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The Security Screening Program

CSIS has two major operational programs mandated by the CSIS Act: the collection of threat-related intelligence and security screening for threats to national security.

One of the Service’s most visible functions, the CSIS Security Screening program helps the Government of Canada prevent non-Canadians who pose a threat to national security from entering Canada and acquiring status in this country, as well as preventing persons of national security concern from gaining access to classified or sensitive government information, assets, sites or major events.
In doing so, the CSIS Security Screening program serves as a primary means of keeping Canada and Canadians safe from threats to national security, including terrorism and extremism, espionage, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The CSIS Security Screening program has two key sub-programs: Government Security Screening (GSS) and Immigration and Citizenship Screening (ICS).

Government Security Screening

Authorized by the Financial Administration Act (FAA), guided by the Government of Canada Policy on Government Security (PGS), the Standard on Security Screening (SSS), and mandated by sections 13 and 15 of the CSIS Act, Government Security Screening(GSS) investigates and provides security assessments on persons whose employment with the Government of Canada requires them to have lawful access to classified information or sensitive sites, such as major ports, airports, nuclear facilities or the Parliamentary Precinct.

The CSIS Act also allows the Service, with the approval of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to enter into arrangements with provincial governments and police forces to provide security assessments.

As defined in Treasury Board Secretariat’s Standard on Security Screening, there are four levels of security clearances, each of which requires CSIS security screening:  Site Access, Secret (Level II), Top Secret (Level III), and Enhanced Top Secret (Level III). The level of security clearance required by a position is determined by the need for access to classified information or assets in the performance of duties associated with employment or contractual work. 

In addition, through the GSS, CSIS also:

  • Assists the RCMP with the accreditation process for Canadians and foreign nationals seeking access or participating in major events in Canada (e.g., the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto);
  • Provides security assessments to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with regard to drivers who apply for membership under the Canada-US Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program; and,
  • Through reciprocal screening agreements, provides assessments to foreign governments, agencies and international organizations (e.g., NATO) with regard to Canadians seeking to work in sensitive positions abroad.

A CSIS security assessment is only one element of the security screening process undertaken by a department or agency.  Security screening is conducted with the written consent of the applicant.  The Financial Administration Act (FAA) gives departments and agencies the exclusive responsibility to initiate, grant, deny, revoke or suspend security clearances or site access clearances.  Enquiries on the status of a security clearance application should be directed to the sponsoring department or agency.

How do I get a government security clearance?

If you are applying for a job with the Government of Canada and a government security clearance is a condition of employment, contact the human resources representative of the hiring government department.

If you are a general contractor and require a security clearance, visit the Contract Security Program page of the Public Services and Procurement Canada website at: http://iss-ssi.pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca/ressources-resources/contactisp-contactezpsi-eng.html

Immigration and Citizenship Screening

As authorized by sections 14 and 15 of the CSIS Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Citizenship Act, CSIS conducts immigration and citizenship screening to provide security advice to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on persons seeking some form of status or protection in Canada to ensure that they do not represent a threat to national security.

Through this program, CSIS provides security advice on

  • citizenship applicants;
  • permanent resident applicants;
  • temporary resident visa applicants, whether visitors, students or temporary workers; and
  • persons applying for refugee status in Canada.

CSIS provides advice to its partners on potential threats to national security.  The responsibility for decision making regarding a person’s admissibility to Canada as it relates to visa issuance (temporary or permanent resident visas) as well as citizenship applications belongs to IRCC.  Decisions on applications for refugee status in Canada are made by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

Security screening is conducted with the written consent of the applicant.  As CSIS is one of several organizations that IRCC may consult during the immigration screening process, enquiries related to the status of a specific immigration screening application should be directed to IRCC.

For general information on immigration/ citizenship/ refugee/ visa-related issues, contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) at 1-888-242-2100 or at their website www.cic.gc.ca

How can I find out about the status of my immigration screening file?

Effective 2018-01-08, the Assistant Director, Operations will no longer respond to requests from individuals on the security screening status of security clearance or immigration / citizenship applications.

Under the Privacy Act, individuals have the right to access personal information about themselves held by government institutions.  Therefore, individuals may request records relating to the status of their security clearance or immigration/citizenship applications by visiting the CSIS Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) site at www.csis.gc.ca/tp/index-en.php.

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