offense was committed.
  3. The nature of the offense.
  4. Any applicable mitigating circumstances.
  5. The degree to which the person participated in the offense.
  6. The extent of the person's rehabilitation, including:
    1. Completion of probation, parole or community supervision.
    2. Whether the person paid restitution or other compensation for the offense.
    3. Evidence of positive action to change criminal behavior, such as completion of a drug treatment program or counseling.
    4. Personal references attesting to the person's rehabilitation.

The Board also considers any substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect made by Child Protective Services or a similar child-welfare agency in another state.

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Getting a good-cause-exception application

How do I get the Board's good-cause-exception application?

You can download a copy of our application by following this link. If you have trouble downloading or printing the applicant, you can contact us to ask that we mail you a copy of the application form.

Please note: you should not download the applicant and submit it until your application for a fingerprint clearance card has been denied, or your card has been suspended. Do not submit an application until you receive the Department of Public Safety notice of denial or suspension because you'll need to include information from that notice on your application form. If you submit the application without this information, we will send the application back to you.

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Application requirements

What are your application requirements?

Our application requirements are outlined in our application package, which you can download at this link. However: you should not submit the package until you receive the Department of Public Safety notice of denial or suspension.

I didn't get or keep copies of my court documents or police reports. What should I do?

You should contact the appropriate courts or police departments to get copies of the records. Some courts may require you to pay a fee to conduct a records search or make copies of records. You are responsible for paying those fees.

In some cases, the courts (and, less frequently, the police departments) will not have copies of the records because of the length of time since the case. In particular, most courts will purge records a certain number of years after the case is closed. You should ask the court for a statement that it searched its records but could not locate a case. This statement will show either that you were not convicted of the offense in that court or that you completed any sentencing requirements because a court will not purge records unless the case was closed.

For more information about the requirement to submit court documents, please download our guide on court documents.

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May I submit reference letters in addition to the two reference forms that the Board requires?

Yes. You may submit as many reference letters as you like. However, you must submit at least two of the reference forms that are part of the application package, and those forms must meet the requirements described in the application instructions. If you need additional copies of the reference form, you may download it at this link or by visiting our Forms page.

Any reference letters that you submit in addition to the reference forms should be signed and dated. You may submit reference letters that were not specifically written for the good cause exception application (i.e., a copy of a reference letter you have that was not written to the Board but rather for some other purpose). However, keep in mind that these letters often do not carry as much weight as letters specifically written for the good cause exception application process.

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My criminal offense was minor and occurred a long time ago. Do I really have to submit all the information asked for in the application?

Yes. Even if your offense or criminal charges were from a long time ago, you must meet all application requirements.

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Expedited review

What is an expedited review?

An expedited review is the Board's initial review of your application. You will not be present for this review. Based only on the application materials you have submitted, the Board will decide one of two things: (1) that you should be given a fingerprint clearance card, without having to appear at an administrative hearing, or (2) that you should appear at an administrative hearing. Please note that you may have to appear at a hearing, even if you meet all application requirements.

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What criteria do the Board members consider when deciding whether to approve an application under an expedited review?

When conducting an expedited review, the Board applies the criteria that appear in A.R.S. § 41–619.55(E). Although the Board also applies these criteria to individuals who appear at a hearing, the Board is looking to see whether it can approve applicants without them needing to appear at a hearing. In general, the sorts of individuals who are approved under an expedited review are applicants who have very limited criminal histories, who have not committed an offense recently, who meet all application requirements, and whose offenses are not serious in nature. Obversely, applicants who have extensive criminal histories, who committed crimes recently, who do not meet the application requirements, or who commit serious crimes normally have to appear at a hearing. Also, applicants who are awaiting trial, have outstanding warrants, or who have not completed their sentences typically must appear at a hearing.

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What happens after the expedited review?

The fastest way to find out the results of your expedited review is to check the status of your case online by going to this page: http://www.azbof.gov/status_search.asp. You should wait until after 8:00 p.m. the day of the Board meeting; the Web site will not be updated before then. Alternatively, you can contact the Board staff on the Monday following the Board meeting. (Please see our Contact Information page. Also, please note that, on occasion, publication of the results will be delayed.)

If you are approved for a good cause exception at an expedited review, the Board staff will send two letters. The first letter will go to the address we have on record for you, and it notifies you that you were approved for a fingerprint clearance card. The second letter goes to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and it requests that DPS issue a fingerprint clearance card. After a couple of weeks, you should receive your fingerprint clearance card.

If you were not approved for a good cause exception at an expedited review, the Board staff will send you a letter. This letter will explain that you will need to appear at an administrative hearing and will give a tentative date for your hearing. Please note that this date may change and is provided only to help give you a sense of about how long you will need to wait for a hearing. At least 20 days prior to your hearing, the Board staff will send a formal notice of hearing by certified mail. This notice will give you the date, time, and location of your hearing.

If you have any change of address during the appeal process, you should contact the Board staff immediately to be sure you get all correspondence.

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Administrative hearing

What happens at a hearing?

If you have to appear at a hearing, you must arrive at the time, date, and place specified in the notice of hearing. When your hearing begins, you will appear in a room before a hearing officer (also called an administrative law judge). The administrative law judge will swear you in and then ask you questions specific to your case. The administrative law judge will also give you an opportunity to make a statement. In this statement, you should explain why you should be granted a fingerprint clearance card, despite your criminal history. You may want to describe positive steps you have taken since your most recent offense to change your criminal behavior.

The hearing itself will be informal in the sense that it will be much like a conversation between you and the hearing officer. However, you should not be disrespectful to the hearing officer. Also, you should keep in mind that in this process, you have the burden of proving that you are rehabilitated. Although the administrative law judge may have questions to ask, you should be prepared to demonstrate why you should be given a fingerprint clearance card.

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Do I need to bring anything to the hearing?

No. However, you may want to bring documentation that you have not submitted to the Board. In particular, if the status of a criminal case changes, you should bring a copy of any relevant documentation to your hearing. Also, if you failed to submit documentation that was an application requirement, you should bring a copy. Please be sure to bring an extra copy of any documentation because the administrative law judge may not be able to make a photocopy.

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Can I bring people with me to the hearing?

Yes. You can bring people to serve as character witnesses. It is common for applicants to bring employers, friends, family members, or counselors. However, space in the hearing room may be limited, so please consider bringing no more than three people. Please note that the administrative law judge may, in the interest of time, limit the number of people who speak.

Although not a requirement, you may also bring an attorney representative to speak on your behalf.

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Where will the hearing be held?

All hearings take place in Phoenix. Your notice of hearing will give you a specific location in Phoenix.

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Am I required to attend the hearing?

Yes. If, without good reason, you do not appear at your hearing, your good cause exception application will be denied.

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Can I participate in the hearing by telephone?

On occasion, the administrative law judge will allow applicants to participate in their hearings by telephone. In order to qualify, an applicant must demonstrate that personally attending the hearing would be an undue hardship. The administrative law judges rarely grant requests to participate in a hearing by telephone.

If you wish to participate in your hearing by telephone, you must submit a written request to the Board staff. You should submit this request as soon as possible–preferably as soon as you get your notice of hearing–in writing by fax, mail, or e-mail (info@azbof.gov). The written request should explain, with as much detail possible, why you are asking to participate by telephone. If you do not receive explicit authorization from the Board to participate in your hearing by telephone, you should attend in person. If you do not get a response from the Board before your hearing, you should attend in person. Failure to attend your hearing may cause your good cause exception application to be denied.

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Can I have my hearing rescheduled?

It may be possible to schedule your hearing for a date later than when you're scheduled. You may submit a written request to reschedule your hearing for a later date by mail, fax, or e-mail (info@azbof.gov) . Your written request should explain why you want a later hearing date. If you have received a formal notice of hearing, you should assume that you must appear at your scheduled hearing, unless otherwise notified. Failure to attend your hearing may cause your good cause exception application to be denied.

The Board will not give you a hearing date earlier than when you're scheduled. The Board staff schedules hearings in order according to the amount of time it has spent processing the application. The Board will not force another applicant to wait for a hearing just so your hearing can take place sooner.

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I need an interpreter at my hearing. What should I do?

Individuals who need a sign-language interpreter should submit a written request to the Board of Fingerprinting as soon as possible. We will hire an interpreter for the hearing. However, it is important that you submit this request as far in advance of your hearing as possible, preferably as soon as you get your notice of hearing. Sometimes, sign-language interpreters have limited availability.

Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, the Board will not provide an interpreter for languages other than American Sign Language. If you are not comfortable speaking in English, you must make arrangements to bring your own interpreter.

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Will I find out at the hearing whether I'm approved for a fingerprint clearance card?

No. For almost all applications (the ones submitted on or after September 26, 2008), at some point after your hearing, the administrative law judge will file a written recommendation to the Board to grant or deny you a good cause exception. The Board will meet to decide whether to accept the recommendation; at this meeting, the Board will decide whether to grant or deny your application. About 20 days before the meeting, you will receive a written notice that lets you know when and where the Board will be meeting. This notice will explain that you may submit written objections and new evidence if you disagree with the hearing officer's recommendation; the notice will also provide a deadline for you to file your objections or evidence. You will be able to attend the Board's meeting, but you are not required to attend. If you do choose to attend, you will not be given an opportunity to speak. You will only be allowed to attend silently.

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Results

Who makes the final decision?

If we received your application before September 26, 2008, the administrative law judge will make the final decision. If we received your application on or after September 26, 2008, the administrative law judge will make a recommendation to the Board, and the Board will make a final decision.

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How long will it take for me to get a fingerprint clearance card after the Board approves my good cause exception application?

If the Board approves your application, it sends a letter to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which issues the cards and where you originally applied for a fingerprint clearance card. This letter will request that DPS issue a fingerprint clearance card. In general, once it receives the Board's letter, DPS will issue the card within a couple of weeks.

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If my good cause exception application is denied, what further steps can I take to get a fingerprint clearance card?

At any time, you may try again to get a good cause exception. However, you must apply again to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for a fingerprint clearance card. After DPS denies your application, you may request a good cause exception and begin the process again.

If you are denied a good cause exception, you will receive a letter that describes other legal options that may be available to you.

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Address, contact information, and name changes

Do I need to let anyone know of any changes in my contact information?

Yes. You should contact the Board of Fingerprinting by mail, fax, or e-mail (info@azbof.gov) as soon as possible when you have a change in contact information, particularly your mailing address. The Board will send information to the last known address. Some of this information may be time sensitive, such as a notice of hearing.

If you do not notify the Board of an address change, you may not get time-sensitive information. In turn, your application for a good cause exception may denied. For example, if you do not notify the Board of an address change, you may not get your notice of hearing. If you then fail to appear at your hearing, your good cause exception application may be denied.

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Whom do I need to notify of a name change?

You should notify both the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Board of Fingerprinting of a legal name change. You will need to provide a copy of the documentation that officially recorded the name change. For instance, if you get married, you will need to submit a copy of the marriage certificate. For information on how to submit documentation of your name change to DPS, you may contact DPS at (602) 223-2279.

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