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Security Clearance 101

The AIM Group works with consultants and applicants every day and one of the most frequently asked questions from those new to contracting is regarding security clearances. We thought it would be beneficial to provide our blog readers a little primer on security clearances.

What is a security clearance?

Security clearances must be obtained in order to access federal government classified or protected information. Anyone who would like to work for the federal government must obtain a security clearance and complete the screening process.

How much do security screenings cost?

There is no charge for a security clearance; however as part of the process applicants must obtain digital fingerprints. The cost can vary from $45 – $60, depending on location.  Fingerprints are valid for one year.

Why do I need to have my fingerprints taken?

Fingerprints are required to determine if a person has a criminal record, is associated with a criminal organization, is a dangerous offender and is known or suspected of having engaged in criminal activities. Fingerprints versus a name check are used to confirm an individual’s identity.

Can I obtain a security screening on my own?

Individuals cannot obtain a security clearance on their own. Individuals can apply for security clearance through organizations registered under the Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Contract Security Program. Based on job requirements organizations will administer the appropriate level of security clearance for their contractors, consultants and employees.

How long do they take?

That depends. Security clearances can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months and some may even take up to a year. Factors that determine how long your security clearance takes are:

–          The amount of time it takes the applicant to gather the necessary documentation and information (family, travel, residence history etc.)

–          Time spent out of country, such as travel or residing in another country

How will I be informed when I am granted a security clearance?

The CSO will contact you once PSPC has reached out to us about your status; which can include being granted, suspended, denied, revoked, or closed.

Can a non-Canadian citizen or resident request a Canadian security clearance?

It is possible; however, they must come from a country that has a bilateral relationship with Canada. Such countries might include Great Britain, United States, Australia and New Zealand.

We appreciate feedback, so feel free to leave your comments below.

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