[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 107 (Tuesday, June 5, 2007)]
[Pages 31082-31085]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 07-2782]



Office of the Secretary

[Docket No. DHS-2007-0039]

Privacy Act; Background Check Services System of Records

AGENCY: Privacy Office, Office of the Secretary, Department of Homeland 

ACTION: Notice of Updated Privacy Act system of records notice.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to Updated Privacy Act of 1974, the Department of 
Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is 
updating the Background Check Service system of records to include a 
new category of

[[Page 31083]]

individuals, which is other individuals over the age of 18 residing in 
a prospective adoptive parent's household pursuant to 8 CFR 204.3 
(herein referred to as ``other individuals''). Additionally, DHS is 
adding a new routine use consistent with Office of Management and 
Budget Memorandum M-07-16, Attachment 2 that permits DHS to be in the 
best position to respond in a timely and effective manner in the event 
of a data breach. This republished system of records notice will 
replace the previously published system of records notice for the 
Background Check System, Federal Register on December 4, 2006 (71 FR 

DATES: The established system of records will be effective July 5, 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket Number DHS-
2007-0039 by one of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 1-866-466-5370.
     Mail: Hugo Teufel III, Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy 
Office, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For system related questions please 
contact: Greg Collett, Branch Chief of Application Support for Office 
of Field Operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 
Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC 20520. For privacy issues please contract: Hugo Teufel 
III, Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, U.S. Department of Homeland 
Security, Washington, DC 20528.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is congressionally 
tasked with processing all immigration benefit applications and 
petitions. In order to assist in this tasks, USCIS established a system 
of records that consolidates all background check requests and results 
on immigration benefit applicants/petitioners. This system of records 
is called the Background Check Service (BCS). At this time, USCIS is 
updating this system of records notice to add the following category of 
individuals to the Background Check System: Other individuals over the 
age of 18 residing in a prospective adoptive parent's household 
pursuant to 8 CFR 204.3 (herein referred to as ``other individuals''). 
Additionally, USCIS is adding a new routine use consistent with Office 
of Management and Budget Memorandum M-07-16, Attachment 2 that permits 
DHS to be in the best position to respond in a timely and effective 
manner in the event of a data breach.
    USCIS conducts four different background checks on applicants/
petitioners applying for USCIS benefits: (1) A Federal Bureau of 
Investigation (FBI) fingerprint check, (2) a FBI name check, (3) a 
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Treasury Enforcement Communication 
System/Interagency Border Inspection System (TECS/IBIS) name check, and 
(4) US-VISIT IDENT fingerprint check. BCS will maintain the requests 
and results of all background check activity for USCIC.
    As a centralized repository containing all background check 
activity, BCS provides the status and results of background checks 
required for completion of immigration eligibility petitions and 
application determinations from one web-based system to geographically 
dispersed field offices. This system supports USCIS's initiatives to 
reduce immigration benefit/petition case backlog and provide 
significant efficiencies in vetting and resolving the background checks 
that are required for USCIS benefits. Prior to BCS, information 
relating to the US-VISIT IDENT fingerprint checks, FBI fingerprint 
checks and the FBI name checks were stored in the FD-258 system and FBI 
Query system respectively. Information relating to the TECS/IBIS name 
checks was not stored in any system.
    The information maintained in BCS is initially collected and 
maintained in one of the following USCIS case management systems and 
then it is transferred to BCS:
     Computer-Linked Application Information Management System 
(CLAIMS) 3, which is used to process applications including, but not 
limited to, an Adjustment of Status (Green Card) and Temporary 
Protective Status (TPS);
     CLAIMS 4, which is used to process applications for 
     Refugee Asylum Parole System (RAPS), which is used to 
process Asylum applications; and
     Marriage Fraud Assurance System (MFAS), which is used for 
processing information relating to investigations of marriage fraud.
    The benefit applicant/petitioner and other individuals do not have 
direct interaction with BCS.
    The above systems will send necessary and relevant information to 
BCS in order to generate a Name Check Request for both the FBI name 
check and TECS/IBIS name check. Both the requests and results will be 
stored in BCS.
    Applicants and other individuals submit information at the time the 
fingerprints are taken in order to conduct the FBI fingerprint check 
and the US-VISIT IDENT fingerprint check. Fingerprints are taken 
electronically at USCIS Application Support Centers (ASC) or taken from 
hard copy fingerprint cards (FD-258) that are submitted for those 
applicants and other individuals who are unable to go to an ASC. The 
fingerprints are currently stored in the Benefit Biometric Support 
System (BBSS), which interfaces directly with FBI's Integrated 
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The FBI provides 
responses to the FBI fingerprint check electronically and responses are 
stored in BCS. US-VISIT IDENT fingerprint check provides responses to 
    All information is currently collected as part of the established 
USCIS application/petition process and is required to verify the 
applicant/petitioner's eligibility for the benefit being sought. The 
FBI fingerprint check consists of a search of the FBI's Criminal Master 
File via IAFIS. This search will identify applicants/petitioners and 
other individuals who have an arrest record. The FBI Name Check 
consists of a search of the FBI's Universal Index that includes 
administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel, and other files 
compiled for law enforcement purposes. The TECS/IBIS Name Check 
consists of a search of a multi-agency database containing information 
from 26 different agencies. The information in TECS/IBIS includes 
records of known and suspected terrorists, sex offenders, and other 
individuals that may be of interest to the law enforcement community. 
USCIS will use TECS/IBIS to access National Crime Information Center 
(NCIC) records on wanted persons, criminal histories, and previous 
federal inspections. The information in US-VISIT IDENT links 
information on individuals with their encounters, biometrics, records, 
and other data elements.
    The information collected in BCS as part of the background check 
process provides USCIS with information about an applicant/petitioner 
and other individuals that have national security or public safety 
implications or indicia of fraud. Collecting this information and 
taking action to prevent potentially undesirable and often dangerous 
people from staying in this country clearly supports two primary 
missions of DHS: Preventing terrorist attacks within the United States 
and reducing America's vulnerability to terrorism, while facilitating 
the adjudication of lawful benefit applications.

[[Page 31084]]

    USCIS will use the results of these background checks to make 
eligibility determinations, which will result in the approval or denial 
of a benefit. If fraudulent or criminal activity is detected as a 
result of the background check, USCIS will forward the information to 
appropriate law enforcement agencies including Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement (ICE), FBI, CBP, and/or local law enforcement.
    The Privacy Act embodies fair information principles in a statutory 
framework governing the means by which the United States Government 
collects, maintains, uses and disseminates personally identifiable 
information. The Privacy Act applies to information that is maintained 
in a ``system of records.'' A ``system of records'' is a group of any 
records under the control of an agency from which information is 
retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifying number, 
symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual.
    The Privacy Act requires each agency to publish in the Federal 
Register a description denoting the type and character of each system 
of records that the agency maintains, and the routine uses that are 
contained in each system to make agency recordkeeping practices 
transparent, to notify individuals of the uses to which personally 
identifiable information is put, and to assist the individual in more 
easily finding such files within the agency.
    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552a(r), a report on this system has 
been sent to Congress and to the Office of Management and Budget.

System name:
    Background Check Service (BCS). Security Classification: Sensitive 
but Unclassified.

System location:
    The primary BCS system is located at a Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS) approved data center in the Washington, DC, metropolitan 
area. Backups are maintained offsite. BCS will be accessible world-wide 
from all USCIS field offices, service centers, and ASC that are part of 
the DHS Network.

Categories of individuals covered by the system:
    Categories of individuals covered by this notice consist of:
    A. All individuals who are applying for benefits and or who are 
petitioning on behalf of individuals applying/petitioning for benefits 
pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, 
101 [8 U.S.C. 1101] (a)(b).
    B. All individuals over the age of 18 residing in a prospective 
adoptive parent's household whose principal or only residence is the 
home of the prospective adoptive parents pursuant to 8 CFR 204.3 
(herein referred to as ``other individuals'').

Categories of records in the system:
    BCS maintains four general categories of records: Applicant/
petitioner identification information, other individual identification 
information, Background Check Request information, and Background Check 
Result information.
    A. Applicant/Petitioner information includes biographic information 
associated with each applicant/petitioner including, but not limited 
to: Name, date of birth, country of birth, address, and employment 
status. The applicant/petitioner information also includes uniquely 
identifiable numbers, including but not limited to: Alien number, z-
number, receipt number, social security number, armed forces 
identification number, etc. This information would be derived from 
newly created benefit applications in USCIS Systems of Records or an 
update to previously submitted benefit applications.
    B. Information related to other individuals over the age of 18 
residing in a prospective adoptive parent's household would be derived 
from newly created inter-country adoption applications pursuant to 8 
CFR 204.3. The information collected about these individuals includes: 
Full name and date of birth.
    C. Background Check Request information contains data necessary to 
perform a background check through the US-VISIT IDENT fingerprint 
check, FBI fingerprint check, FI name check, and CBP IBIS name check 
services. This data may include: Transaction control numbers associated 
with FBI fingerprint checks, receipt numbers, date/time of submission, 
physical description of subject, and a reason for the submission of the 
application (i.e. USCIS form code). This category also covers logs 
associated with the requests of background checks, which may include: 
Requesting location and requesting person.
    D. Background Check Result information encompasses data received 
from FBI and DHS. This data may include: Identifying transactional 
information (i.e. transaction control number), biographical 
information, a subject's FBI information sheet (informally known as a 
RAP Sheet) as a result of an FBI fingerprint check, an FBI name check 
report, information from the CBP IBIS database, and information from 
US-VISIT IDENT fingerprint check. The CBP IBIS database includes data 
from TECS and NCIC databases.

Authority for maintenance of the system:
    8 U.S.C. 1103(a).

    BCS is a single, centralized system that records, reconciles, and 
stores Background Check Requests and Results of applicants and 
petitioners seeking USCIS benefits. The following types of background 
checks will be recorded by BCS: FBI Name Checks, TECS/IBIS Name Checks, 
and FBI Fingerprint Checks. The collection of information is required 
to verify the applicant/petitioner's eligibility for USCIS benefits. A 
background check of varying degree, determined by the benefit/petition, 
is required for any individual applying for USCIS benefits. In order to 
seek USCIS benefits, the applicant/petitioner must provide USCIS with 
all requested information.
    In the case of other individuals over the age of 18 residing in a 
prospective adoptive parent's household, USCIS collects their 
information to facilitate the appropriate USVISIT IDENT, FBI Name 
Checks, TECS/IBIS Name Checks, and FBI Fingerprint Checks. This check 
is conducted in order to assess whether the child will be placed in a 
safe environment.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories 
of users and the purposes of such uses:
    In addition to those disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 
552a(b) of the Privacy Act, all or a portion of the records or 
information contained in this system may be disclosed outside DHS as a 
routine use pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) as follows:
    A. To the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) (including 
United States Attorney offices) or other Federal agency conducting 
litigation or in proceedings before any court, adjudicative or 
administrative body, when it is necessary to the litigation and one of 
the following is a party to the litigation or has an interest in such 
litigation: (a) DHS, or (b) any employee of DHS in his/her official 
capacity, or (c) any employee of DHS in his/her individual capacity 
where DOJ or DHS has agreed to represent said employee, or (d) the 
United States or any agency thereof;
    B. To another Federal agency (including the Merit Systems 

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Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), or to a court, 
or a party in litigation before a court or in an administrative 
proceeding being conducted by a Federal agency, when the Government is 
a party to the judicial or administrative proceeding.
    C. To an agency, organization, or individual for the purpose of 
performing audit or oversight operations as authorized by law.
    D. To a Congressional office, for the record of an individual in 
response to an inquiry from that Congressional office made at the 
request of the individual to whom the record pertains.
    E. To the National Archives and Records Administration or other 
Federal government agencies pursuant to records management inspections 
being conducted under the authority of 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906.
     F. To contractors, grantees, experts, consultants, and others 
performing or working on a contract, service, grant, cooperative 
agreement, or other assignment for the Federal Government, when 
necessary to accomplish a DHS mission function related to this system 
of records, in compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended.
     G. To appropriate Federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign 
governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations 
responsible for investigating or prosecuting the violations of, or for 
enforcing or implementing, a statute, rule, regulation, order, or 
license, where USCIS believes the information would assist enforcement 
of civil or criminal laws;
     H. To Federal and foreign government intelligence or 
counterterrorism agencies or components where USCIS becomes aware of an 
indication of a threat or potential threat to national or international 
security, or where such use is to assist in anti-terrorism efforts and 
disclosure is appropriate to the proper performance of the official 
duties of the person making the disclosure;
     I. To a Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, foreign, or 
international agency, if necessary to obtain information relevant to a 
Department of Homeland Security decision concerning the hiring or 
retention of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the 
reporting of an investigation of an employee, the letting of a 
contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit.
     J. To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (1) it is 
suspected or confirmed that the security or confidentiality of 
information in the system of records has been compromised; (2) DHS has 
determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise 
there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, identity 
theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this system or 
other systems or programs (whether maintained by DHS or another agency 
or entity) that rely upon the compromised information; and (3) the 
disclosure is made to such agencies, entities, and persons when 
reasonably necessary to assist in connection with DHS's efforts to 
respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, 
or remedy such harm.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, 
and disposing of records in the system:
    Records in the system will be stored in a central computer 

    A combination of the following BCS data elements may be used to 
initiate a query in order to retrieve data from the BCS User Interface. 
These data elements include, an individual's alien file number, name 
and date of birth; and receipt number.

    Information in this system is safeguarded in accordance with 
applicable laws and policies, including the DHS Information Technology 
Security Program Handbook. All records are protected from unauthorized 
access through appropriate administrative, physical, and technical 
safeguards. These safeguards include restricting access to authorized 
personnel who have a need-to-know, using locks, and password protection 
identification features. The system is also protected through a multi-
layer security approach. The protective strategies are physical, 
technical, administrative and environmental in nature and provide 
access control to sensitive data, physical access control to DHS 
facilities, confidentiality of communications, authentication of 
sending parties, and personnel screening to ensure that all personnel 
with access to data are screened through background investigations 
commensurate with the level of access required to perform their duties.

Retention and disposal:
    The following USCIS proposal for retention and disposal is pending 
approval by the National Archives and Records Administration. Records 
are stored and retained in the BCS Repository for 75 years, during 
which time the records will be archived. The 75-year retention rate is 
based on the length of time USCIS may interact with a customer. For 
example, background checks are conducted on individuals/petitioners 
from the age of 14 and up. Retaining the data for this period of time 
also will enable USCIS to fight identify fraud and misappropriated 

System manager(s) and address:
    Greg Collett, Branch Chief of Application Support for Office of 
Field Operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department 
of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 

Notification procedure:
    All individuals applying for immigration benefits are presented on 
the USCIS form, a Privacy Act Statements and a Signature and 
Authorization for Release of personally identifiable information. All 
forms must be signed by the individual. These two notices supply 
individuals with information regarding uses of the data.

Record access procedures:
    To determine whether this system contains records relating to you, 
write the USCIS Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act officer. Mail 
request to: Elizabeth S. Gaffin, Privacy Officer, Department of 
Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 20 
Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Room 4210, Washington, DC 20529.

Contesting record procedures:
    See the ``Notification Procedure'' above.

Record source categories:
    Information contained in this system of records is obtained from 
USCIS systems including: CLAIMS3, CLAIMS4, RAPS, and MFAS. Information 
contained in the system is also obtained from the FBI and DHS. All 
information contained in BCS is derived from the above systems.

Exemptions claimed for the system:

    Dated: May 25, 2007.
Hugo Teufel, III,
Chief Privacy Officer.
[FR Doc. 07-2782 Filed 5-31-07; 1:24 pm]