Frequently Asked Questions about the FBI NICS Voluntary Appeal File (VAF)/Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN) Service

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Who should get a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF) Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN)? Can anyone get one?

Typically, only someone who has previously appealed and won after an erroneous firearm transfer delay or denial would need a VAF/UPIN. However, if you believe you have an unclear criminal record or other possibly prohibitive record that you believe may cause you difficulties when making a firearm purchase, then a VAF/UPIN may also be appropriate for you.

I am being delayed or have been delayed the purchase of a firearm. Can I get a VAF/UPIN?

Yes. Getting a VAF/UPIN may prevent unnecessary delays in the future.

What are my chances of success?

We cannot say without researching your background and criminal history or lack thereof. We can do a preliminary evaluation for a small fee. If you wish to go forward, we will apply the fee to the total cost.

Do you have a money back guarantee?

We are unable to offer a money back guarantee and also offer such a low flat-rate price at the same time because the process involves a substantial amount of preparation and research.

Do you have payment plans?

We can create a payment plan that meets your needs. We typically spread payments into equal monthly amounts.

How long does it take to obtain a VAF/UPIN?

Typically, the process can take anywhere from 2 to 12 months. The time frame disparity depends on whether you have already successfully appealed the wrongful denial or delay of your firearm purchase. If you already have appealed and won an erroneous firearm denial, the process is much faster. If your VAF/UPIN application must accompany a NICS Firearm Appeal, the process will take much longer. How long an erroneous denial will take to overturn will vary based on the circumstances of each case. Much of the delay is due to the extremely high volume of appeal requests and VAF applications that NICS is currently processing. However, having a licensed attorney to quickly identity and resolve your problem can make the process go faster and not cause you unnecessary delays.

Can my VAF application be done faster?

NICS operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you start the sooner your application will be processed and granted. Having a licensed attorney who is familiar with the law and process will make the process go as quickly as possible.

Do I need an attorney or can I do this myself?

You will have an attorney to make sure (1) your VAF/UPIN application is done right the first time so are not denied or cost you months of delay, (2) that your record is being accurately reflected, and (3) explain/argue complex legal issues to the NICS Appeal Services Team. We can also explain what your options are after a failed appeal.

How do I know what is going on with my case?

We have an online tracking system that is just for your appeal or VAF/UPIN application. You will have a user name and password for the account and will have the information specific to the appeal/VAF application. Whenever anything happens in your case we post the information in your online account so that you can view the status of the appeal/application and the progress that is made. If there is no post on your online account then that means that there is no update on the appeal/application. For example, once we update your online account to reflect that we have filed documents with NICS, we will update the notes when we hear a response from NICS. Because of the extremely high volume of appeal requests and VAF applications that NICS is currently processing, responses from the NICS Appeal Services Team can take several weeks to a few months. Unfortunately, the FBI is no longer performing status checks on NICS VAF Applications. We will notify you are soon as we receive notification that your VAF Application has been processed. Moreover, we post your contract and payment plan information on the online account for you so that you can view all the information and print it.

Do I have to go to court or attend a hearing?

No. There are no hearings or court proceedings for this process. We will do all the necessary work and submit all the necessary documents for you.

Can I get the VAF/UPIN at the same time a NICS Firearm Appeal?

Yes. We can appeal your denial/delay first and then after the successful completion of your appeal, we can submit the necessary paperwork for your VAF. We also offer a discount on the VAF/UPIN service when you sign up with a NICS Firearm Appeal.

Am I required to submit my fingerprints for a VAF/UPIN?

Yes. Your VAF UPIN application will not be processed without a fingerprint card.

Can use the same fingerprint card I submitted for my NICS appeal for my VAF/UPIN application?

Probably not because NICS no longer returns fingerprint cards after the completion of an appeal. You will most likely need a new fingerprint card. If you are currently appealing a firearm denial, we recommend that you obtain at least two fingerprint cards in case you apply for a VAF/UPIN after the successful completion of your appeal.

Where should I go to get my fingerprint impressions rolled?

Law enforcement agencies such as sheriff’s offices, police departments, etc., or any other authorized fingerprinting agency can roll your fingerprints for you.

Do agencies charge a fingerprinting fee?

Usually. Individual agencies and businesses have the option to set their own rates for fingerprint processing.

What if my firearm background check goes through a state agency and not NICS?

You may still apply for and obtain a NICS VAF/UPIN and use it in your state. States that conduct their own firearm background checks still use NICS when making firearm eligibility determinations.

Once successfully granted a VAF/UPIN, how do I use my Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN)?

When filing out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Form 4473, you must place the VAF UPIN in box “9” and also advise the FFL you have a VAF UPIN.

If you are making a purchase in a state that does not use NICS as the “point of contact” and conducts their own background check, inform the firearm dealer of your VAF UPIN and they should be able to advise you were to provide your UPIN on the form(s).

Once I get my VAF/UPIN, does that mean I will never be delayed or denied a firearm purchase again?

No. Furthermore, a VAF/UPIN will not allow you to bypass the normal NICS or state firearm background check processes. You may still be denied or delayed if additional prohibitive or potentially prohibitive information in your background is discovered.

If my VAF/UPIN Application is successful, will this allow me to carry a concealed weapon or obtain a permit to do so?

No. The NICS Firearm Appeal process and VAF/UPIN is for the purchase or transfer of weapons only. The law in regards to carrying concealed weapons varies by state and a VAF/UPIN will not entitle you to carry a concealed weapon or obtain a concealed carry weapons permit. If you’re interested in obtaining a concealed carry weapons permit, we can be hired to help you determine your eligibility and clear any records that could cause your application to be denied.

I have already been granted a VAF/UPIN. What if I no longer want NICS to maintain my personal information?

If an individual wishes to be removed from the VAF, they can request in writing at any time for the information to be removed.

What if my VAF/UPIN Application is denied?

If your VAF/UPIN application is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and make a recommendation on how best to proceed. That can include a recommendation to file suit against the responsible State or government subdivision responsible for providing erroneous information or responsible for denying you a firearm transfer. If your denial appears to be appropriate under the law, we can help you explore any firearm rights restoration processes available to you.

Who is a “prohibited person” or category of person that is denied the purchase/transfer of a firearm?

Each state and the federal government have their own laws and restrictions regarding who may or may not possess a firearm. Therefore, the answer depends on where you live. However, these are the individuals restricted under federal law:

See 18 U.C.S. 921 & 922(g)

What if I don’t know exactly what is on my record?

A NICS Firearm Appeal or VAF/UPIN application will reveal what appears on your record and the reason for your denial/delay. We can also be hired to research your background for a small fee that can be applied to the total cost of any service you have us perform.

Do I have a conviction on my record if I pled no contest rather than guilty to a criminal offense?

Yes, a plea of no contest is still considered a conviction.

What if I now live in a different state than where my disqualifying criminal conviction occurred?

If your criminal conviction falls under a federal prohibition, you will not be able to legally purchase/possess a firearm or obtain a VAF/UPIN no matter which state you move to. Your new state will have its own laws regarding who may or may not possess a firearm. Since each state has different laws, we must evaluate the individual laws of your new state to determine whether you are eligible to possess a firearm. If you would like us to evaluate your case and determine if you can legally possess/purchase a firearm, then we can do so for a small fee. If you sign up for a service we offer the fee can be applied towards the total.

I already had my conviction sealed or expunged. Why am I still being denied a firearm purchase or VAF/UPIN?

Not all forms of record clearing relief restore your state or federal firearm rights. Other possibilities are that the record used by NICS that caused your firearm purchase or VAF/UPIN denial may be outdated, inaccurate, or has been interpreted incorrectly by NICS.

I have already appealed my firearm purchase denial or applied for a VAF/UPIN and have a prohibitive criminal conviction. What can I do?

We will be glad to work with you to examine your record and review what can be done to restore your rights. We charge a researching and analysis fee to do this and we can apply that to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.

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