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Q & A: Police vs. Background Clearance

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Q. What is the difference between a background check and a police clearance certificate?

There appears to be some uncertainty or overlap in the use of these terms on both this discussion group and in the official immigration literature. I recently submitted my independent PR application from England via London, and I enclosed my original British police clearance certificate. At the same time I have been reading references to the background checks that visa officers may conduct whilst assessing an application.

Answer: The police clearance is conducted with the active involvement of the applicant, and is intended to demonstrate the lack of a criminal record. The background clearance is conducted without the applicant’s intervention, and is intended to “maintain and protect the safety and good order of Canadian society by preventing the admission of persons who threaten the internal security of Canada or endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; to promote international order and justice by denying the use of Canadian territory to persons who are likely to engage in subversive or criminal
activity.”

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