+1(514) 937-9445 or Toll-free (Canada & US) +1 (888) 947-9445

The anatomy of a Background Check? - <<<<<<IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS>>>>>>>

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
I have been getting questions on what happens in a BGC a lot in the last few months. Even though in my post, “[A]natomy of an application” available on many threads, I do discuss this briefly, but I felt there was a need for a more exhaustive post. This post in no way accurately depicts the procedures adopted by the CSIS, Canada’s premier security agency, as their procedures are highly confidential and will never be made public. However, this post is an amalgamation of the information publically available, and my personal experiences with working for the governments and law enforcement agencies in different countries.

Since this is a long post and each post cannot be over 10000 characters, I am posting the entire post in replies. The post is alphabetically numbered.

So here it goes:

A. What is CSIS and its mandate?

Before we even venture into looking at how CSIS conducts background checks, it is essential to have a brief knowledge of CSIS and what it does. CSIS in its publication has introduced itself with the following statement:

“With the large number of homeland conflicts throughout the world,
preventing the importation of these conflicts into communities
in Canada is of particular concern to all Canadians.”

The mandate of the CSIS concerning security screening of immigrants is laid down in Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (hereinafter “the IRPA”). Sections 14 and 15 of the CSIS Act authorizes CSIS to provide security assessments for the review of immigration applications to the IRCC. These assessments relate directly to the security inadmissibility criteria contained in the IRPA, with the final decision resting with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Unlike other intelligence services across the globe, CSIS until early 2000 did not operate on foreign soil and its operations concerned the protection of Canadian national security mainly against internal threats. However, since threats to the security of Canada can come from criminals or terrorists using Canadian soil to perpetrate attacks of terrorist activities, both within Canada and target foreign nations, CSIS was tasked with screening all applicants seeking admission into Canada through IRCC.

CSIS is tasked with conducting security clearance for all applicants in addition the police clearances certificates furnished by the applicants, for all applicants between the ages of 18 and 65 years. The BGC is conducted to detect applicants who are, or have been, involved in espionage, subversion, or terrorism.

The screening of potential immigrants to Canada is a complex process that involves several government departments and agencies such as IRCC, Health Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, and RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] and CSIS, each of whom has specific responsibilities. A culmination of what these agencies do determines admissibility based on medical, criminality, security etc.

Specifically CSIS, in accordance with section 2 of CSIS Act, that deals with threats to the security of Canada. The IRPA in Division 4, specifically section 34 deals with the inadmissibility based on security, which is assessed by CSIS. Section 34 includes accessing the applicant for the following:

Security

34 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for

a) engaging in an act of espionage that is against Canada or that is contrary to Canada’s interests;
b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government
a. engaging in an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;
c) engaging in terrorism;
d) being a danger to the security of Canada;
e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or
f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (b.1) or (c).

CSIS does what is known as risk management in the processing of security checks on prospective immigrants, role of CSIS focuses on those applicants who, on the basis of analysis and experience, are most likely to present a security risk. The advice provided by the CSIS assists the IRCC in determining whether prospective immigrants are inadmissible persons under the Immigration Act.

The assessment of CSIS is not binding on IRCC, and IRCC independently reviews the CSIS assessment in the final review before the application is approved. This is another reason for the delays, and more on this later.


B. When does your application go to CSIS?


Usually, the Security screening is the last step, but for some applicants, this starts early in the process. These applicants are PNP applicants. This is because a province has nominated them through their internal mechanism, thereby in a way giving them eligibility, and the role of IRCC greatly decreases, unlike FSW, CEC and other application where IRCC has to review every detail to ensure that the applicant meets the program requirement. This is another reason why PNP applications usually tend to be processed faster. More on PNP in another post, which I will post in the next few days.
 

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
C. How is the security screening done?

Security screening is all about collecting as much data about the applicant and analyzing it. To make this easy to understand I am dividing the answer to this question in two parts, collecting data and analysis.

a) Collecting data

CSIS collects data about an applicant through its own databases, the shared databases from countries that have partnered with Canada, international agencies, and by requesting information from foreign countries.

CSIS maintains and regularly updates its databases with information from coming in across the world. This includes data on the names of individuals involved in illegal activities, terrorist activities, political activities etc. This database is further fueled by agencies such as INTERPOL, which releases information shared by member countries and accessible by other member countries. To provide you with an example, a criminal incident (including white collar crime and financial fraud) involving foreign nationals, which happened in a country in Europe is under investigation. To arrest these individuals, the European country will release information to INTERPOL, which will be shared to all member nations. CSIS, based on this released information, will gather more information and update its databases, even though the suspects are not in Canada. This is how the database keeps growing.

After the attacks of 9/11, US and Canada to deal with terrorism had many high level meetings and now they share data. The US authorities have access to Canadian database and vise versa. Similarly, Canada partnered with UK, New Zealand, and Australia, which it calls partner nations, and these partners share date, including criminal records, with each other. This is a very complicated process, as if there is a lead picked up by the security agency in Australia, the names and identities of the suspects is immediately released to Canada and other partners. Canada does the same. This is how the database is growing rapidly every minute.

Finally, when CSIS has concerns with a specific applicant, based on his travel history, or his connections, political involvement, etc. they can seek information from foreign government under Section 16 of the CSIS Act.​

Collection of information concerning foreign states and persons

16 (1) Subject to this section, the Service may, in relation to the defence of Canada or the conduct of the international affairs of Canada, assist the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, within Canada, in the collection of information or intelligence relating to the capabilities, intentions or activities of

(a) any foreign state or group of foreign states; or
(b) any person other than
(i) a Canadian citizen,
(ii) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or
(iii) a corporation incorporated by or under an Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province.


b) Analyzing Data

All relevant information collected by the CSIS is exhaustively analysed in order to assist IRCC in its subsequent decision as to whether they are inadmissible under the IRPA. “The term ‘security screenings’ refers to the procedures used to identify persons seeking admission to Canada who are, or have been, involved in espionage, subversion, or terrorism.” Although the term refers to the scrutiny of an applicant’s political orientation, beliefs and activities, as part of the normal immigrant selection process, criminal records checks are also conducted wherever possible. In analyzing the data the CSIS broadly is concerned with the following:​

i. espionage, terrorism or unacceptable political activity
ii. persons who may engage in violence
iii. persons who may have committed war crimes
iv. persons who pose a threat to Canadian security
v. persons involved with terrorist governments​


D. What are the processing times?

There is no recent data released by CSIS on the processing times. However, in 2014-2015 CSIS processed 33,900 permanent resident applications and in 2015-2016 it processed 56,500 applications. As per the old data from early 2000s, the average processing time for security screening requests is 62 days. Fifty-one percent of all cases were completed within this time frame. The remaining 49 percent of requests averaged 110 days to complete. Less than one percent of all cases took longer than twelve months. With the introduction of biometrics for citizens from select countries, the processing times are expected to decrease. Given that the economic immigrants are a low risk category, the processing times usually range from 25 – 90 days after the introduction of the express entry for most applications.

E. What kind of applicants face stricter security screening?

In the past CSIS has been criticized for racial profiling applicants based on country of origin, race, religion, travel history, political affiliation, but these factors are the primary means of conducting security screening. Applicants from countries known to harbor terrorists, from unstable countries, of some specific religion and faith, with specific political affiliation are more prone to undergo stringent security screening. This also includes travel history to countries linked with terrorism, drug source countries, inter-religion or inter-nationality marriage etc.
 

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
F. Why do BGC takes so long for some applicants?

If your application is stuck in the BGC and your GCMS notes show that everything else has been completed, then it could be wither of the two scenarios:

a) The application is stuck with CSIS. CSIS may be conducting an in-depth investigation into your file. This could be a result of your past military service, extensive travel to suspicious countries, known political or governmental affiliation. Sometimes it could be as remote as the company you worked for is under investigation by a law enforcement agency of a foreign country. Only since you were an employee, and not named in the investigation, CSIS will take its time to probe the issue before it gives its conclusive report.​

b) The CSIS report is awaiting final review from IRCC: In most cases the delay is at this stage. CSIS after filing its report, the IRCC has to make a final review and a determination. When CSIS flags a few things, CSIS does not recommend that the application be cancelled, but it is on the IRCC to determine if based on the CSIS report an applicant would be inadmissible in accordance with IRPA. Most applications are held up here. This is because the IRCC will send that report to officials specifically trained to look into the inadmissibility issues based on security and they will make a final determination, which will then be approved by an agent.​


G. What can an applicant do if his application is stuck at BGC?

If an application is stuck at BGC for a very long time, i.e. more than 3-5 months after your eligibility is cleared you have two options:

a) You can inquire about the status of your security check directly from CSIS. To enquire about the status of a an immigration screening file, the following information is required*:

a. a full name,
b. date and place of birth,
c. the signature of the applicant, and
d. a return mailing address as replies are not sent by email or fax.
e. 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.
f. 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​
It takes CSIS 8 weeks to process these requests. Information on this is available at https://www.csis.gc.ca/scrtscrnng/index-en.php#bm02 Some applicants have successfully obtained information from CSIS.​

b) If CSIS has finished the security screening, then your file is pending final review with IRCC. There is nothing much you can do at this stage. However, there is anecdotal evident that ordering GCMS notes does initiate the process. This is because every time you order GCMS notes, an agent will review the notes before releasing them. If the file has been reviewed by the Agent, and is pending posting the update on the system, the same will be done by the agent when he is reviewing the notes and this will move your file ahead.​
 
Last edited:

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
H. Some scandals CSIS has been involved with.

Even though CSIS is a professional agency that is tasked with the security screening of prospective immigrants, it does not stop its activities there. Even after an applicant is granted PR status, CSIS continues to monitor his activities, as another security screening is done when the PR applies for citizenship. CSIS, from the time someone applies to enter Canada until long after they have citizenship is involved in surveilling, gathering information, creating files, developing profiles, writing and passing on secret reports. There have been frequent complaints about general harassment, and also about the specific behaviour of CSIS. CSIS agents have been known to show up at an individual’s door late at night. As SIRC reports indicate, CSIS agents regularly fail to inform the individual of their right to have an attorney present.

According to the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR), students of Arab origin are being approached by CSIS agents on campus for questioning. They have reportedly been threatened with deportation and revocation of their status if they fail to provide information about community members (“In The Shadow of The Law”, a report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), 2003).

Toronto immigration lawyer Faisal Kutty elaborates, “Showing up at homes and workplaces unannounced; offering money and favors for “information”; intimidating and threatening newcomers; inquiring about a person’s religiosity; and discouraging people from engaging lawyers are some of the recurring themes that I have come across from clients.” (Faisal Kutty, “The Dirty Work of Canadian Intelligence”, April 2004)

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) has distributed tens of thousands of “Know Your Rights” guides and organized workshops across the country to help community members deal with CSIS and the RCMP. A community survey conducted in 2004 by CAIR-CAN reports that security officials were using, “troubling tactics” such as “discouraging legal representation, aggressive and threatening behaviour, threats of arrest pursuant to the antiterrorism act, visits at work, intrusive and irrelevant questionning, improper identification, informant solicitation, and interrogation of a minor.” (CAIR-CAN, “Presumption of Guilt”, 2004).

In the past CSIS has been involved in the following scandals:

Maher Arar. Documents divulged in the Arar inquiry reveal that CSIS believed “the U.S. would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him,” as early as two days after Mr. Arar was deported by the US to Jordan, and then on to Syria, where he was tortured and imprisonned for nearly a year. According to the Arar inquiry report, CSIS nevertheless visited Syria and met with Syrian intelligence agents during Arar’s incarceration, even passing on questions to be posed to Arar. The information Arar provided under torture was then passed on to CSIS, who in turn passed it on to other Canadian authorities. CSIS's position during this period was that Arar should not return to Canada. Syrian authorities were aware of the position of CSIS, despite Canada's official demand that Arar should be released immediately. Arar is one of several individuals who have gone public with similar stories, including Benamar Benatta, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin and Abousfian Abdelrazik. The report on this is available at http://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/402/SECU/Reports/RP4004074/securp03/securp03-e.pdf


Security certificate cases. Security certificates are a “legal” way of doing the same thing that was done to Arar, Benatta, Almalki, El Maati, Nureddin and Abdelrazik: on the basis of secret suspicions, attempting to send people to places where it is known they will be tortured and in the meantime keeping them in indefinite detention. CSIS is the government agency which prepares security certificate cases. Even within the fundamentally flawed framework of the certificate, CSIS has been mired in several scandals, including the destruction of evidence, and possible involvement in media leaks. CSIS has been accused of using information obtained under coercion and torture in these and similar cases. For example, CSIS is known to have introduced information obtained from Abu Zubaydah-the poster boy of the CIA’s “black sites” programme-into the Charkaoui case. CSIS continues to deny that it uses information obtained under torture, but in November 2005, SIRC SIRC reported that CSIS was in no position to make "an absolute assurance" to the government that information it receives from allied spy agencies is not obtained as a result of torture. What is a security certificate - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_certificate

Air India. CSIS destroyed key wiretap evidence and those responsible were not brought to justice. A suspected CSIS mole, Surjan Singh Gill, was identified by the RCMP as one of six main suspects in the bombing. The RCMP believed that he had the explosives and airline ticket with him shortly before two bombs were apparently checked onto flights in Vancouver. Gill left Canada in 2000 and has never been charged. (Globe and Mail, 4 June 2003). More on Air India Case - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_India_Flight_182

Bhupinder S. Liddar. CSIS was caught lying to SIRC [Security Intelligence Review Committee] (in SIRC’s words, the agency “purposefully misled” SIRC in order to "suppress information that was embarrassing to the Service") to cover up its errors in the Liddar case. SIRC reported that CSIS had conducted a “hasty, slipshod investigation” and had ‘a regrettable’ attitude that supporting Arab causes can be suspicious.” (Globe and Mail, 14 September 2005). https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/csis-vows-changes-amid-criticism/article986548/

Targeting Unions. During the 1980s and 1990s, CSIS spied on the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). Former CSIS officer John Farrell confessed that, as CUPW engaged in the difficult negotiations leading to the strike of 1991, he and fellow officers prepared dossiers on "troublesome" CUPW leaders. They sought and received authorization to intercept every piece of mail delivered to the homes of targetted labour organizers and to inspect their garbage. They illegally planted a listening device in a postal station and stole keys from a postal depot to break into apartment buildings and mail boxes (Andrew Mitrovica, Covert Entry: Spies, Lies and Crimes Inside Canada's Secret Service). CSIS has always denied these activities. CUPW was not the only union of interest to CSIS. Marc-André Boivin infiltrated Quebec’s CSN for 15 years - first for the RCMP and then for CSIS. Boivin was involved in making bomb threats during a hotel strike.

Heritage Front. Grant Bristow, one of the founders of the neo-Nazi group Heritage Front was employed for five years by CSIS. According to an article by Bill Dunphy of the Toronto Sun, Bristow was supposed to be working as a mole for CSIS, while serving as the intelligence chief and co-director of security for the Heritage Front. However, his active role in hate activities has raised questions. Bristow allegedly ran a programme of harassment against anti-racists in Canada, and provided the Front with personal information on them. More on Heritage Front - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Front



I hope you found this information useful. I try to answer as many questions as I can, but it is humanly impossible for me to answer specific application questions for all applicants. So lets keep this thread to discuss BGC and what other forum members have experienced.

If you have any specific questions for me, please use the threads in my signature.

Thank you.
 
Last edited:

Sugar2016

Hero Member
Jul 21, 2016
271
34
Thanks for these posts v interesting.
I suspect processing times for security clearing have increased not decreased. In my case I have been stuck on security clearing for 2.5 months so far and I think mine should be one of the simpler cases.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RezJay

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
Thanks for these posts v interesting.
I suspect processing times for security clearing have increased not decreased. In my case I have been stuck on security clearing for 2.5 months so far and I think mine should be one of the simpler cases.
With no data released in processing times from CSIS in its last report, it is difficult to predict, but CSIS did do an amazing job at processing the Syrian refugees, while balancing the IRCC economic and family immigrants. I would say most cases clear security within 2 months, but some can take as much as 4-5 months to clear. I have also seen applicants who had to wait for almost a year before their application was cleared.
 

Blanka

Star Member
Sep 10, 2014
135
35
Category........
PNP
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
2221
AOR Received.
27-06-2016
Just to add up to statistics, security screening since Sept 2016, so almost 9 months now.
EU origin, travelling only to few EU countries. No military or government service, not part of any organization, political party or anything.
Case that was suppose to be straight forward, for some reason got the red flag and now in a process for a year.
 
  • Like
Reactions: fotjon

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
Just to add up to statistics, security screening since Sept 2016, so almost 9 months now.
EU origin, travelling only to few EU countries. No military or government service, not part of any organization, political party or anything.
Case that was suppose to be straight forward, for some reason got the red flag and now in a process for a year.
From the post:

To provide you with an example, a criminal incident (including white collar crime and financial fraud) involving foreign nationals, which happened in a country in Europe is under investigation. To arrest these individuals, the European country will release information to INTERPOL, which will be shared to all member nations. CSIS, based on this released information, will gather more information and update its databases, even though the suspects are not in Canada. This is how the database keeps growing.

This is also when additional requests for for information to foreign countries is sent, adding to the time and delay.

Another factor that I have noticed is similar names. In the absence of biometrics, whenever similar names or backgrounds show up, it create unnecessary confusion and additional checks to ensure that proper screening.
 

olak131

Hero Member
Mar 23, 2017
204
67
CANADA
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
OTTAWA
App. Filed.......
10/2/2017
Doc's Request.
8/4/2017
AOR Received.
10/2/2017
Thank you for your insightful post.
I have a question.
My GCMS notes showed criminality pending until RCMP is received, does that mean after we have uploaded the RCMP police check, do they still do some verification?
And when security says "not started" does that literally mean not started?
Lastly, is it true that security won't start until criminality is passed?
 

happybelly

Full Member
Mar 29, 2017
40
3
INLAND
Category........
CEC
Visa Office......
CPC-OTTAWA
AOR Received.
03-Jan-2017
Med's Done....
25-Feb-2017
Thanks, the information is really helpful.

I just hope my security screen can finish in 3 months as the average time~
 

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
Thanks for this Legalfalcon, however, "PNP applications usually tend to be processed faster" it is weird since PNP seems to be the slowest now with a reasonable time difference.

Historically, they have been processed the fastest, something things may change, but I would still say that the processing of PNP is faster than FSW.
 
  • Like
Reactions: rovar473

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
Thank you for your insightful post.
I have a question.
My GCMS notes showed criminality pending until RCMP is received, does that mean after we have uploaded the RCMP police check, do they still do some verification?
After you upload, the only thing that is done is that the RCMP PCC is verified with the RCMP.

And when security says "not started" does that literally mean not started? As the post states, security includes criminality and security screening, and if your security says not started, then it is not started.


Lastly, is it true that security won't start until criminality is passed?
 

legalfalcon

VIP Member
Sep 21, 2015
16,355
8,594
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Category........
FSW
Visa Office......
Ottawa
NOC Code......
4112
App. Filed.......
03-09-2015
Doc's Request.
01-10-2015
AOR Received.
03-09-2015
Med's Done....
17-08-2015
Passport Req..
05-04-2016
VISA ISSUED...
12-04-2016
LANDED..........
05-05-2016
Thanks, the information is really helpful.

I just hope my security screen can finish in 3 months as the average time~
Keep your fingers crossed
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ray1234