The security screening
If you have applied for a position that is designated a ‘position involving confidentiality’ (vertrouwensfunctie), or if you hold a position that has recently been designated so, you will have to undergo security screening.
What is a security screening?
The AIVD carries out the security screening for candidates who have applied for positions involving confidentiality. The screening is regulated by law in the Security Screening Act (Wvo, Wet veiligheidsonderzoeken).
The aim of the screening is to establish whether there will be a security risk if you are employed in a position involving confidentiality, for example because you might be susceptible to bribery or blackmail. The screening therefore also extends to your private life. Screening is carried out on Level A (the most extensive screening), Level B or Level C.
The more sensitive the position, the more extensive the screening. If the screening does not provide good cause not to appoint you, the AIVD will issue a ‘statement of no objection’ (Verklaring van geen bezwaar, VGB). In most cases, a security screening is carried out in relation to a job application. But it might also be the case that your job has been designated a position involving confidentiality since you were appointed. If that is the case, you can only remain in your job if a ‘statement of no objection’ is issued.
Content of the screening
The security screening focuses on the question whether there will be a risk to national security if you are employed in a position involving confidentiality. It is therefore important that you are honest, independent, loyal and a person of integrity. Various factors may point to a security risk. During screening, emphasis is therefore placed on investigating the following aspects:
- criminal records
- subversive and anti-democratic activities
- financial vulnerability
- undesirable influence
- deceitful or secretive behaviour
- lapse of integrity
- irresponsible and risky behaviour.
A security screening begins with an administrative investigation. The AIVD carries out an investigation in its own records and in those of the local authority, the police and Ministry of Justice, among others. Your financial circumstances may also be investigated. If you have lived outside the Netherlands, the AIVD can make enquiries of its partner service in the country or countries in question.
In some cases – depending on the nature of the position involving confidentiality – an additional field investigation is required. A field investigation involves, among other things, interviews with you and your partner, if you have one, and sometimes with people close to you. You should therefore ensure that you are available for an interview with the AIVD in the weeks after you have submitted the form. These interviews are confidential. An investigator will telephone you to arrange to visit you at home and conduct a personal interview.
During the interview, the investigator will ask personal questions about your background, that of your partner (if you have one) and of your family and friends. This information will provide a picture of possible risks to national security. The interview will take up one morning or afternoon on average, but you should allow for the fact that it may take longer. The investigator will verify his/her identity as an employee of the AIVD. The AIVD does not use any special intelligence methods (e.g. telephonetapping) to carry out a security screening; this is forbidden by law.
All positions involving confidentiality are different. Therefore, every screening is ‘custom made’. The AIVD assesses the security risks that relate to your present/future job and your personal vulnerabilities. The asssessment criteria are set out in the Personal Conduct and Circumstances Guide. The issuing or refusal of a ‘statement of no objection’ says nothing about your suitability for the position in question.
In the security screening, the AIVD assesses whether any of the indicators mentioned above could constitute a risk to national security. The AIVD bases its assessments on recognisable and factual conduct.
If you are applying for a position involving confidentiality and the selection procedure has been completed, your employer, or future employer, will apply to the AIVD for a security screening. You do not need to initiate this yourself. Further procedure is as follows:
- Your employer, or future employer, gives you information about the security screening and how to complete the application form.
- You can download a digital form from the website www.aivd.nl. The form asks you to provide personal information about yourself and your close friends and family. It is important that you answer all the questions in full. If you do not complete the form properly, you will not be able to print it out. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can use a paper version of the form – your employer or future employer will provide this.
- You place the completed form and enclosures (such as a copy of your means of identification and a passport photo) in a sealed envelope and give this to your employer or future employer. Thus the employer cannot access your form.
- The AIVD carries out the security screening.
- The AIVD will inform you in writing of the outcome no later than eight weeks after your form has been received. If it is not possible to complete the screening within this period, you will be informed accordingly.
- If the screening does not provide good cause not to appoint you, the AIVD will issue a ‘statement of no objection’ to you and your employer.
- The AIVD can refuse or withdraw a ‘statement of no objection’. In such cases, it will usually send out a notification that it intends to refuse or withdraw the VGB. You are allowed to respond to this notification or intent. The AIVD may review its decision and issue the ‘statement of no objection’ after all. If you receive a definite refusal or withdrawal, you can lodge an appeal against the decision with an appeal committee. If you do not agree with the committee’s decision, you can then appeal to the courts or the Council of State.