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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
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USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Before You Start

Before Starting

Please review "Onboarding Process for Selectees" prior to accepting the tentative offer or logging into your USAJOBS account. This document provides some navigational information that will be useful as you proceed through the USAS Onboarding Application.

To begin, login to your USAJobs account.


Initial login to the USA Staffing Onboarding system should occur via the unique login link included in your tentative offer letter.

If you do not have a USAJOBS account, you will need to:

  1. Create a account for access to USAJOBS.
  2. Once you’ve created a account and completed your USAJOBS account [profile], review the first email your HR point of contact sent you (tentative offer). Click on the Onboarding link.
  3. Login to USAS Onboarding through using your newly created USAJOBS account.

You will need to log into the system multiple times throughout the onboarding process so be sure to keep your login information handy!

NEW! Personnel Security Guidance for Federal Hires

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) now requires the completion of fingerprinting and the electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (eQIP) before establishing an Entry on Duty (EOD) date for Federal selectees. This guidance rescinds the previous direction issued by OPM in March 2020 waiving this requirement until the collection of fingerprints was feasible. This new guidance applies specifically to those selectees who are (1) onboard over 180 days and/or (2) require a Linc Pass.

It does not apply to intermittent, seasonal or temporary employees (including Interns):

  • whose affiliation is repeatedly terminated and reinstated
  • who are expected to work intermittently over multiple years
  • who will never receive a Linc Pass

HR will be implementing the OPM guidance in a phased approach starting with brand new employees/incoming transfers from other federal agencies and then working through those who onboarded under the COVID exemption. Onboarding timelines are contingent upon timely submission of the eQIP by the selectee and a positive suitability result from the review of the fingerprints. Every effort has been made to ensure the onboarding process flows smoothly and new personnel are brought onboard to support the agencies in a timely manner. These new processes are not expected to create any lengthy delays in the onboarding process.

After accepting their tentative offer, the selectee will receive guidance to:

  • Complete their initial pre-employment form(s)
  • Make their fingerprinting appointment at one of over 1,200 Fieldprint sites across and outside of the US
  • Complete their eQIP questionnaire
    NOTE - completion of the eQIP questionnaire by the selectee is the only requirement. The full background investigation will still occur after the selectee is onboard

Additional Resources

Forms To Complete

Forms are assigned based upon your appointment type (e.g. permanent, temporary, etc.). Read the instructions carefully to determine which forms, documents and tasks are submitted electronically and which you need to PRINT and bring with you when you report for your first day. You will not be able to move forward in the process until all assigned tasks are complete and all forms/documents are received.

Complete Electronically Within USAS Onboarding Before You Report For Your First Day

  • Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306)
  • Statement of Prior Federal Service (SF-144) (if applicable)
  • Self-Identification of Disability (SF-256)
  • Ethnicity and Race Identification Form (SF-181)
  • Direct Deposit (FMS 2231)
  • Verification of a Military Retiree’s Service in Non-Wartime Campaigns or Expeditions (SF-813) (if applicable)
  • Federal Employee Withholding Allowance (W-4)
  • State Tax Form(s) or Waivers (if applicable)

Upload into USAS Onboarding Before You Report For Your First Day

  • Information Security Awareness (ISA) and Rules of Behavior Certificate of Completion--All employees who are new to USDA must provide proof of course completion. Instructions and testing is available at the ISA Portal. If you have already completed this year’s requirement in AgLearn, simply upload your certificate into the USAS Onboarding portal
  • Official Transcripts (if requested)
  • Official transcripts will need to be sent directly from the school(s) in a sealed envelope addressed to the Human Resources representative who signed your tentative offer: USDA APHIS MRP-BS HRD Staffing, 250 Marquette Ave, Suite 410, Minneapolis, MN 55401. Electronic official transcripts will also be acceptable if emailed directly to your HR Representative through an authorized college transcript vendor such as eScrip-Safe
  • Pathways Agreement (if requested)
  • Resume

Send Via FedEx Or UPS To Human Resources Before You Report For Your First Day

All appointments in the Federal Service require some level of background investigation, screening, and/or security clearance. A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) is required for all USDA hires and must be determined to be favorable in order by the agency to secure Federal employment.

**NOTE** Due to the COVID19 pandemic, changes have been made in the pre-employment requirement. New Hires will be allowed to proceed with the onboarding process and provide the following items and/or clearances after the COVID19 pandemic subsides:

  • Official Transcripts
  • Satisfactory Drug Test
  • Fingerprints
  • Medical Exam

Please contact your new Supervisor to find out if there are other aspects of your onboarding that have been impacted by COVID19. Human Resources will notify you about what tasks you need to complete when it is safe to do so.

Identification Documents

You will be required to submit/present two (2) acceptable forms of identification several times during the onboarding process. In an effort to streamline these processes and avoid unnecessary delays, choose two (2) acceptable forms of identification and use these same two forms throughout the onboarding process. These Identification documents must have matching information on them.

  1. Must be submitted with the HRO 1197 Supplement Form (with attachment) & Fingerprint cards
  2. Ensure that your Supervisor has completed an HRO 1197 for you. Submit this form and copies of your identification documents electronically to your Personnel Security Assistant. If you have obtained a set of hard copy fingerprint on cards, those can be mailed to USDA APHIS HRD Personnel Security 250 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55401. If you do not have fingerprint cards, your prints will be taken electronically at a Credential Station. Even if you do not need a Linc Pass, you will need to provide a set of hard copy or electronic fingerprints.
  3. Must be submitted/presented to obtain a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Credential

    Credential stations may not be open to issue PIV Cards during the COVID19 pandemic. ITD will issue you an ID and Password to access your devices.
  4. Must be submitted/presented for Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) processing.

NOTE: In order to be deemed, "Acceptable", it is imperative that the identity source documents have matching information (for example, if you have had a name change recently, the documents must be updated) and they cannot be expired.

You will be notified via email once a determination has been made on your suitability for this position and the next steps in the employment process.

Day One Documents To Have Available On Your First Day of Work

  • Appointment Affidavit (SF-61)
    • Note: You must PRINT this form. Do not sign it. You will sign the SF-61 with an ink signature after the Oath of Office is administered on your first day of work.
  • Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9)
  • Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306)
    • Note: You will electronically sign this form in block 17A as the Applicant (1st signature) early in the onboarding process. Please ensure that any questions where your answer was “Yes” contain a full and complete description of events. Your HR point of contact will return this form to you for corrections (if needed) after an initial suitability review. On your first day you will sign a second time in block 17B as the Appointee (2nd signature). DO NOT TAKE ANY ACTION on this form within the USAS Onboarding application. You must PRINT this form. Do not sign it. This form along with the SF-61 and the I-9 will be signed with an ink signature on your first day of work. If there have been any changes to your initial answers on the OF-306, please be prepared with a full and complete description of those events.
  • Identification Documents
    • Your in-depth background investigation will be conducted after your Entry on Duty (EOD) date via the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigative Processing (e-QIP). The Human Resources Division Personnel Security Section will send you separate e-mails with instructions on completing these tasks. A comprehensive resume is required to begin this in-depth background investigation. You must ensure that there are complete addresses and dates for ALL work entries and ALL education entries.
    • Note: You will need to photocopy or take camera phone pictures of the identification documents you are using with your I9 form and submit that when requested with your SF-61, I-9 and OF-306.
  • Telework Agreement
    • Note: If during COVID19 you will be teleworking, your Supervisor will ask that you complete a telework agreement.


Benefits Selections Are a Personal Choice

Eligibility for employee benefits depends upon your type of appointment and your tour of duty. Refer to the Benefits Page found in the related links box for additional information. Pay close attention to the due dates identified for each of the forms.

  • Health Benefits Election Form (SF-2809)
  • Life Insurance Election (FEGLI) (SF-2817)
  • Thrift Savings Plan Enrollment (TSP-1)
  • TSP Catch-Up Contribution (TSP-1-C) (if applicable)
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Federal Long Term Care Insurance

Note: Beneficiary forms can only be accepted via hard copy and must be mailed to the appropriate office. Please follow the instructions found on each of the forms. Beneficiary forms are only necessary if you choose NOT TO follow the established Order of Precedence.

User Guides


Please return to this site after you have accepted your official offer letter. This site serves as a roadmap to help new hires adjust to the different aspects of their job, feel comfortable in their workplace and find answers to their questions.

Note to Orientation Facilitator or new employee's supervisor: Click here for instructions

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