Skip to main content

Personnel Vetting

Personal vetting involves assessing an individual's background, character, and other pertinent factors to ascertain their suitability for a specific role or responsibility. For all individuals employed by the United States Government, a thorough background investigation, evaluation, and adjudication process is mandatory. This process aims to gauge their reliability, trustworthiness, good conduct and character, and unswerving loyalty to the United States.

Personnel Vetting Determinations at ICE

ICE Security’s Personnel Security Division (PSD) is the entity in ICE responsible for promoting the integrity and efficiency of ICE by evaluating whether applicants, employees, and contractors meet suitability, fitness, security, and national security eligibility access requirements. We play a vital role as the frontline guardians, entrusted with safeguarding our workforce, agency, and national interests against potential harm posed by individuals who may not uphold our standards.

Federal Applicant Process

Once you have accepted a tentative job offer from ICE’s Office of Human Capital, the personnel vetting process will begin.

    Helpful Hint

    After you accept the tentative job offer with ICE, begin compiling information that may assist with filling out forms, such as collecting your residence history over the past 7 years.
  1. Step 1: Entry on Duty

    To enter on duty in your position with ICE, you will be required to have a favorable preliminary suitability/entry on duty determination by ICE PSD. This is accomplished in two different ways:

    1. If you have a recent favorably adjudicated federal background investigation that meets the requirements of the position at ICE (e.g. reciprocity), you may be approved to enter on duty.
    2. If a new background investigation is required, you will be contacted via the email you provided during the job application process to obtain your fingerprints and commence the initiation of the e-Application (Security Forms). The security forms will collect information regarding things like your citizenship, residence history, employment history, criminal history, financial background etc. It is imperative that your submissions are complete, honest, and forthcoming.

    Once these forms are received, ICE will obtain and review your criminal history report, credit report, and other forms submitted to make a risk-based preliminary suitability determination. This preliminary suitability determination may allow you to enter on duty while a full background investigation is being conducted.

    If ICE discovers any derogatory information, as defined under guidelines governing personnel vetting, correspondence will be sent to you by ICE PSD via email, affording you the opportunity to address the concerns. ICE will consider all available information prior to making our determination.

    Note: Law enforcement applicants for the Criminal Investigator (1811 job series) and Deportation Officer (1801 job series), may be subject to a pre-employment polygraph examination as disclosed on job announcements.

    Polygraph FAQs

  2. Helpful Hint

    Be honest with your investigator.

    The personnel interview is for you to further clarify or explain information that you listed on security forms.
  3. Step 2: Background Investigation

    All personnel employed by ICE are mandated to undergo a comprehensive background investigation. For federal employees, the background investigation is conducted to determine your suitability for government employment or fitness for appointment to an excepted service position. As applicable based on your position, the investigation will also be used to determine your eligibility to serve in a national security sensitive position and/or have eligibility for access to classified national security information.

    ICE conducts background investigations in compliance with federal regulations, aiming to gather information that assists with evaluating your character, conduct, trustworthiness, integrity, and loyalty to the United States.

    As an authorized Investigative Service Provider (ISP), ICE will schedule your background investigation through a contracted vendor. These vendors will coordinate a personal interview with you and may contact your previous employers, neighbors, current supervisor, and other relevant individuals. Typically, ICE’s field investigations take between 45 -60 days, although timelines may vary depending on individual circumstances.

  4. Helpful Hints

    Respond to all correspondence in a timely manner.

    If you are contacted regarding derogatory information, this is YOUR opportunity to provide us with additional information that we will use in our adjudicative determination.
  5. Step 3: Adjudication

    Once the background investigation is completed, the gathered information is evaluated by trained adjudicators who assess your background against predetermined standards set by federal regulations (e.g. Adjudicative Guidelines). As a federal employee, ICE will make a determination as to your suitability/fitness to work as a federal employee for ICE. If your position is a sensitive national security position or will require eligibility for access to classified national security information (i.e. a clearance), ICE will also adjudicate your background investigation under these standards.

    Similar to the entry on duty process, if ICE discovers derogatory information related to the personnel vetting standards, ICE will provide you an opportunity to respond via written correspondence. ICE employs the holistic "whole person" concept during the adjudication of all background investigations. This entails the consideration of every piece of information concerning your personal and professional background in making adjudicative determinations.

  6. Notification

    Employees are typically notified of the adjudicative decision through a Certificate of Investigation (COI) notice that is uploaded into your Electronic Personnel File (e-OPF). If the decision is adverse (e.g. unsuitable determination, denial of eligibility to occupy a sensitive national security position), you may have the right to appeal the decision through established procedures. If you have not entered on duty yet, as soon as you are granted access to your e-OPF by Office of Human Capital, you will be able to access your COI.

Continuous Vetting

Once employed by ICE, you will be enrolled in a process known as Continuous Vetting. Continuous Vetting involves regularly assessing your background which may include conducting additional or updated checks using commercial databases, government databases and other information lawfully available to security officials at any time to determine if you continue to meet the personnel vetting requirements as governed by federal regulations.

Record Request

To request a copy of your personnel security record (e.g. your background investigation), you may submit a request through ICE’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office.

Verify Background Investigator

If you are contacted by an investigator working on any ICE background investigation, you may validate the identity by emailing the investigator’s name and credential number (CBI#####) to