National Security Screening

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: Organization Name

Proposed Response:

If pressed on Permanent Resident Referrals:


The Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) Immigration Security Screening Program is responsible for screening temporary and permanent resident applicants, including refugees from abroad selected for resettlement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The CBSA also conducts mandatory national security screening on all adult-in Canada asylum claimants, and those that present at a Canadian port of entry.

Applications are referred to the CBSA on the basis of established indicators which are mutually agreed upon by security partners. All adult in-Canada asylum seekers are referred for mandatory security screening.

The CBSA’s national security screening inventory is currently trending towards stabilization after experiencing a workload surge, which resulted in a significant backlog that peaked in March 2018, at 30,681 cases. As of February 3, 2020, the backlog and inventory combined at 8,914 cases which represents a 70.2% reduction from peak.

The CBSA has achieved a significant reduction of its overall inventory. Since May 2018, on a national level, zero percent of postponements of refugee protection hearings at the Immigration and Refugee Board were attributable to delayed national security screening recommendations.

Factors that have contributed to the inventory growth include:

The CBSA has implemented and is continuing to explore initiatives designed to maximize efficiency and streamline effectiveness.  These initiatives include, but are not limited to:     

Investments into National Security Screening

The CBSA has been actively implementing many security screening program improvements since November 2017. Increases in the Multi-Year Level Plan (MYLP) funding, irregular migration funding, funding for security screening activities related to the G7, and reallocated internal resources allowed the CBSA to reduce the number of individuals awaiting security screening. These increases contributed approximately $6 million in 2018-19.

This funding facilitated the CBSA’s National Security Screening Division’s implementation of an evergreen Backlog Reduction and Transformation Action Plan to reduce the number of cases awaiting national security screening and to improve the business processes to increase effectiveness and efficiency at multiple points within the program. The Action Plan includes various internal process improvements, increased communication with partners, better leveraging of existing technologies, investment in information technology maintenance, targeted use of overtime, and collaboration with IRCC to increase the quality of temporary resident and permanent resident applicant referrals for national security screening.

In Budget 2019, the CBSA received $381.8 million over five years and $7.3 million in ongoing funding to support the implementation of the Border Enforcement Strategy, which includes up to $6 million over two years (fiscal year 2019-20 to fiscal year 2020-21) to conduct security screening assessments for all adult refugee claimants to identify individuals who may be inadmissible on serious grounds (e.g., security, organized crime, war crimes and crimes against humanity).


Prepared by: Claude St-Denis, Director, Intelligence and Enforcement Branch, 613-957-6912

Approved by: Jacques Cloutier, Vice-President, Intelligence and Enforcement Branch, 613-948-4111

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