Background checks for the military can’t be compared to the type of background check you get for most civilian jobs, and if you pass the Air Force background check and recruitment process, you’ll join the select 1% of the population who meet the exceptionally high standards set by the Air Force.
The Airforce background check is very comprehensive because they use your information to determine the level of security clearance you can be given, and your security clearance level determines which jobs you can do in the Air Force.
What Does The Air Force Background Check Look For?
Once you’ve gone through the basic eligibility questions with your recruiter, they’ll ask you to submit information for your Air Force Criminal background check.
The background check for Air Force requirements looks at your:
- Credit report
- Criminal history
- Driving record
- Employment record
- Education record
The investigator will also contact the individuals you list on your background form and ask questions about you.
What Information Do You Have To Provide For The Air Force Background Check?
The background check questionnaire asks for a lot of information. If you aren’t sure how to answer some questions, or you can’t provide the information asked for, check with your recruiter and get their advice. Don’t guess and don’t lie. It’s extremely important, to be honest with your answers.
Let’s go through the background check categories and look at the information you’ll need to provide.
Basic Personal Information
- Full name
- Any other names you’ve used, like your maiden name or any other legal name
- Any aliases you’ve used
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Citizenship and if you’re a dual national
- Home address
- Phone number
- Email address
You’ll need to give your recruiter verifying documents that confirm your identity, citizenship, and education.
Documents you can provide for verification include your:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- High school diploma
- College transcripts
- Social security number card
- Driver’s license
This next section asks about your family details. You’ll be asked to list the names of any dependents, which will include your spouse or partner, and any children you have.
You also have to list information about your parents, your siblings (including step-siblings and half-siblings), ex-spouses, and your in-laws (even if you’re divorced or separated).
For each person, you have to provide their:
- Full name
- Other legal names and aliases
- Relationship to you
- Status – living or deceased
- Current address
- Phone number
- Place of birth
- Date of Birth
This section asks for your previous address over the last 10 years.
Your address history needs to include every address you lived at during the last 10 years, which could include your parents’ home, your college dorm or apartment, and any addresses where you lived with a friend or partner but weren’t listed on the lease.
For each address, you need to include:
- The full address
- Whether you were the owner, a tenant, or guest
- The date you moved in and the date you moved out (estimated dates are allowed)
- The name, address, and contact details of a friend or neighbor who knew you when you lived at that address, and the date of your last contact with them
Your employment history should cover the last 10 years with no gaps. If you were unemployed during that time, you should list the dates concerned.
For each job you held include:
- Your place of employment
- Your job title
- The dates you were employed there
- The name, address, and contact details of your supervisor or manager
The employment history section is one part of the background check questionnaire you will need to ask your recruiter about if you can’t remember your supervisor’s details. Your recruiter may tell you it’s okay to omit that information, but you must ask them. Don’t leave it blank without their say-so.
This section asks where you went to high school and which colleges you attended during the last 10 years.
For each school list:
- The name and address of the school or college
- The dates you attended
For any schools or colleges, you attended in the last 3 years, you also need to provide the name and contact details of an instructor or student who knew you while you were there.
This section asks you to list 3 personal references covering the last 7 years.
Again, you’ll need to state how long you’ve known them and provide their:
- Full name
- Contact details
Overseas Travel & Foreign Contacts
The Air Force wants to know everywhere you’ve traveled outside the United States during the last 7 years.
For each country list:
- The country you visited
- The purpose of your visit – tourism, family visit, work
- The date of your visit (estimated is allowed)
If you have any foreign contacts, you’ll need to list their names, addresses, and contact details.
Criminal History And Drug & Alcohol Use
The background check looks into your entire criminal history and nothing is off limits. If you’ve got a sealed or expunged record, the government can access it. Don’t leave anything out of this section because your conviction or arrest will be discovered.
The background check questionnaire asks if you’ve ever been arrested, and the fingerprint-based record search will reveal your entire record.
If your background check reveals a criminal record, you’ll need a moral waiver for the offense.
It’s possible to apply for a moral waiver for some types of criminal offenses, but many offenses won’t be eligible. Ideally, you will have discussed your background with your recruiter before you get to this stage, so you’ll know if a waiver is likely to be granted by the commanding officer.
Obtaining a waiver for an arrest will be easier than getting one for a misdemeanor or a felony, and your recruiter is the best person to ask about your chances given your specific background.
You’ll also be asked about your drug and alcohol use. Again, you must be honest. Remember, your work in the Air Force will require a security clearance, and the people you’ve listed on your background questionnaire will be asked questions about you.
If you say you’ve never used drugs and your old employer says they know you smoked marijuana, that’s going to raise a red flag, especially if more than one person says the same thing.
The Air Force expects honesty from you. Smoking weed in the past won’t necessarily disqualify you, but dishonesty will.
The Air Force will pull your credit report to look at your financial situation. The military needs to know about your debts so they can be confident you’ll meet your financial and family obligations on the pay you’ll be receiving.
The Air Force has a 40% rule, which means that if you have monthly repayments on consumer debts (excluding student loans) that exceed 40% of your estimated military pay, you’ll need to satisfy the squadron commander that you can manage your repayments.
You may need to refinance your debt, show that your spouse’s income is sufficient, or pay off some debt before you’ll be eligible to join. Otherwise, you’ll need to apply for a financial waiver.
Having a lot of debt may make you a risky candidate because debt problems cause people to make poor decisions, and in the military, that could mean compromised security. And if you’re having to deal with debt problems, your mind won’t be fully on the job you’ve been hired to do.
As well as accessing your credit report, the Air Force asks you to provide details about:
- Credit cards and loans
- Taxes you owe
- Delinquent debt
If you’ve got some problems with your credit report, the Air Force will ask you to clean them up or ask you to apply for a financial waiver which may or may not be granted.
Financial waivers are always required if you’ve got a bankruptcy on your record, had a repossession in the last 5 years, had bills in collection, or have written bad checks.
How Far Back Does The Air Force Criminal Background Check Go?
Your credit report will cover the last 7 years of your financial history for credit, loan, and bill payments. If you’ve had a chapter 13 bankruptcy, that will show on your report for 7 years. A chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years.
Criminal background checks go all the way back through your history and include sealed and expunged records, so you can’t hide anything.
The background check questionnaire for Air Force is very detailed and asks you for a lot of information. This level of information is necessary so they can assign you a security clearance.
Make sure the information you supply is accurate, and if you have any difficulty remembering details, ask your recruiter how to proceed. Don’t just leave sections blank.
The Air Force will pull your credit report and carry out a fingerprint-based criminal record check.
If you’ve got problems with your credit or criminal history, discuss the issues with your recruiter to find out if a financial or moral waiver will be required, and if so, if you’re likely to receive approval for a waiver given your circumstances.
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