What is the change? Canada is requiring police clearances directly from the FBI in certain cases where officials previously accepted clearances from third-party FBI-approved channelers.

What does the change mean? FBI clearances will likely be required for U.S. and other nationals filing at Canadian consulates in the U.S. Those applying for permits at a point of entry most likely can still rely on FBI channelers. Non-U.S. nationals who have lived in the U.S., or U.S. nationals with a criminal record, should be prepared to provide police clearances issued directly by the FBI; channelers will not be accepted in these instances.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits and other permits or visas for which FBI police clearances are required.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals in need of FBI police clearances to enter Canada.
  • Impact on processing times: Obtaining a police clearance directly from the FBI takes between two and three months, significantly longer than obtaining a police clearance from third-party channelers.
  • Business impact: Businesses should factor the change into their timelines for employees in need of FBI police clearances.

Background: Earlier this year, Canada stopped accepting police clearances from FBI-approved channelers in certain cases. Citizenship and Immigration Canada did not publicly announce any changes in policy, and the rules are not perfectly clear. However, U.S. nationals applying for work permits or other permits or visas requiring police clearances at a U.S. consulate should be prepared to provide FBI clearances. Those applying at a point of entry can most likely rely on FBI channelers. The change does not affect non-U.S. nationals who have lived in the U.S. or nationals of any country who have a criminal record; such applicants are required to obtain police clearances directly from the FBI.

BAL Analysis: Because U.S. nationals often apply for work or residence permits at the border, rather than at a Canadian consulate, the change may not have a dramatic impact on most U.S. nationals. The rules remain fluid and, in some cases, unclear; anyone with questions about what type of clearances they need should contact their BAL attorney.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact