Refer to VISTA Member Handbook: Chapter 2: Overview of Your Year in AmeriCorps VISTA


As an AmeriCorps VISTA candidate, you are expected to attend to important legal administrative tasks related to your enrollment, and to make vital decisions to maximize your benefits. Once you become a candidate, one of your first responsibilities is to cooperate fully with AmeriCorps VISTA in an investigation of your background.

AmeriCorps VISTA and its sponsoring organizations strive to maintain a safe and productive environment, assigning members who do not present a risk to their service partners, particularly vulnerable members of our communities. In addition to comprehensive interviews and personal reference checks, criminal history checks assist sponsors and AmeriCorps VISTA in determining the suitability of applicants.
AmeriCorps VISTA requires a comprehensive criminal history check be performed for members who have recurring access to vulnerable populations: children under 18 years of age, persons physically or mentally disabled, and adults over the age of 60. To conduct a nationwide criminal history check, AmeriCorps VISTA requires fingerprint submissions from prospective AmeriCorps VISTA members (applicants) who will be assigned to serve vulnerable populations to determine whether an individual has a record of any criminal convictions, and, if so, the nature and circumstances of the conviction(s). Each criminal history check also includes a review of the National Sex Offender's Registry administered by the Department of Justice.

All AmeriCorps VISTA applicants, regardless of the population they are assigned to serve, undergo review on the National Sex Offender's Registry. The review occurs at the state office when the application is received from the sponsoring organization or AmeriCorps VISTA applicant. Any records found on this registry for an applicant or member will result in deselection or termination.

Applicants who will have recurring access to vulnerable populations will undergo a criminal history check when they have been recommended by a project sponsor to the Corporation State Office. If the criminal history check is not completed prior to the Pre-Service Orientation, the AmeriCorps VISTA candidate may be sworn into service but may have no contact with a vulnerable population without supervision until the history check is completed and the individual has been cleared.

Reenrollees who have undergone a criminal history check and have no lapse in service need not undergo a second check.

Potential and current AmeriCorps VISTA members are expected to cooperate fully with criminal history checks. Cooperation includes, but is not limited to, providing fingerprints when required, providing written consent to conduct a criminal history check, and responding with truthful and complete information to inquiries made during the history check process. Failure to cooperate in these respects, or any attempt to interfere with implementation of this policy, will result in denial of your application or early termination from AmeriCorps VISTA service.

Alcohol abuse and illegal drug use adversely affect health and performance on projects, create potentially dangerous situations, and serve to undermine the community's confidence in AmeriCorps VISTA. Therefore, AmeriCorps VISTA prohibits illegal drug use and alcohol abuse by its Leaders and members. Some sponsoring organizations may require AmeriCorps VISTA Leaders and members to pass a drug screening test before or upon arrival, or during service at the project site. Failure to submit to drug screening, or a positive test result for illegal drugs, may lead to deselection of the AmeriCorps VISTA candidate or early termination of the member.