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.

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.

Screening for the purposes of seeking the above-mentioned access is only conducted with the written consent of the individual seeking the access or clearance.

While CSIS is responsible for providing security assessments, the Financial Administration Act (FAA) gives client departments and agencies the exclusive responsibility to grant, deny, revoke or suspend security clearances or site access clearances.

As defined in Treasury Board Secretariat’s Standard on Security Screening, there are three levels of security clearances, each of which requires CSIS security screening: Secret (Level II), Top Secret (Level III), and Top Secret Enhanced (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. 

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.

While 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.  Decision on applications for refugee status in Canada are made by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

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

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

To enquire about the status of a government clearance or an immigration screening file, the following information is required*:

  • a full name,
  • date and place of birth,
  • the signature of the applicant, and
  • a return mailing address as replies are not sent by email or fax.

If you are enquiring on behalf of another person, the request must be accompanied by the Consent Form to Disclose Information to a Designated Individual.

Mail or fax the request to CSIS at the attention of:

Assistant Director, Operations
Canadian Security Intelligence Service
P.O. Box 9732, Station T
Ottawa, ON
K1G 4G4
Fax: 613-369-2954

* If a request is missing any of the information noted above, a reply will not be issued. Please allow up to eight weeks for the processing of requests.

Date modified: