Board of Nursing
Criminal Background Check (CBC) Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why has the Virginia Board of Nursing (VBON) implemented a criminal background check for licensure? The Virginia Board of Nursing (VBON) has implemented criminal background checks (CBCs) under Virginia Code Section 54.1-3005.1 to protect the public, especially the vulnerable populations that nurses serve. While applicants are required to self-disclose criminal conviction histories, the VBON has found that these self-reports are not always reliable. Additionally, Virginia is one of twenty-five (25) current participants in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) which allows nurses to practice in all 25 states on a multi-state privilege authorized by their home state or base license. The NLC’s goal is to remain consistent among all member states with the implementation of CBCs for licensure.
2. Why isn’t it good enough for applicants to self-disclose a history of criminal activity? Currently, the VBON requires applicants to self-disclose criminal conviction histories and makes licensure decisions based on those self-reports and court records that are subsequently obtained. The VBON processes approximately 10,000 nursing licensure applications a year and about 5.5% of these applications are “non-routine” based on criminal history disclosed. However, the VBON has found that those self-reports are not always complete and reliable. Data from other states indicates that 15-19% of applicants failed to disclose a criminal history record. The new CBC process is the mechanism to ensure that the VBON is fully aware of an applicant’s criminal history before determining eligibility for a license in order to adequately protect the public.
3. Who is required by the VBON to receive a criminal background check? All Registered Nurse (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) applicants seeking initial licensure by examination, endorsement or reinstatement are required to obtain a CBC.
4. Will I be required to obtain a criminal background check when I renew my license? No, CBC requirements do not apply to licensure renewal applicants.
5. Do the new criminal background requirements apply to CNAs, Medication Aides or Massage Therapists? As of January 1, 2016, the CBC requirement does not apply to Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Registered Medication Aides (RMAs) or Certified Massage Therapists (CMTs).
6. When am I required to obtain a criminal background check? When an application is received after January 1, 2016 by the VBON for initial RN or LPN licensure by examination, endorsement and reinstatement.
7. If I am applying for license endorsement or reinstatement, how far in advance from when I plan to begin working should I get fingerprinted in order to expedite my approval of licensure? You may request a CBC once your application and fee are received by VBON (See FAQs related to fingerprinting process).
8. I currently have a nursing license in the state of Virginia, do I need to obtain a criminal background check or will I be grandfathered in? No, the CBC requirements do not apply to currently licensed RNs or LPNs in Virginia.
9. If I recently moved to Virginia from a compact state, do I need to have another criminal background check? Yes, CBCs are required if a RN/LPN licensure application is submitted to the VBON, including by endorsement from another state. Boards of Nursing may not share CBC information with each other.
10. I currently have a multi-state license privilege and will soon be practicing in Virginia but will not be declaring Virginia as my Primary State of Residence; do I need to have a criminal background check? If you are not required to submit an application for licensure as an RN or LPN, then the CBC requirement does not apply to you.
11. I am a new graduate; can I take the NCLEX® while my application is being processed and reviewed? If you submitted an application for licensure by examination and you meet the minimum applicable VBON regulation requirements, you may be eligible to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT/Eligibility) letter, which allows you to practice up to 90 days from the date of graduation and to take the NCLEX exam. The ATT/Eligibility letter will only be issued if you did not self-disclose any criminal history information on your license application.12. I am a new graduate and I want to go to work as soon as possible, can I have a temporary permit while my criminal record background check is pending and application is under review? If you submitted an application for licensure by examination and you meet the minimum applicable VBON regulation requirements, you may be eligible to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT/Eligibility) letter, which allows you to practice up to 90 days from the date of graduation and to take the NCLEX exam. The ATT letter will only be issued if you did not self-disclose any criminal history information on your license application.
13. Why is it necessary to obtain my fingerprints rather than running a search on my name? Fingerprint-based background checks are processed through both FBI and state criminal databases presenting a complete criminal profile of the applicant. Conversely, non-fingerprint background checks or “name checks” are not nearly as comprehensive and run the applicants background against a limited amount of predetermined records which are commercially available. Therefore, a name search only would not give the VBON complete information.
14. Who is responsible for paying for the criminal background check and how much does it cost? The applicant is responsible for paying for the criminal background check fee directly to Fieldprint. The cost is $33.95 for Inside Virginia applicants and $36.95 for Outside Virginia applicants.
15. I was recently fingerprinted by another agency do I still need to be fingerprinted for the VBON? Yes, you will need to be fingerprinted for the VBON licensure process. Any fingerprints that you had collected in the past are not retrievable or transferable from other state or federal agencies
16. Who will be obtaining the fingerprints for my criminal background check? Your fingerprints will be collected at a Fieldprint site location. The prints will be sent to Virginia State Police.
17. Where can I get my fingerprints electronically processed? You will get your fingerprints electronically processed by Fieldprint at a Fieldprint site location. Go to Fieldprint Virginia and click on “Our Locations” to find a location closest to you.
18. Is there a different fingerprinting process for out of state applicants? If you are out of state, the process is similar to the one for applicants in Virginia except the cost.
19. What about applicants from out of the country? If you are out of the country, you will not be able to have your fingerprints collected until you are physically present in the United States.
20. Am I able to cancel or change my scheduled fingerprinting appointment if needed? Yes, you will need to contact the Fieldprint appointment location you selected 24 hours prior to your appointment time to cancel or reschedule.
21. What do I need to bring with me to the electronic fingerprinting site? Two (2) forms of identification, at least one (1) of which must be a valid government-issued photo ID and your appointment number (found on your appointment confirmation receipt received through Fieldprint Virginia).
22. How does the electronic fingerprinting process actually work? Livescan (electronic) fingerprints are captured electronically, via a digital image that can be transmitted electronically; this provides for a faster and more accurate fingerprint collection process.
23. How long will it take for my fingerprints to be processed? Results of fingerprint-based checks are typically processed within 2-4 business days. Note: Results are ultimately dependent upon processing times of the Virginia State Police (VSP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which are subject to change.
24. I am nearing graduation from my nursing program. How far in advance from my graduation date can I get fingerprinted in order to expedite my approval of examination? You may request a CBC once your licensure application and fee are received by VBON.
25. Who has access to my fingerprints and criminal record? The applicant’s fingerprints are submitted directly to Fieldprint (contractor with VBON) and are electronically scanned through a secure site to the Virginia State Police (VSP) Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). No other entities have access to the applicant’s fingerprints. The criminal history record of arrests and prosecution (“RAP”sheet) will only be accessible by VBON CBC staff.
27. Will my fingerprints be kept on record and for how long? Fieldprint will maintain, archive and store all live-scan fingerprint transmissions to VSP for a time period specified by the VBON. The main purpose of maintaining an archived database is to eliminate redundant fingerprinting of applicant, in rare cases of lost prints or to satisfy any statutory record keeping / retention requirements.
28. What should I do if I am notified that my electronic fingerprints were lost or illegible? Applicants should contact Fieldprint by accessing your account through Fieldprint Virginia directly to reschedule an appointment free of charge.
29, Whose responsibility is it to make sure that the criminal background results are securely delivered to the VBON? The Virginia State Police (VSP) Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) will submit results electronically via secure transmission or by confidential mail directly to the VBON CBC Unit.
30. If I have a criminal history, what documents am I required to provide? The burden is on the applicant to provide any documentation that would prove or disprove a criminal conviction, or if appropriate, provide any mitigating or aggravating evidence regarding a criminal conviction and proof of completed court ordered requirements.
31. If have a criminal history that includes an offense that was taken under advisement or deferred for a period of by a court, should I disclose this as a conviction? If the offense did not result in a conviction or was dismissed then this information does not need to be disclosed on your licensure application.
32. Are there any convictions that are considered a permanent bar to licensure? Each applicant is considered on a case-by-case basis. Virginia law related to nursing licensure does not include any permanent bars to licensure.
33. What criminal offenses on my criminal record may interfere with my ability to get licensed? The VBON has published guidelines regarding the impact of criminal conviction history on licensure applications in accordance with state law, Virginia Code Section 54.1-3007 and nursing regulations. The VBON may refuse to admit a candidate to any examination, or refuse to issue a license or certificate to any applicant with certain criminal convictions. Criminal convictions for any felony or misdemeanors involving “moral turpitude” may prevent licensure or certification. Please see also VBON Guidance Document 90-10 and VBON Joint Guidance Document 90-55 for more detailed information.
34. Who is responsible for interpreting the results of the criminal background check? The Board has delegated authority to the VBON CBC Unit staff receives and interprets the CBC results.
35. Can I get a copy of my criminal background check results? After the VBON receives the results, they may not be disseminated further, even to the applicant in accordance with state/federal laws.
36. What if I disagree with the results on my criminal background check, can I challenge them? You will have an opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the results, in accordance with the Applicant’s Rights (See: Applicants Challenge Instructions (FBI) & Applicant Challenge Instructions (VSP).
37. Can the same criminal background check be used to satisfy the requirements for both the VBON and an employer? No, the VBON has no authority under the law to disseminate an applicant’s CBC results to another entity.
38. What does it mean that my application is ‘non routine’ and will this slow down or impair my licensure process? A “non-routine” application means that an applicant has disclosed or the CBC revealed information on their licensure application that may be grounds for a denial under Virginia Code Section 54.1-3007.pdf, to include criminal conviction history, possible impairment of disciplinary action taken in other states. This will add time to the licensure application approval process.
39. Does the VBON have the right to deny my application for licensure or otherwise discipline my license and/or privilege to practice based on my criminal history record results? See FAQ answer #33 and VBON Guidance Document 90-12.
40. I have received a letter from the VBON that states my application cannot be approved based upon the criminal background check, but I do not have any convictions that are cause for licensure denial. Why would this occur? See also FAQ #36. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis. An applicant can appeal his or her case, requesting reconsideration of the VBON’s decision and request an Informal Conference (IFC) to meet with representatives of the VBON to consider your application. This information would be included in communication received by the VBON.
41. If I am not approved for licensure based on my criminal background check results what are my options? See FAQ answer #40.42. If I do not pass the NCLEX and have to reapply for licensure, will I have to resubmit fingerprints for another criminal background check? How long are the criminal record check results considered valid? If you re-apply for licensure by examination and it is has been over one year (1 yr.) from the date you previously completed the fingerprinting process for the VBON, you are required to have another fingerprint-based criminal background check.