What is a Level 2 Background Check? [All You Need to Know]

Reading time: 9 min read
Written by

Updated · Jul 26, 2023

Joined April 2023

With more than five years of experience in the background check industry, Ritesh Kumar founded Looku... | See full bio

Girlie Defensor
Edited by
Girlie Defensor


Girlie Defensor
Joined June 2023
Girlie Defensor

Girlie is an accomplished writer with an interest in technology and literature. With years of experi... | See full bio

Techjury is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Background checks are one of the most widely used methods of screening job candidates. 

In the world of Human Resources and recruitment, background checks come in two levels — 1 and 2 —increasing in intensity and depth. The length of time needed to conduct them also varies as well as what they consist of.  

Many people use people search sites or background check websites nowadays to find information such as a person's address or their social media accounts. However, these background check sites are different from what employers and landlords use. 

If you’ve applied for a position that requires you to submit to such a check, you may be wondering what exactly a level 2 background check is?

This article looks at the different components of such a personal analysis and how they affect you. 

Before we dive in, let’s briefly explore the first level.

What Is a Level 1 Background Check?

A Level 1 background check is the most basic and common type of investigation an employer can carry out on an applicant. It is name-based and a standard part of the hiring process. This check is used to confirm a potential employee’s identity on a state level. It covers aliases used by the applicant as well as social security numbers and date of birth.

Background Check sites are feasible alternatives in searching for a person, but it is important to note that companies are not legally allowed to use them to make decisions in employment or for renting out a property

What is a Level 2 Background Check?

A level 2 background check, on the other hand, is a very in-depth report that scrutinizes both state and national registries. Also known as a tier 2 background check, it is fingerprint-based and is used mainly for high responsibility jobs applicants. This includes those who have to work with children, the elderly, and other vulnerable people. 

For now, Florida is the only state that requires a Level 2 background check. 

There are different requirements for a state and national level 2 screening. While you only need a name request or fingerprint card for a state check, a national investigation requires much more. 

Some of the requirements are:

  • It must not be against public policy
  • The candidate’s fingerprints must be obtained
  • The fingerprints have to be submitted and processed via the state repository
  • The search results must be obtained by an approved government entity
  • The receiving entity must agree to the terms set by the FBI

What does the FBI have to do with all of this?

Well, a level 2 background check is sometimes called the FBI level 2 screening. This type of investigation is often used for candidates who are applying for federal government jobs. It also applies to agencies and companies that work with and for the federal government.

This check uncovers any interaction an applicant has had with law enforcement agencies. With this, the criminal data is added to the FBI database.

What does this process entail?

First, the candidate has to submit to fingerprinting by an accepted law enforcement agency. Next, an agent checks the prints against the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). This system is a digital database of fingerprints that different law enforcement agencies have compiled. 

The data available on the IACIS database covers both criminal and non-criminal matters. 

For a level 2 FBI background check, the agent in charge can run the fingerprint data through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). It is a database that compiles all the information on wanted criminals, terrorists, and sex offenders.

What Does a Level 2 Background Check Show? 

The key pieces of information that a level 2 background check reveals are:

  • Criminal records
  • Court records
  • Education and credentials verification
  • Past employment records

Criminal Records

Crime records shown during a level 2 criminal background check are vast and detailed. They can include:

  • All case records
  • Date the case was filed
  • Disposition of the case
  • Level of offense
  • Sentencing information

It also looks into specific crimes like manslaughter, kidnapping, patient abuse, child abuse, and any other offense related to hurting a vulnerable person.

Court Records

A level 2 screening also uncovers relevant court records that have been sealed. This includes juvenile convictions and detention. However, it cannot uncover expunged records.

Education and Credentials Verification

Most employers who run level 2 background checks also want to verify the education history and credentials of the applicant. This will show any academic institution they have attended. 

Past Employment Verification

A level 2 background check can also give information about a candidate’s past employment. Details included are the employment dates for each job and how long the applicants held the positions.

Are there limitations to what shows up on a level 2 screening? Absolutely.

A level 2 screening doesn’t show warrants because they are not yet a part of a person’s criminal record

It also might not show certain arrests. 

How come?

Well, typically, a level 2 check shows the information on arrests and charges in the past seven years. However, some security background check services might omit minor charges to ensure equal employment opportunity for the applicant. This is especially possible if the charges are not harmful enough to pose a threat to the job and the people they will be working with.

Now, how do these differ from what a level 1 background check shows?

The difference lies in the details. While a level 1 background screening is basic and less detailed, a level 2 is much more in-depth. 

Level 1 background checks are reserved for low-responsibility jobs and don’t need fingerprints. Its search results remain from the state it was made - no national check is involved. This means that if an applicant’s criminal record is from another state, it most likely won’t show up on a level 1 screening.

Wrap Up

So, what is a level 2 background check? 

It is a detailed, fingerprint-based screening that shows criminal records across state and federal levels.

A level 2 check entails running an applicant’s fingerprints through the FBI’s database. It exists to protect vulnerable people (children, elderly ones, and patients) from potentially harmful situations. Employers use level 2 screenings to check for arrests, charges, and convictions related to crimes against vulnerable persons. It also checks for cases of terrorism.

Also, how far back does a background check go?

Typically, there is no limit to how far back the check can go when searching for convictions on a national database. But, there are certain restrictions in place. For example, drug abuse offenses will only show up if they happened within the past five years. This is to protect the individual if they are in recovery and give them equal opportunities.


What disqualifies you from a level 2 background check?

Some of the factors that can disqualify you from a level 2 background check are:

  • Criminal history
  • Education and credential discrepancies
  • Damaged driving record
  • False employment history
  • Failed drug test

Denying a job to an applicant with a criminal history might be considered discriminatory. However, it may be acceptable if they have to work with vulnerable people. 

Similar to level 1 background check disqualifying offenses, if a candidate exaggerates their education history, it means they can’t be trusted. The same applies if the applicant is dishonest about their employment history. If such information is revealed, they most certainly will fail the level 2 background screening and can be denied the job.

For persons whose job requires driving, having a damaged driving record show up on the background check is a deal-breaker. The damage can be a speeding ticket or a DUI charge. 

This also applies if the results of a drug test indicate the applicant used an illegal substance. However, exceptions can be made depending on local laws. 

Can I do a level 2 background check on myself?

No. You cannot do a level 2 check on yourself nor can you do a level 2 background check online.

This is because the fingerprint to be used for the check has to be submitted and processed via the state repository. Individuals don’t have access to this. Also, the results of the screening can only be obtained by an approved government entity. This entity must also agree to the FBI’s terms. 

However, you can still do a level 1 background check on yourself.

This is an easy process and can give you access to court records, address history, standard criminal records, and other personal information. Individuals can easily run background checks on themselves via some free or paid background check services. These companies have access to extensive public records

What types of background checks are there?

There are different background checks an employer can run. The most common are:

  • Criminal background check
  • Education history verification
  • Past employment verification
  • Drug test or screening
  • Reference check
  • Credit history check
  • Sex offender registry check
  • Social media profile check
  • Driving history check
  • Social Security Number trace
  • Fingerprint background check
  • Professional license and certification verification

Some of these screenings are similar and contain overlapping results. For example, a criminal background check will reveal sex offender crimes.  But, a sex offender registry check is explicitly done to see if a candidate has any history of a sex-related crime.

There are also different levels of background checks. The most common are the Level 1 and Level 2 (or tier 1 and tier 2 background checks).  Level 3 and 4 checks also exist but are not as commonly used as the other background check levels. They are not defined under a specific law and are typically reserved for executive roles.

For example, during a Level 3 check, executive healthcare professionals can have their medical backgrounds and criminal history investigated by the Fraud and Control Information System (FACIS). 

Level 4 checks are usually reserved for high-level executive employees. This comprehensive investigation is similar to the others but includes a federal criminal search, national bankruptcy, and media search. 

What does level 1 mean on a background check?

Level 1 refers to the basic background check an employer runs on candidates as part of the hiring process. It is a name-based screening and covers only the area or state where they live. 

This screening is aimed at qualifying an applicant’s information. Hence, it includes an employment history verification. 

They’re less intrusive than level 2 background checks and, in most cases, employers use background check sites to run such a screening.


How long does a level 2 background check take?

It may take as much as 24 to 48 hours for the entire process and have the results available. This is due to delays that may occur while verifying some information like employment and education history.

Now, you may be wondering why it takes so long but consider what a level 2 background check is. A level 2 background check is a thorough, fingerprint-based check that accesses data across federal levels. It involves checking for a candidate’s criminal history and is used for high responsibility jobs.


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.