Background InvestigationsObtaining Security Clearance

Ask Your Clearance Questions Part 6

No doubt, this blog is the most popular and reliable place to ask questions regarding an inherently confusing subject – security clearances. Ask your questions here and our regular contributors will try to answer them. Please do not address a contributor by name to ensure anyone who has knowledge might answer. Do not include your name, email address, or other information that can identify you. If you have questions regarding careers, job hunting, salaries, interviewing, or other career-related topics, see the thread above.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    Ok so Im currently waiting for the results of my Q clearance investigation. After a lot of reading (and personal experience), I am very familiar with how the whole process works with secret/L and TS/Q clearances. One of the teams Im interested requires SCI. I could not find anything though on how SCI clearances are done, so can anyone here give me some insight? Im not looking for the answer “well its just harder to get” or “its a longer process” because that is obvious. Can someone quantify how the investigation/adjudication for a SCI would differ from a basic TS/Q? Like, What would they look at when conducting a background check that they dont bother with for the others? Or just different adjudication guidelines?

    So in summary: lots of info out there on secret/L and TS/Q but nada for SCI. Help please!

  2. Avatar

    Has anyone recently taken an FBI pre-employment poly? I hear they have restructured the test to make it a little less invasive, i.e. sticking to questions in relation to information disclosed on your SF86.

    I also hear rumors that they may have even widdled it down to simply a CI poly.

    Any insight on this?


  3. Avatar

    Anona Moose:
    SCI is based on the same investigation (SSBI) as used for a TS and Q. Actually, that’s the reason for the investigation’s name–Single Scope Background Investigation. Before Dec 91 there were two investigations with different scopes: a BI for TS and an SBI for SCI. They created one investigation (with a single scope) that could be used for both TS and SCI.

    The same Adjudicative Guidelines are used for collateral and SCI clearances; however, DCID 6/4, which governs all SCI, adds specific requirements for US citizenship of all immediate family members and in all likelihood, the “Foreign Influence” guideline is applied more strictly.

    If the same agency is processing and adjudicating the collateral clearance and the SCI eligibility at the sametime, theoretically the SCI shouldn’t take any longer than a collateral TS or Q. Again theoretically, when the agencies are different, a little extra time is needed to transfer the investigative file from one agency to the other. What happens in theory and in practice often differs significantly, especially when it concerns SCI.

  4. Avatar

    What is required for a apublic trust clearance?

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    I am returning as an intern for a DoD contracter this summer. The security department sent me an e-mail saying I may need SCI access for this position. I am supposed to start in about 6 weeks or less, so I doubt they will make me get clearance. However, on the prescreening paperwork I filled out, I left out several things, fearing it would affect me getting rehired. I said the extent of my marijuana use was earlier than it actually was(I said I stopped in 2003, but I did it off and on until late 2006). I also had a sales job about 6 years ago where I stole. I offered to pay back what I took and left the job on not too bad of terms, because they still said they would give me a recommendation because I was a good worker. I was just wondering if I were to fill out an SF-86 soon or in the future, would the agency performing the clearance look at these prescreening documents. I plan to disclose everything on the SF-86, but was wondering if they would see the discrepancies and contact my employer. Or should I say I made some mistakes on the prescreening paperwork and hope they still rehire me. Thanks.

  6. Avatar

    I noticed in your book that concerning SSBI and SSBI/PR investigations that all short term employment (under 6 months) is verified. How is this done? What information does the investigator want to verify exactly?

  7. Avatar

    An upcoming interview with a local government contractor has me concerned about the ability to receive a security clearance. I am graduating from grad school and returning to the work world after several years either in school or unable to find work. I have a high debt load (60-70K) from school and have a delinquent with bad credit due to financial issues (either looking for work or medical issues) from being out of work. I have no other issues (legal or otherwise) to be concerned about but it seems like from this blog it’s a 50-50 crap shoot. I am 47 , and feel like I am starting over but don’t want to put alot of faith and energy into this opportunity when I can pursue something else if this job is that uncertain.
    Any thoughts..?

  8. Avatar

    I submitted my clearance application and fingerprints back in November. Last week I called my security office to see if I could get a status update. The office told me that the investigation had been completed in February and was now in ajudication. This is for a SECRET clearance. I asked just about everyone of the refrences I had on the application and nobody said that they had been contacted by an investigator. I was not contacted either. I had an open container ticket a few years ago which I did reveal in the section that asked if I had recieved a traffic fine over a certain dollar amount, the ticket was like $260.

    Could it be a bad sign that they didnt bother to interview anybody? Or maybe a good sign that they didnt need to? Does everyone have to go through ajudication?

  9. Avatar

    I’m up for a secret clearance through the Army contractor I work for. I have one bad situation regarding a previous job 3 years ago where I left the job mostly due to unfavorable cirumstances. The thing is, I didn’t HAVE to leave, it was by choice. Should I list this in the section “left a job under unfavorable circumstances”? Do they request previous employers personnel files? I’m leaning toward just listing it just in case.

    Thanks for your time,


  10. Avatar

    Hello- I got a job offer from the department of defense, office of the inspector general.. I need security clearnance (i would assume secret? but the forms said secret or TS is required) I filled out the e-qip and my question is:

    I admitted to trying marijuana twice four years ago in college. I am now 22, that was when i was 18. Will this effect me getting clearance?

    I have no other problems that i know of, credit score around 770, no medical health problems, nothing i can think of except experimental drug use.. Also, how long does secret clearance usually take?? Thanks!!

  11. Avatar

    I forgot to ask in my above question, there isnt a poly for secret clearance is there??

  12. Avatar

    Josh –

    None of my references were interviewed for my Secret. I was not interviewed for my Secret. It was granted in 7 months (1 month for interim secret).

  13. Avatar

    Nervous –

    As the other contributors mention, drug use must be mitigated by passage of time/rehabilitation. I don’t know enough to say, but yes it will be investigated.

    Also, a polygraph is required for some intelligence agencies (CIA, NSA), SCI clearance (SCI is on top of TS), and some SAP (special access programs).

    I’m no expert but I would highly doubt a polygraph would ever be required for generic DoD Secret. If they were that worried about security so much that they polygraph people, they wouldn’t take just a secret level, it would be TS.

  14. Avatar


    I am somewhat puzzled as to why you are confessing your sins in this forum. I will say, not just because I am an Investigator, but as a citizen, if you are willing to lie on your form why would anyone want to give you access to anything sensitive. This is a matter of trust, if you lie on a simple form, why should you be trusted? Sounds cliche–but the truth will set you free.

  15. Avatar

    BP –

    I agree with BW AN INVESTIGATOR above. Having a clearance is a tremendous burden. Everyone complains about the dangers of an Orwellian government, but by accepting the responsibility of classified information you are voluntarily subjecting yourself to that. If you do not feel you can bear out every one of your personal secrets while you are eligible for such information you should not accept the job.

    People make mistakes. If you are honest and upfront about your mistakes people will respect you more. Just be honest about your pre-employment forms. The theft and drug use do not automatically disqualify you, but lying on an SF-86 does.

    I personally do not know if the agency has access to your pre-screening documents but if I had to guess I’d say no.

    On a side note: when I was “pre-screened” for TS the DoD contractor FSO made it very clear I should not tell him whether or not I would answer yes/no to specific questions on the SF-86 because by law they cannot discriminate employment based on that. He simply asked, looking at all the questions, would I have a problem going through the process. So I’m curious as to why they made you fill out the unofficial pre-screening form.

  16. Avatar

    Certain contractors may include prescreening documentation to the investigator when he/she gets your
    SF-86. If the information stated on the prescreening form contradicts the info on the SF-86 you will have to explain why there is a contradiction.

    Also you may have to explain it to the security department of the contractor even before you have your interview. They may want to know why there is contradicting info on the forms.

    I agree with BW in reference to your falsification on yoru prescreening form. It concerns me as a citizen not just as an investigator.

  17. Avatar

    I am applying for a secret clearance. A few years ago I failed a urinalisys in the national guard. I was not discharged or even lost any rank because of it since it was a minor amount of marijuana. I recieved an honorable discharge a couple years later. I didnt put that I had ever done any drugs on my sf-86 is it likely that the investigator looked into my military records and seen that. It was supposed to be removed from my record because I completed a drug class. I read they only do a nac lac and credit check. If I dont get the job its not that big of a deal I some other opprotunities.

  18. Avatar

    Sarah C:
    The verification is done by a investigator who will review the employment file personally or with the assistance of a company employee (usually HR rep.). The investigator will try to verify as much of the info on the SF86 (against info in the file) as possible and may collect names of references from the file. Of particularly importance are dates, position title, rehire eligibility, reason for termination, and any info regarding disciplinary action or misconduct.

  19. Avatar

    Mike Kertiss:
    For contractors, a Public Trust investigation can range from a “NACI plus credit check” to an MBI to an LBI to a BI (and rarely a PT-SSBI) depending on the sensitivity level of the position. On the “resources” page under the “about security clearances” tab of my website there is a two page “Investigative Chart for Security & Public Trust Clearances.” It should answer most of your questions.

  20. Avatar

    There are only a few things that will definitely result in a security clearance denial and lying on the SF86 is not one of them (neither is theft or past drug use). Where defense contractor records are concerned, an investigator should be able to get access to any relevant record. An investigator is prohibited from telling anyone (outside his investigative channels) anything about you, except that information which is necessary to positively identify you to a record custodian or reference.

  21. Avatar

    I was just curious if the investigations differ for the reason you are applying for a clearance. I am wanting to go into the army as an officer candidate. The clearance I need is a secret, will I recieve the same investigation as a contractor applying for a secret clearance?

  22. Avatar

    All security clearance investigations are adjudicated. It’s the adjudicator who grants the clearance. An NACLC investigation for a Secret clearance does not ordinarily involve a Subject Interview or reference interviews. Interviews are only required when there is significant derogatory information. Technically you made a minor error when filling out your SF86. An “open container” offense should have been listed at 23d (alcohol/drug related charge), not at 23f (other offenses, including traffic offenses). But as long as you identified the offense as involving alcohol, you don’t need to worry about it. Adjudication takes 1 to 3 months, so you should hear something soon.

  23. Avatar

    B Hanson:
    Recommend you read my two articles on “Personal Finances and Security clearances” posted at It should help put things in focus and hopefully narrow your concerns. If you still have questions, come back here and I’ll try to answer them.

  24. Avatar

    James D:
    Chapter 1 of my book, Security Clearance Manual, provides detailed information about the components (scope) and period of coverage of an NACLC investigation. An NACLC is the type of investigation used for DoD contractor Secret clearances, unless the position involves both a Secret clearance and a Public Trust clearance. If a Public Trust clearance is also involved, the investigation is more comprehensive. You should read pages 3 thru 7 regarding NAC and NACLC. Chapter 1 is posted at my website.

    To list or not to list? I always advise people, “when in doubt, list it.” However there can be a potential downside for an interim clearance when you unnecessarily list some information. If an interim clearance is not important in your case, list it and explain it in the comment section. If an interim clearance is important and situations 1-4 under question 22 do not apply, then it only leaves situation #5, “left a job for other reasons under unfavorable circumstances.” “Unfavorable” is based on the perspective of the employer. If it was a no-notice voluntary quit after an argument or disagreement with your boss or some other unpleasantness, list it. If you gave two-week’s notice of your intention to quit after some unpleasantness and worked those two weeks before leaving, I’d say you probably don’t need to list it.

  25. Avatar

    Polygraph exams are not a normal part of background investigations for collateral security clearances (those clearances that do not involve access to highly sensitive programs—SCI, SAP, Q). When you filled out the eQIP, if you provided 10 years worth of education, employment and residence information, it was for a TS clearance. If you provided only 7 years worth information for these same items, it was for a Secret clearance.

    Absent any aggravating or complicating circumstances, trying marijuana twice, four years ago should not result in a final security clearance denial. It could result in not getting an interim clearance.

    Keep in mind that your background investigation could be used for both employment selection purposes and for security clearance purposes. In other words, you and a couple of others may have been given tentative job offers for the same position contingent on getting a clearance. The background investigations could be used to further rank the three of you before the investigations are sent to the clearance adjudicators. Only one of you may get the job. I use the words, “may” and “could” because different federal activities do things differently, but some people on this blog have had this experience.

  26. Avatar

    One of the hallmarks of a good investigator is their ability to remain totally unjudgemental when dealing with people.

  27. Avatar

    Bah, my bad for the misinformation. I’ll leave it to the pros 🙂

  28. Avatar

    I decided to come clean about to my employer about the falsifications on the pre-screening form. I feel better about myself and hopefully they will still let me come back this summer. I know it will also prevent any problems down the line if they decide I need a clearance. Thanks for the advice.

  29. Avatar

    How are past marital problems like a few instances of infidelity viewed in the clearance adjudication process? There was no violence by me or anything else illegal, but I am afraid my mistakes might reflect poorly on my judgement. It was many years ago and I have gone to a professional counselor for counseling since that time to talk about the marital problems. Would those factors mitigate whatever concerns my earlier mistakes would raise? Is it even likely that an investigator would ask specifically about this kind of personal relationship issue? If they do not ask, does that mean I do not need to bring it up? Thank you in advance for your reply.

  30. Avatar

    Very quick question!

    I currently have an Interim Secret. However, more importantly I’m awaiting a TS.

    I was told that my case is Pending PSI adjudication of SSBI OBM. It was closed on 01 30 08. How long does this process normally take? When should expect to hear whether or not I received my TS. Thank you.

  31. Avatar

    Several years ago I was granted a DoD Secret clearance. A few years later I was granted a DoD Top Secret clearance, after an SSBI. Now I’m being submitted for “program access” (“SAP” I assume). It will take a month to be cleared for program access.

    For Secret, I submitted an SF86.
    For Top Secret, I submitted a new SF86.
    For the SAP, I submitted my previous SF86 with handwritten revisions to bring it up to date.

    My concern: In my original SF86 of several years ago, I neglected to include info that I had once been fired from a part-time job. In the second SF86, I remembered the incident and reported it. The inconsistency between the first and second SF86 did not come up in the investigation as far as I know.

    What is the process for going from TS to SAP? Will they look back two SF86s ago and note the discrepancy?

  32. Avatar

    William Henderson:

    I was concerned about that but I decided not to put the fine in the alcohol section because it didnt actually involve me being intoxicated or even drinking at all. I allowed a friend to bring his open beer with him from a house we were at one night.

    If the investigators would of had a problem with this or anything else on my application they would have set up an interview with me right? I am right now looking at it as a good sign that I didnt get interviewed.

    Thanks for your help sir

  33. Avatar

    Hi Mr. Henderson,

    I just want to say that your book has been a big help for me in filling out the SF 86 form. My recruiter doesn’t know a lot about security clearances so he couldn’t answer a lot of my questions but your book and this blog has been a great guide in helping me fill out the form. However, I have one question: In filling out the “Education” part, in your book, you said to list correspondence/distance learning education, but what if I am currently enrolled in different colleges across the country (about 6 colleges, I’m lacking some subjects to get my Bachelor’s Degree and the subjects I needed weren’t offered at just one school, that’s why I had to enroll at several) and I just finished some correspondence courses from FEMA (about 46 credits), do I need to list that on the form too? Or would it matter if I left it out? I had to ask because I’m confused if I should list it or not.

    Thank you!

  34. Avatar

    My husband recently submitted his paperwork for a TS clearance because of his job as a government contractor. He has held a secret for about 20 years. His last re-investigation for his secret was about 3 years ago. I have 2 credit cards that he doesn’t know about as our finances are separate except for a joint checking / savings account. His name is not on the credit cards or my separate bank accounts, and vice versa. My cards each have a $4500 limit and are close to being maxed out. I have not been late on any payments for anything since 2003, I have nothing in collections, but I did declare bankruptcy in 2001 (may). This was before we were married. We have been married 7 years this July. He was already granted an interim TS clearance. Here are my questions:

    1) Will my husband be privy to my financial information, or is this something the investigator will contact me on separately?

    2) Will this adversely affect his clearance?

  35. Avatar


    Unfortunately you need to list all schools, including correspondences courses from FEMA. The paper SF86 mentions the need to list correspondence schools and extention classes. If you are submitting a paper SF86, attach an addendum listing the schools. If you are going to use eQIP, I’m not sure how much you can cram into a comment section on eQIP, but enter as much as you can and give your security officer a paper addendum if it all doesn’t fit.

    The problem is that you records at other educational institutions may have information about transfer credits from the online/correspondence schools. This will cause an investigation to take longer, because it will change from being conducted concurrently at different locations to being sequentially at different locations. And any omission/inaccuracy (no matter how innocent) slow things down and raises questions of intentional omission.

  36. Avatar

    If your clearance is being adjudicated by DISCO, it should be done in 1 to 3 months tops. If there is moderate to significant derogatory information in the case, it gets transferred from DISCO to DOHA for adjudication and takes significantly longer.

  37. Avatar

    Here’s what the policy says about your situation: “(the agency) can review an existing background investigation and/or request an investigative check only if the SF86, an SF86C, or pen/ink changes to an existing SF86 contains new substantive information of security concern not previously considered in the . . . last security clearance adjudication and could serve as the basis for disqualification.”

    Even if they found good reason to look back that far, it sounds like you have a good explanation and corrected the error on the 2nd SF86. If it’s the only discrepancy, I wouldn’t worry about. No one expects perfection.

  38. Avatar


    1) Will my husband be privy to my financial information, or is this something the investigator will contact me on separately? — no; no.

    2) Will this adversely affect his clearance? — no.

    The only exception to this will be if your (non-joint) credit information somehow shows up on his credit report.

  39. Avatar

    As a side note to Bellechimere’s question:

    If one were planning to marry someone who would have significant ($100k+) in student debt from a doctorate program, would it be wise to do as an above poster and keep debt/credit separate through a pre-nup? Would it result in a longer SSBI-PR adjudication, or (if the spouse is also employed and well-paid) would it not matter.

    I don’t even know if debt hops onto the other person’s credit report when you’re married so it may be a moot point and I’m thinking really long term here.

  40. Avatar

    My TS PR is in processing in the investigation stage, and while looking over my copy of the e-QIP records I am worried whether I made a mistake accidentally omitting relatives and associates. I focused on the list of relationships (mother-in-law etc.) and I did not list my wife’s two sisters who are foreign nationals. They did not come to mind because I rarely ever have contact with them. Now I’m reading the instructions again and it says “other relative.. include only foreign national relatives.. with whom you or your spouse are bound by affection..” I focused on myself, but now I realize this says “or your spouse.” My spouse is bound by affection to her sisters, not me, I hardly know them.

    Is this mistake enough that I should contact my FSO and ask about procedures for making a correction? Or would that just delay the PR uneccessarily if I try to make a correction at this point? I certainly did not intend to omit anything, I just didn’t notice “or your spouse” part of the phrase.

  41. Avatar

    I read in an article that DCID 6/4 is in the process of being updated and may be replaced. Mr. Henderson, do you happen to know anything about a new directive?

  42. Avatar


    I have found that intentionally lying on your SF86, can and most cases Will be a disqualifying factor. However, it may be mitiatged.

    (a) deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant facts from any personnel security questionnaire, personal history statement, or similar form used to conduct investigations, determine employment qualifications, award benefits or status, determine security clearance eligibility or trustworthiness, or award fiduciary responsibilities;

    (b) deliberately providing false or misleading information concerning relevant facts to an employer, investigator, security official, competent medical authority, or other official government representative.

    Mitigating Conditions

    (a) the individual made prompt, good-faith efforts to correct the omission, concealment, or falsification before being confronted with the facts;

    (b) the refusal or failure to cooperate, omission, or concealment was caused or significantly contributed to by improper or inadequate advice of authorized personnel or legal counsel advising or instructing the individual specifically concerning the security clearance process. Upon being made aware of the requirement to cooperate or provide the information, the individual cooperated fully and truthfully;

    (e) the individual has taken positive steps to reduce or eliminate vulnerability to exploitation, manipulation, or duress.

    I hope this helps?

  43. Avatar


    Yes, I would contact your FSO and submit a correction to your application. It could be questioned, as to why you did not list all your relatives as required. A good faith effort to correct the information will go a long way…

    I hope this helps?

  44. Avatar


    It depneds on the recency, if the infedelity is current, or recent, your partnet does not have knowedge and you do not want your partner to know… this could be viewed as questionable judgement, that could put you and the government at risk…

    Time and completed treatment from a professional counselor does help mitigate the incident(s).

    I hope this helps?

  45. Avatar

    Thanks for the answer Mr. Henderson, now I am even more nervous!! I stopped looking for a job after I got this offer.. It will suck if there are multiple people they gave tenative offers to and only one gets it..

    The guy I initially interviewed with for the job recently emailed me and asked if I had an idea of when I wanted to start, and said I could get interim clearnace until I find out about my clearance.. I dont know if he has seen my e-qip yet though, anyone think its a good sign he asked when I wanted to start? Or could I still be one of multiples with job offers??

  46. Avatar


    Good for you. As Mr Henderson put it, we as investigators do not judge people. I hope you understand I wasn’t pointing fingers at you. We have all made some mistakes in our lives and I am simply suggesting the truth is best. I’m sure you will do well at your job–and I hope if you need to be cleared all goes well for you as I’m sure it will.

  47. Avatar

    Valvox II

    I will tell you about 90% or more of the cases I work have mistakes or unintentional omissions. I would not sweat-it, just tell the Investigator you forgot some things on the questionnaire. I just did my PR a few months ago and forgot a few things and I have been doing these for a long time. The questionnaire is somewhat confusing to some. The info can be obtained during the interview as well. But hey, if you want to tell the FSO–that’s OK. Bets of luck.

  48. Avatar

    Thanks BW – I went ahead and sent an email to my FSO (before I got your response) to ask if an SF86 correction is needed. My guess is that the FSO would play it on the safe side most likely FSO will tell me to put in a correction. Now my worry is, I am going to cause the investigation (in progress, already interviewing my friends) to be delayed. What happens when a correction is submitted? Is the investigation started over again or is it handled gracefully continuing like normal?

  49. Avatar

    Total debt rarely becomes an issue unless there are delinquent accounts, judgments, garnishments, tax liens, etc. I don’t think you need to do anything special because of future security clearance considerations.

  50. Avatar

    Thanks for the response. I was under the impression that for my Husbands TS clearance there would be background / credit checks run on me. Is that so? Would that change any of your answers? There is nothing in my background check at all. Like I said, he has held secret for many years, but this is the first TS we have been through. Thanks for your time!

  51. Avatar

    As you may know the policy covered by DCID 6/4 is no longer under the purview of the DCI; it now comes under the DNI. DNI McConnell has been clamoring for some time about making it easier for first- and second-generation emigres to get SCI/SAP access eligibility, specifically for employment in the Intelligence Community where their special knowledge and language skills are desperately needed. This is part of the DNI’s 500-Day Plan. I haven’t read anything recently about other specific changes, but there are many things going on right now that may completely change the security clearance landscape. We may start to see the general shape of things to come by this summer.

  52. Avatar

    Thanks so much for having this resource available. Just got hired by a defense contractor so I now have to go through the process for TS. I have a misdemeanor public intoxication charge from city of New Orleans from Nov 2002 and a DUI charge from Jan 2004. Both cases were dismissed and both occurred while I was in the USMC. After the DUI, I was screened by the USMC for alcohol dependency and it was determined that I was not an alcoholic. I do not think I’m an alcoholic — I was just irresponsible. Since the DUI (which really woke me up), I have altered my lifestyle and have no alcohol-related incidents. I still drink, but am responsible about it. Since then, I’ve left the Marine Corps, got an engineering degree, and done pretty well.

    My concern is that I didn’t go through an alcohol program b/c the USMC said I wasn’t an alcoholic. Also, I retained a lawyer in both cases and got the charges dismissed.

    I don’t have much else on my SF86. Good finances, a single trip to Belgium in 2007, a speeding ticket. The alcohol things really have me stressed out, though. Any help would be highly appreciated. Thanks so much.

  53. Avatar

    I just realized you answered my previous question in the other forum. I apologize for asking a second time, but the misdemeanor PI charge wasn’t on that post b/c I didn’t think a misdemeanor had to be reported until I actually started filling out the SF86 yesterday. Really, you can just tell me if that PI charge completely negates the “you should have no problem.”

    Also, thanks for letting me know that a DUI is sometimes not a felony. I’ll change that on my SF86 before submitting it. (Well, I’ll call my attorney first and make sure, but judging from the Internet, you’re correct).

  54. Avatar

    I’m not an expert on how different federal agencies make their employment selection decisions when clearance investigations are involved. I’m am only repeating what others on this blog have mentioned about their own experiences.

    At DODIG there are two separate offices involved—the security office and the personnel office. The security officer will validate and forward your clearance application to OPM and also has the authority to grant you an interim clearance. If you are granted an interim clearance, the security officer will tell the personnel officer and the personnel officer then has a green light to bring you onboard. So if they grant you an interim clearance, make yourself available as soon as possible. They can grant you an interim secret clearance in a matter of hours after your eQIP is submitted.

  55. Avatar

    Valvox II:
    Although this is in response to your post; it’s really for everyone who has inadvertently failed to list something of relevance on their SF86. If you’re the subject of an SSBI or SSBI-PR, inadvertently failing to list something that you should have listed is not a big problem and generally will not raise any falsification issues as long as you correct this error during your Personal Subject Interview (PRSI). Unfortunately that is and always has been one of the main purposes of the PRSI. In almost every PRSI, I typically spent about 1/3 of the time required for interview, correcting inaccurate data and obtaining data that was omitted from the SF86. These inaccuracies and omissions often add weeks and sometimes months to the investigative process, but rarely result in any serious consequences during the adjudication phase.

  56. Avatar

    Thanks for providing this website for clearance questions; there seems to be no other source to turn to for answers. I apologize for this being lengthy but I desperately need some advice.

    First my history: My husband resigned in Jan 2001 to pursue his own business, however due to a family illness, he was unable to succeed. Soon we hit financial rock bottom. Several accounts (credit card, department store, etc.) were turned over to collection agencies. We had one credit card account file an Agreed Judgment on which we are still paying the agreed upon monthly payments. My husband soon began working again but at a nominal salary. Through a tight budget, we began making payments on all our delinquent accounts, determined to eventually pay them off without filing for bankruptcy. Unfortunately for me, in 2004 it was time to prepare an updated SF86. I listed all the outstanding debts, etc. A “new” investigator came and met with me at work and took my statement regarding our financial situation. Soon my personnel security clearance was revoked for financial considerations. I did appeal because I felt the information was totally misleading and inaccurate but did not win and then appeared at a hearing with a judge in November 2005 who assured me at the hearing that I didn’t have anything to worry about but when he wrote his decision in January 2006 ruled against me. The final decision on the revocation is dated June 2006. My final revocation states that my activity could “at some future date” recommend me for a security clearance and then the DON CAF would re-adjudicate my case. Since all positions at my activity were considered “sensitive”, I was given the choice to resign. The most ironic thing is that at this time almost all the “delinquent” accounts were paid in full with the few remaining ones close to being paid in full. Seven years have now past on almost all these accounts and they have been dropped from my credit report.

    I desperately need to regain employment with the government. Recently I was tentatively selected for a position that required a security clearance, but according to the HRO, when my SSN was input into “the system” by their SO, it revealed that I had had a security clearance revoked and therefore could not be granted an interim clearance, so the position was cancelled and will be re-announced.

    I have just applied for another government job that is a public trust position that requires a background investigation. Is there any likelihood that I can get this position? Is there any action I can take on my part to make it easier – I do plan on revealing my security clearance status if offered the position. Is there anything I can do to have my case re-adjudicated so I could be granted a security clearance? Help! Any advice will be appreciated.

  57. Avatar


    Your accidental omissions should not hamper the investigator. He/she should be able to proceed with no problem. You submitted corrections, so no big deal. The fact that you have foreign national relatives is important to list, but as I said, it can be fixed with minimal pain to you. Trust me, the fact that you left one thing out is fine. I can tell you, if it were my case to run–nothing that minor would slow it down. Don’t let this simple mistake cause you to lose any sleep–you’ll be just fine. I would however, get as much info as you can on the relatives to supply to your investigator. The better prepared for your interview that you are, the faster it can completed.

  58. Avatar


    I currently have a TS in process for an IC job, but can’t start there until it is complete. In the meantime I accepted a job with a consulting company that does work for Homeland Security, and I’ll need a secret. Will getting the secret with the TS already in progress be at all problematic? Will my new company need to know/find out that I already have the TS in progress?


  59. Avatar


    I agree with the investigators, I am providing information as a past adjudicator. Where ALL issues must reviewed, disqualifed and mitigated when possible.

    Adjudicators do understand people make unintentional errors on thier documentaion. Some can be mitigated easily, without help or further clarification. Some are not mitigated so easily, or have compounding factors that make the falsification questionable.

    Mitigate unintentional errors or accidental omissions proir to being questioned about them… This goes along way…

    It will take less time to adjudicate your case with all the information, rather than returning the case to an Investigator again, or you responding to a Interrogatory directly.

    I hope this helps?

  60. Avatar

    Wanted to ask the regular contributors here their thoughts on first generation immigrants who are now US citizens and getting cleared.

    What issues come up for these folks? Does the fact that a US citizen who was born in the Middle East or China immediately mean more investigative work? I’m assuming there are inherent complications since someone who fits this picture is likely to have ties to their birth country.

    The government wants to speed investigations to get more linguists hired, but it seems like this is almost impossible for foreign-born US citizens.

    Thanks for your input.

  61. Avatar

    Thanks for the response. I was under the impression that for my Husbands TS clearance there would be background / credit checks run on me. Is that so? Would that change any of your answers? There is nothing in my background check at all. Like I said, he has held secret for many years, but this is the first TS we have been through. Thanks for your time!

  62. Avatar

    I had a secret and was asked to get an SSBI by my employer (I am a contractor), I filled out the questionaire and talked to the OPM investigator(in a cafeteria no less, surrounded by others), the OPM investigator talked to my references and pulled all relevant files.

    I received a letter asking about an unpaid Repo on my credit file, I supplied information about my paying the obligation off, but it was past the 20 days and they (DOHA) suspended my secret, I was told by the person that signed the letter(someone in DOHA) to provide a reason for missing the 20 days, I promptly complied and received another letter 2 weeks later about circumstances regarding my termination (only one) form a company 6-7 yrs ago.

    I stated on my forms and to the investigator that the reason for my firing was “financial restructuring” which was true but not the entire truth. The second letter said I was fired because of viewing pornography at work. I may have clicked an inappropriate link or two, but actively surfing porn at work, did not happen. so I get the letter and I am crushed, I send a one page acceptance and I say that I was ashamed and such, but still layout the reasons I was fired to the best of my knowledge.

    I am flabbergasted, I make a mistake almost seven years ago and I fessed up to it and still get denied. I received a letter a few days ago saying I did not offer concise details / compelling reasons to reopen my case. So are they denying me based on not getting the first batch of information to them or is it the firing? The letter does not state what the reason for denial is, it just says I will be able to apply again in Feb 2009. Is this a major biggie? I just don’t understand. I am now trying to get an appeal going but do not hold out much hope. Any advice would be very helpful.

  63. Avatar

    I am currently finishing the SP86 form for a job I have been offered and a few questions/responses are worrying me. As understand it, I need to submit my SP86 first to obtain an interim clearance and later my permanent clearance.

    First, I have some minor drug use over the past seven years. I have smoked pot on four occasions – one time in each of 2002, 2004, 2005 and, more worryingly, December 2007. Does this recent usage significantly harm my chance?

    Also, I have traveled extensively over the last 10 years, including to numerous countries in the Middle East and Africa. I have also worked in the Middle East and Africa. In fact, as a private sector attorney I have also represented a Middle Eastern government. How problematic might this be?

    Finally, my wife is a British citizen, and as such is filling out her own set of forms. She is currently working for an NGO and is based overseas. She has traveled even more extensively than me (mostly in Africa) and has used drugs more frequently than me (although only on about 5 occasions since we met in late-2004). How much of an impact will my wife’s travel and drug use have on my application.

    I should note that I’m otherwise absolutely clear – no finacial issues at all, no criminal record or prior charges at all, etc. Thanks for the help!

  64. Avatar

    The 2002 PI charge complicates your case little, but because it is a less serious offense than the DUI and happened before the DUI, you should be able to mitigate it due to passage of time, increased maturity, and your change in drinking habits. Much will depend on other positive aspects of your life and what other people will say about your current use of alcohol and your reliability/responsibility.

  65. Avatar

    Because you were a civilian DON employee, the DOHA Administrative Judge who heard your appeal only had the authority to make a recommendation to the Navy Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB). It should have been the Navy PSAB who made the final decision on your appeal.

    Usually when people develop financial problems due to reasons largely beyond their control and subsequently make consistent good-faith efforts to repay the debts, adjudicators tend to rule in their favor. However when the delinquencies occurred recently and have not been fully satisfied and when there is any question about the applicant’s financial ability to follow through on his/her efforts to fully satisfy the debts, then it becomes difficult for the adjudicator to grant or continue a clearance.

    Passage of time plus correcting the prior issue are the greatest mitigators of almost all security/suitability issues. Now that you have fully satisfied all your prior delinquent debts and have a current track record of solvency, your chances of getting a security or public trust clearance are greatly improved. It will be very difficult for you to get an interim clearance, but if a government agency is willing to keep a job offer open to you until a new investigation is fully completed and adjudicated, you have a reasonable chance of getting the clearance. You will have to convince the adjudicator that the likelihood of future financial problems is negligible.

  66. Avatar

    Anytime investigative work must be completed outside the U.S. it adds a significant amount of time to an investigation. But this also applies to native-born US citizens who have resided abroad during the time frame covered by the investigation. The extra time need to do the investigation is primarily because of limited investigative resources outside the U.S. I read somewhere that of the espionage cases during the past couple of decades about 40% involved cleared U.S. citizens with significant foreign connections. I would have to guess that the overall percentage of cleared individuals with significant foreign connections is much small than 40% and therefore statistically they represent a greater potential risk than people who don’t have any foreign connections. The government has a legitimate concern and a real dilemma. No one wants to be the adjudicator who granted a clearance to someone who is later convicted of espionage. As I’ve said before this is an matter of risk management vs. risk avoidance.

  67. Avatar

    With respect to “harder” drugs, would the prior use of cocaine (2 times only in last seven, both in July 2003) be regarded as particular problematic for an SF86 if, on balance the rest of one’s application is spottless?

  68. Avatar

    I just found out that it is an SCI clearance that my husband has applied for. Does this change any of your answers? Is the TS or the SCI higher? Sorry for all of the questions. Thanks

  69. Avatar

    I have been preliminarily accepted for a position that requires a security clearance. I’m a little worried that I’m not going to be able to obtain this clearance.

    In 2001 I was arrested for DUI. I was not convicted, charges were reduced to traffic violations, but had to serve 1 year probation, do community service & the like.

    In 2005 I was arrested for DUI again. I was not convicted, again charges were reduced to traffic violations. No probation this time.

    My credit rating’s OK; I pay all my bills on time. I do have one key deliquency on my credit report that was caused because a medical company reported me to a collection agency – the medical company did not properly submit the bill to my insurance provider. This was resolved in less than 30 days.

    Oh yes, and another thing. The company I worked for while I was in college went under a few years ago; the company no longer exists. I have to include this job on the SF86.

    Should I include copies of the W2s from this company w/the SF86?

    Do you think I’ve even got a chance of obtaining a clearance?


  70. Avatar


    “(e) the individual has taken positive steps to reduce or eliminate vulnerability to exploitation, manipulation, or duress.”

    Would you please elaborate upon “positive step?” Thanks

  71. Avatar

    I requested a status on my Q clearance that I’ve been waiting on for about 15 months. I received the following reply:

    “We have received the complete reports, they have been screened and are in for further adjudication as of April”

    Can anybody shed some light on what this should mean to me? I found an article outlining the Department of Energy’s adjudication process and screen in the first process and then analysis, etc… Should I be worried?

  72. Avatar

    I have just been offered a promotion that requires an SCI clearance. I have held a secret for 15 years. My credit and background are clean, but my husband has some credit card debt (about 12,000$) and a prior bankruptcy (before we were married). He has acquired the credit card debt since we have been married. What background checks will he have to go through? Also, I am divorced and have no idea where my ex-husband is. Should I put his “last known address” on the clearance paperwork? Thanks!

  73. Avatar

    On a the SF86 should you report a felony that your received 22 years ago that was droped to a misdemanor

  74. Avatar

    Thanks for your help! I just found out I got interim clearance, whats the next step? Since I got interim even though I admitted to trying drugs, will/can the drugs be an issue getting normal clearance? If you get interim clearance, what can stop you from getting the full clearance?

  75. Avatar

    In Regards to prior drug use, the Government is pretty forgiving, as long as you fully disclose it, as long as you haven’t done any illegal drugs in the last year and are able to proclaim that you will refrain from illegal drug use in the future, and as long as you are removed from the environment and culture in which you were using drugs.

    I admitted to prior recreational use of marijuana and cocaine and was granted DoD TS clearance. A year later when being investigated for SCI, I admitted to near habitual use of marijuana for some time, use of cocaine, LSD, mushrooms, exstacy, hash, opium, mescaline, prescription drugs, and nitrous oxide, oh and dealing small amounts of marijuana. In the interview, they got me to say that I had used marijuana 10000 times. The Government denied me SCI and suspended my TS, for lying about it (Personal Conduct) and for my failure to remove myself from an environment where people were using drugs. One year later, after removing myself from said environment, fully disclosing everything on my SF-86, and passing a “specific issues polygraph”, they granted me SCI and gave me back the DoD TS.

    Everybody makes mistakes, and the government knows that. You disclose your history and get past it, as somebody who used drugs in their past, or you lie about it and are from now till the end of your days a liar.

    If you used drugs in college or in high school or even after college as an adult, but have since stopped, I would advise you, as someone who has been through the brutal process of having your clearance denied/suspended , to tell the entire truth and let the cards fall where they may.

  76. Avatar

    Can anybody tell me what the Difference between “ISA/TS” clearance and TS/SCI/CI-Poly is?

  77. Avatar

    The investigation (SSBI) required for TS with or without SCI is the same. In an SSBI there is a requirement for a NAC on the spouse or cohabitant. An NAC does not involve a credit check.

  78. Avatar

    Congratulations. I must admit that I am amazed that you received an interim clearance with such recent drug use, foreign national spouse, and extensive foreign connectons. Because you got the interim clearance so quickly it must have been an interim secret. If the investigation is done properly, you will be interview and asked about everything you mentioned in your earlier post. I assume you were completely honest on your SF86 and disclosed all relevent information about your past foreign contacts and your spouse’s employment. So, the only things that could trip you up are the things not cover in the SF86 that are adjudicatively significant: 1) s e x ual misconduct, misuse of technology, and security violations.

    Can you tell us which agency granted your interim clearance?

  79. Avatar

    It means that your investigation is completed, screened for completenes, and now in the hands of the adjudicator for a decision. Whatever happened during your Personal Subject Interview (PRSI) should give you a pretty idea of how simple or complicated tha adjudication process will be. If your PRSI was quick and easy, then the adjudication of your case should be quick and easy.

  80. Avatar

    Using cocaine twice, 4 or 5 years ago with no aggravating circumstances or other unfavorable information, should not result in a clearance denial.

  81. Avatar

    Jessia B:
    No, you don’t have to include W2 forms with your SF86. The out-of-business company can be verified collaterally through other records or references. On the SF86 in the comment section for this job give the name and contact info for someone who knew that you worked there during the time period.

    The paid delinquent account is not a big deal even though it went to a collection agency. Your explanation for why it happened is credible.

    The 2 DUIs are your only significant problem. I would have been great if you would have received some professional counseling at the time. At this point much will depend on your current drinking habits and what others say about your drinking.

    Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an interim clearance. Most of the people who are not granted an interim clearance are eventually granted a final clearance, if the investigation is not cancelled by the requestor.

  82. Avatar


    I may shortly be trying to obtain interim clearance for a Secret clearance with the army. I have no legal issues, no financial issues, no foreign nationals in my family, but have mental health issues. I was diagnosed with major depression on several occasions between 1997-2005, voluntarily attended partial hospitalization twice in 2005, was diagnosed with and treated for bipolar, and have been stable since 2006. I have always been medication compliant, never been a danger to anyone else, never had judgment issues, and am unaware of any aspects of my illness that could or could have ever affected national security in any way, even at my worst.

    I have seen a variety of counselors and psychiatrists, largely due to changes in geographic locations and in insurance coverage. I have seen my current psychiatrist since 2005.

    If/when I turn in an SF-86 for an interim clearance, will they contact my current providers and will their judgment be considered, or will I be denied an interim clearance on the grounds that I have seen (a lot of) mental health providers?

    If denial of an interim clearance is not automatic just for that, will I be denied if I cannot find the names of some of my providers? I do know where I saw each of them.

  83. Avatar

    William – thank you for your advise.

    I did not receive professional counceling at the time; I did attend DUI risk reduction programs on both occasions. Does the fact that I wasn’t convicted on either occasion help at all? I know the SF86 asks the question for a reason, but the courts saw fit to not convict me DUI.

    I was very young at the time of my first arrest – 18. I’m sure this is a mitigating factor?

  84. Avatar

    Jessica B:
    Attending and successfully completing any alcohol education program is a plus. As I have said before, good adjudicators should concern themselves more with conduct than outcomes. If the underlying circumstances of the offense caused the court to reduce the charge, then it matters. If you had a good lawyer and the public prosecutor cut a deal so that taxpayer money would not be wasted on a trial, it won’t matter.

    Although there may be different mitigating factors for each offense; you should also be thinking of the two DUIs as a single problem. You will have to convince the adjudicator that you have changed and that it is very unlikely that this type of behavior will happen in the future. It’s difficult to use “passage of time” and subsequent maturity to mitigate an offense when you repeat the offense 4 years later.

  85. Avatar

    William – thanks again.

    I’ll keep your advise in mind when completing the SF86.

  86. Avatar

    Adjudicators are limited in what they can consider when granting or not granting an interim clearance. Adjudication for a final clearance is significantly different, because the adjudicator has a completed investigation to use as the basis of his/her decision. Interim Secret clearances are granted after a review of the SF86 for potentially disqualifying conditions. If some unfavorable information appears on the SF86 that is not obviously mitigated by time or some other factor, the interim clearance is not granted and the adjudicator must wait for the completed investigation to determine if sufficient mitigation exist to grant the final clearance.

    For mental health counseling/treatment the adjudicator needs to see that in the opinion of competent medical authority (your doctor) your condition or treatment does not adversely affect your judgement. This is done by an investigator obtaining a medical release from you and interviewing the doctor. You can try to influence the interim clearance by getting a letter from your current doctor that explains your condition, treatment, prognosis, dates and frequency of treatment and effects on judgement and behavior. Submit this letter to the office that will process your clearance. Give your doctor permission to discuss your case with government security officials.

    Just do the best you can to obtain names and contact information for the doctors you have seen during the past 7 years. The records of your most recent doctors may also contain this information.

  87. Avatar


    Thanks, but I think there are two “Nervous”s running around on this blog (I’m the one with the foreign spouse, foreign work/living experience and relatively recent pot usage). I am still in the process of submitting my 86 and have not been granted any interim clearance yet. I assume from your answer though that you would be surprised if interim clearance is granted in my case. Are the circumstances I described fatal to obtaining final clearance? My understanding is that my position requires TS clearance. Which is more problematic, the foreign contacts/connections (which should all be fine once explained) or what I have always thought of as very infrequent pot use (albeit recent)?

    I’m especially concerned because I believe the job I have been offered conditions delivery of a “final” offer letter on obtaining interim security clearance. I can’t give notice to my current employer until I receive such a “final” offer letter, but timing is becoming a big problem.

    Thanks again for any help.

    – Nervous II

  88. Avatar

    Mr. Henderson,

    The SF-85P specifies that, with the exception of a security clearance suspension or revocation, applicants’ reponses are limited to a 7-year lookback. Does a Federal Agency have discretion to expand this lookback period during the personal interview? I was subjected to a battery of questions during the personal interview phase of my background investigation, which had no time restricitons. (e.g. Have you EVER been arrested?; Have you EVER been placed on probation?; Have you EVER had family, financial, health, or job-related problems due to your use of intoxicants?).

  89. Avatar

    The SF-85P specifies time limits with regard to each question it poses. Is the Agency permitted by law, regulation, directive or ANYTHING to dramatically expand the SF-85P’s time limits by compelling the applicant to answer “EVER” questions during the personal interview? (e.g., Have you EVER been arrested?; Were you EVER placed on probation, assigned community service, placed under a deferred sentence, or sentenced to days in jail which were suspended, as a result of your violation of the law?; Have you EVER had family, financial, health, or job-related problems due to your use of intoxicants?). If an applicant is confronted with such “ever” questions, what is the best way to respond?


  90. Avatar


    Allegedly had an active Secret clearance with a govt. contractor. Offered a job with another contractor, found out, when I accepted, that I do NOT have a current secret.

    I had A credit, however I was forced to declare bankruptcy in December when my house and and rentals did not sell. I don’t have a current secret, am asked to fill out sf86, for an interim. Have no problem doing that. Afraid I won’t be granted an interim because of the Chapter 13.

    Any advice? Will I be granted an interim? Will I be granted a Secret with investigation? I am supposed to be leaving for Iraq on Saturday May 3

  91. Avatar

    Nervous (age 22):
    It should be fair smooth sailing for you from this point as far as the security clearance is concerned. You may or may not be interviewed about the past drug use, but you shouldn’t have any problem with the interview. The final Secret clearance could be issued in 3 to 6 months, if you are hired for the position.

  92. Avatar

    Thanks Mr. Henderson- I saw that things got confusing with two “Nervous” but the other nervous straightened it all up! I got to pick my start date on Friday and will start work with the DOD OIG in June (I need to graduate first).. Thanks for your help!

  93. Avatar

    Nervous II:
    On 30 Mar 08 at 11:18pm I posted detailed information about past drug use at the “Ask Your Clearance Questions: Part 5” thread. This should answer part of your question. You past foreign connections are of equal concern. In order to overcome the foreign influence/outside activities concern, it will probably be necessary to provide detailed information about your past foreign business dealings. Unfortunately it is very difficult to provide such detailed information before an interim clearance decision is made. I recommend you review the Adjudicative Guidelines, particularly the ones concerning: drug use, criminal conduct, foreign influence, and outside activities.

  94. Avatar

    I am wondering about other government agencies sharing information about who holds a clearance. For example a couple years ago I heard about a congressional effort to make it easier for clearance holders to pass through airport security. That makes sense because if we are trusted with national secrets then we should be trusted that we are not a threat on airplanes. Facility security officers can look up clearance info easily on JPAS. But my guess is that government IT systems are not as well connected. It could be useful though.

  95. Avatar


    The PSI took about 2 hours. Is that quick and easy? Also is it safe to say since I’ve made it this far with no stops in the process that I’ll be granted the clearance?

  96. Avatar

    MikeCheck1212 –

    For comparison my PSI took about 40 minutes. That’s with no SF-86 errors and no derogatory information. I imagine it varies investigator to investigator, and Q PSI might be different than TS?

  97. Avatar

    Cool. I should be good to go then.

  98. Avatar

    Mike2 & MikeCheck1212:
    First some acronyms. PSI stands for Personnel Security Investigation. PRSI stands for Personal Subject Interview, which is an OPM acronym. OPM also uses the acronym SPIN for Special Interview. Some other agencies use “SI” for both types of Subject Interviews.

    40 minutes is pretty fast unless the case involves an 18-year-old with a perfectly clean SF86, no foreign travel, one residence, one school, and one job. During my career I probably did about 5,000 SIs. For me a 2 hour PRSI would include having to make a few SF86 corrections and deal with a couple of issues. Someone with less experience (but trying to do a thorough job) might take 2 hours for a clean SF86 containing an moderate number of residences, schools, jobs, and foreign trips.

  99. Avatar

    Here’s my dealio:
    I spent 6 years in the army and held a TS and SCI. I got out of the army and got a contracting job with the army, still work in sci atmosphere. I had my periodic review in January 2007 in which I fully disclosed on my sf-86 and in my interview that I was planning on getting married to my girlfriend, a dual Russian/German citizen. She’s in the sf-86, like I said, and her parents are too. My periodic review went smoothly and my TS/SCI was extended. I still work in a classified environment.
    Anyways, we got married and I reported it. Here at my contracting job everything is cool. Here’s the question: I have been hired by the FBI as an intelligence analyst/gov’t position. Even though I currently hold a TS and SCI and work in a SCIF, are they going to have a major problem with my foreign wife? She has a green card, but has not live here long enough to apply for citizenship. Keep in mind that she’s already on my last PR….
    What do you think??


  100. Avatar


    I’ll be sure to give a status on the final determination. I really admire the positive vibe you give to folks when going through the clearance process as it can be very stressful. I say, … don’t worry too much about it. Life goes on, and so should you! :O)

  101. Avatar


    Sorry, for the delay in responding…
    This could/is part of “the whole person” concept, normally something like:
    The individual has made positive steps toward correcting/confronting the issue, providing full, frank and truthful answers to lawful questions. thus Eliminating vulnerability to exploitation, manipulation, or duress.”

    I hope this helps?

  102. Avatar

    amylynn B

    I would tell them all you know, you can’t tell them what you don’t know… Better to much information than too little…

    I hope this helps?

  103. Avatar


    I would, yes… If you don’t, it could look like you were trying to hide something.

    I hope this helps?

  104. Avatar

    Mike2 & MikeCheck1212:

    Generally, I have seen interview times lasting 1 to 2 hours for normal cases or investigations. Some other interview times were much longer and very few shorter.

    I hope this helps?

  105. Avatar

    Jessica B:

    You must look and apply all mitigating factors for the guidelines Criminal Conduct, Personal Conduct and Alcohol Consumption.

    It does not look like a real big problem… It will take more time to adjudicate and you will have to convince the adjudicator that you have changed, learned your lesson etc,. Be ready to show how you plan to not let it happen again, attend meetings, dont drink, drink less, never drink and drive…

    It’s difficult to use “passage of time” and subsequent maturity to mitigate an offense when you repeat the offense 4 years later but, it is easier to use when you have shown some effort towards the mitigating factors.

    I hope this helps?

  106. Avatar

    Thanks edge! It is very helpful.

    I have completely changed my lifestyle since the arrest in ’05. I also called my attorney & found out the first incident was actually in ’99, so I don’t know if that helps or hurts my case.

    I’ve been completely honest on the SF86, so we’ll see what happens.

    How long does it usually take to find out the outcome for secret level clearance – 1-3 months?

  107. Avatar

    Edge and Mr. Henderson:

    I’m surprised under 1 hour is considered so fast. I thought it was pretty thorough, there just wasn’t anything to talk about because the SF-86 was perfectly clean and I’m so young. Also oops! yes it was a PRSI not a PSI.

    As a side note, you stated that former supervisors *must* be interviewed for a TS. Do summer internships count as jobs requiring interviews if you’re a full-time student during the school year? I listed them.

  108. Avatar

    I’d love to hear the investigator’s viewpoint on touristy travel and how cleared individuals should think of this as far as affecting their clearance. About once every 1 or 2 years I go to a different destination across the border, just like most other Americans I like to travel sometimes. I soak in curiosity of cultures I have never seen before, take all the touristy photos, etc. These are all friendly or NATO countries. But every time I am in the passport line I’m always thinking “ is another one to add to my SF86 during renewal that is going to add to the investigation time.” And then I get a little concerned whether it could affect future SCI eligibility. How should we think of International travel as a tourist? I guess it shouldn’t affect the collateral clearance but I wonder if it ends up delaying processing or if there is a magic number of trips that makes a candidate too risky for SCI. I’m talking about separate places from where foreign relatives live, i.e. going to places where one doesn’t know anyone at all, spending a week or two exploring the sights.

  109. Avatar

    Jessica B:

    Yes, most likely… Any time between the incidents helps. You would now, just have the two incidents. The adjudication should not take long.

    I hope this helps?

  110. Avatar


    You should be fine… just keep an up to date records of your travel and make sure list them…

    I hope this helps?

  111. Avatar


    It’s just works out to being whatever time that it takes… after the investigator, greets you, goes over some of the issues, signed statements, signed releases, chats a little to feel you out and determine if you might have something of importants to add… And, then there are those “few” that only takes a short period of time..

    Glad to see yours was one!

    I hope this helps?

  112. Avatar


    Your spouse, was listed on your sf86 as a friend or spouse? Sounds to me that it would be up to the adjudicator, and it could put a monkey wrench into your eligibility.??? current and future…….

    I hope this helps?

  113. Avatar

    Most of us see it as taking a lot of time during the PRSI and producing no information of adjudicative significance; although some of us know that it does serve a useful purpose not related to the current PSI. There is no Adjudicative Guideline for foreign travel–for collateral or SCI clearances–but certain conduct that occurs in a foreign country falls under other Adjudicative Guidelines. Perhaps 1 in 300 interviews results in someone telling me they got into trouble in a foreign country. Usually the only time this line of questioning produces any adjudicatively significant information is when the Subject made a foreign friend while traveling and maintained contact by telephone or correspondence.

  114. Avatar


    You should be fine… The government does not always look down on actions such as bankruptcy’s (they feel you have noticed your short commings and have attempted to correct them. (treatment if you will)

    Just make sure you keep up with, or have kept up with your scheduled payments as agreed.

    I hope this helps?

  115. Avatar


    It appears to me, that you have defaulted on an interrogatory. (You were late sending back the document as required) (Not good)

    It also appears to me, that you were not totally truthful, frank and candor concerning the questions asked. (Not good)

    Generally, when a case is defaulted by DOHA, You must request in writing, to the Chief of Personnel Security Division to be reopened. These cases are reopened, when you can show just cause why the default was not your fault (lost in the mail, or a legitimate reason, etc…)

    You may have made a mistake 6 or 7 years ago, and most likely are still living the mistake because you still have not been truthful about the incident…

    The personal conduct was probably just another nail in the coffin…

    I would make sure to list and/or correct any and all of these short comings on future security questionnaires. To include listing the recent Default/ Denial/ Revocation.

    Default determinations are not eligible for appeal… ((note: any security clearance eligibility that you DID have (secret) is gone also!!!))

    You are not eligible to request/apply for, or hold a DoD security clearance for one year.

    I hope this helps?

  116. Avatar

    Thank you for your reply to my previous posting about the infidelity issues. It was a couple of times that it took place a few days apart, and these incidents happened abouot four years ago. My partner and I were going through a difficult time when it took place. I accepted responsibility for my mistakes, I confessed the infidelity to my partner (not right away, but many months later when we began to discuss our problems) and some friends and relatives, and then also took the initiative and went to marriage counseling at that time to work on these issues, and have followed guidance from the counseling. I regret it very very much and would be sure never to do something stupid like that again in the future under any circumstances. I am hopeful this will not be a really big problem with my next reinvestigation, when it comes up as I assume it will, but a little bit nervous, since I know it was a really really big mistake on my part. Thank you again for your advice.

  117. Avatar

    Thanks for the advice. Here’s the follow up stuff you asked about:
    She was listed as a close/continuing contact and I added in the notes that she was my fiance and we were planning to get married in Feb. 07. I still was re-granted my clearance, though. I’ve read that when a person is already read-on to SCI that getting a waiver for foreign spouse is not as much of a big deal. Is there any truth to that in your experience? Are there people with non-citizen wives (outside of the military) who have SCI access?

  118. Avatar

    One hour is sufficient time to do a thorough PRSI on an uncomplicated case on a young person. 40 minutes is barely enough time. It usually took me at least 10 minutes to get through the introductions, explain the privacy act, explain the PRSI, explain the rest of the investigation, and emphasize the need for honesty and candor.

    For SSBIs, employment interviews must be done at all places of employment for 6 months or more, during the past 7 years. One supervisor and one coworker is preferred, but any two work associates is acceptable.

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    If an applicant’s current SCI eligibility is based upon a waiver, the gaining federal agency can require a new investigation. For SCI eligibility, waivers are required when the Subject has a non-US citizen spouse, cohabitant or immediate family member. So your SCI eligibility may not be transferrable to the FBI. It’s up to them to grant or deny SCI eligibility with or without a new investigation.

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    I have worked with the DOD for the last 4.5 years my clearance has been on hold since 2006 because I told the investigator that I had been charged with a DUI (which I am fighting because i wasn’t driving was actually sitting in a bar where i was dropped off by a friend) the case was dropped because the prosecution had no case I wasn’t driving. I then received an email from security for info on what happened with my case I told them it was dropped and felt relieved…A week later the case was brought back up starting all over (didn’t even know they could do that) so without hesitation I let security know that my case was back on the books my new court date is may 12. if i win i am sure that i will get it but since it is going to jury trial there is always a chance…if i get the dui does that mean no matter what I will lose not get my clearance and ultimately lose my job? I read some posts where William said that if lots of time has went by then they may forgive??? sorry so long

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    Thanks guys. Sounds like I might be on thin ice…have faith, be positive!

  122. Avatar

    No. A recent conviction for DUI doesn’t necessarily result in a clearance denial/revocation. DUI is a potentially disqualifying condition. But it can be mitigated when:

    “so much time has past, the behavior was so infrequent, or it happened under such unusual circumstances that it is unlikely to recur or does not cast doubt on the individual’s current reliability, trustworthiness, or good judgment.”

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    If this is the only alcohol related incident that you have had? You should be fine.

    It sounds like this is being treated as a recent DUI/ Alcohol incident. Because the incident happened in 2006, and you are now to appear in court. The incident will be reviewed when it is completed.

    It may help you to review the mitigating guidelines for: Alcohol, Criminal and Personal Conduct. Just to be safe, and maybe give you a jump on what is needed to mitigate the incident easily…???

    I hope this helps?

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    It sounds like you have confronted and corrected the issue, When you accepted responsibility for your mistakes, and confessed the infidelity to your partner (when is not a big factor, as long as you did). Thus, “(e) the individual has taken positive steps to reduce or eliminate vulnerability to exploitation, manipulation, or duress.” would or could be used as a mitigating factor.

    I hope this helps?

  125. Avatar

    Bw an investigator

    I have been waiting for a qclearance for over a year i recently recieved a letter saying the doe is concerned with granting access to classafied material. I willingly admitted to trying a drug one time 5 years ago just before getting out of the military, it was a one time thing and will never happen again. I have no criminal record or any serious driving offenses other than 3 tickets. I am 27 years old and really want this job my wife is furiouse about this hole thing, she believes since i was honest and have never been in any trouble that it should be mitigated. I have to go to a hearing soon, what advice would you give me to prove to them that i am not suceptible to duress or anything not in the best interest of national security?. Have you ever been in volved with this type of processes?, They also sent me a binder with all the info on my case, and everybody that was interviewed syaed nothing but good things. The incident was a isolated and I deeply regret it, I would appreciate any info you can give me thank oyu for youre time .


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    I recently applied for a job with the FBI and the position requires a TS clearance. I’m under the age of 21, how will investigators perceive underage drinking that has occurred semi-regularly over the last several years?
    I’ve never even experimented with any kind of drug, been arrested, or even gotten a parking ticket.

  127. Avatar


    I will say, I am in now way an expert when it comes to adjudication, but have to ask. Did the drug use have any effect on your military service? Did you ever test positive for drug use while active duty? Tough questions, but also keep in mind the use was five years ago–passage of time and mitigating circumstances will come into play. First, good on you for being truthful. Remain truthful and tell the panel the same things you just told all of us. Your complete cander will play a big role. There are no hidden secrets to your success, but complete honesty. Tell them how you feel and be sincere. Yes or no answers tell folks nothing. I wish you the best of luck and let us know how it goes and thanks for your service.

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    As a past adjudicator, I agree with BW and I have the same questions along with:

    With the binder that you had received; was there anything stating exactly why doe is concerned with granting access eligibility to you of classified material?

    If so, I would go over the complete binder (line-by-line) along with the adjudicative guidelines in the attempt to mitigate their concerns…

    You may also wish to contact someone for legal advice and/or representation in this matter.

    I hope this helps?

  129. Avatar

    Thanks Edge 141 and bw investigator for youre response.
    I tried the drug days before getting out of the military and no it had no effect on me. I have never tested positive either. Edge141 they sent me a letter saying their concerned becouse when i tried it, i had a clearance. I was not sure if i had one and i told that to the investigator when i did my psi, i remember checking with my s-2 office before getting out and asking to get a copy of my clearance and they could not find anything on me that’s why i wasn’t sure if i had a clearance. I read the adjudicative guidelines and they all seem to be in my favor so why are they still concerned?. It’s not like i’m going to sell secrets or anything like that. This job is for the DOE,and i understand the all risks, also my wife is going to speak on my behalf and she is furious with whats going on. This has been more stressful than when i served in iraq. I appreciate all input you guys have thanks.

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    I posted a few days ago and haven’t gotten a response yet. If anyone out there has experienced this type of PSI for Sf-85P, any thoughts? I found the DD-398 and DD-398-2 with “ever” questions but they were cancelled and replaced with the SF-86 (10 year). Mine was SF-85P, (7 years).

  131. Avatar

    William, thanks for the very interesting response about the effect of International travel. I feel better now knowing that tourist travel doesn’t put my clearance at risk, as long as I use common sense and don’t establish foreign relationships or ongoing contact. What about contact with a US citizen who is a dual citizen retired in a foreign country? For the purpose of foreign influence is that person considered a foreign national?

    Here is an example how a clearance can affect choices we make. A few years ago a former elementary school classmate, who later moved to China found my name on the web and sent me an email. I never responded because I didn’t want to make ongoing contact even though I’m sure it would have been just innocent talk about child memories and catching up.

    People don’t talk about it much but the reality is that having a clearance has an effect on shaping lifestyle; watch out who your friends are.

  132. Avatar

    Guideline B (Foreign Influence) basically covers contact with anyone “who is a citizen of or resident in a foreign country, if that contact creates a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion.” So that includes US citizen living abroad.

    Having contact with such people creates a potential for heightened risk and so the investigation must attempt to confirm or refute the existance of the risk.

    Having a clearance without understanding what’s important and what’s not important can unnecessary limit your choices in life.

    A few years back I did the PRSI on a Army Colonel who had previous been the Army Attache in the capitol of a very important country. He made a wide range of close professional associations with military attaches of numerous other countries and kept in contact with all of them–they visited each other and corresponded regularly. His PRSI took 3 hours because I had to gather detailed information on each person as well as his history of contact with them. The colonel’s foreign associations, correctly, had no effect on his security clearance–it just took longer to investigate. Which is the investigator’s problem not his.

    Consider the US intelligence officer who works bilateral operations in a foreign country. Many of the people he contacts are going to be foreign spies. When I interviewed such people, I had to frame the questions, so that they could respond negatively to them, if their contact with foreign spies was totally within the limits of what they were authorized to do.

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    Sounds like your getting an MBI or Minimum Baackground Inv. The 85P is for Public Trust. The MBI can be on SF 86 or 85P, depending on the agency’s request. These are normally used for positions considered low to moderate risk (Not you just the job). The Investigator will meet with you and if it is an MBI, letters will be sent to your references to answer a small questionnaire for OPM. Hope this helps.

  134. Avatar

    I’m not aware of any government-wide law or regulation that limits the time period covered by questions asked during a security investigation. OPM has internal policy requiring investigators to restrict their questions to the time periods specified by the SF85/SF86 questions. There are required interview questions that do not appear on the forms. Each federal agency (and their investigative arm) operates under its own set of rules for background investigations.

    With regard to Public Trust investigations and clearances, there is very little overarching federal policy and no government-wide implementing procedures.

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    It doesn’t matter how the investigators perceive your underage drinking. Their job is to investigate and collect information, not to judge it. The adjudicators will view your underage drinking as a possible alcohol dependency problem and a lack of willingness to obey the law–both are big minuses for a security clearance.

  136. Avatar

    I think I would pass a security clearance. I have used marijuana maybe twice in the past seven years most recently probably 3 years ago . About 6.5 years ago I had some problems with anxiety. I actually don’t remember much about it. I was prescribed some medications that I think caused me to act strangely, and I was in the hospital briefly, like 2 days, before I was released. I was going through a break up at the time, and it was my first year of graduate school. After seeing a counselor for a few months and being on anti-depressants, Pretty quickly I discovered that I could manage stress best through exercising and eating healthy, and that has been my strategy for the last 6 years.

    My problem is that I don’t remember a lot of the details. I may have seen doctors that I don’t remember, and I also don’t remember the name of the counselor I saw. I know the hospital I was put in, and that is about it. It’s kind of the same story with the drug use, I know it has been a few years, and I don’t remember exactly when, where, or how many times. I think it’s probably less than 10 times in my life.

    How detailed do I have to be for security clearance? What happens if I can’t remember some of this information?

  137. Avatar

    Mr. Henderson,

    I assume almost all of us here drank while underage in college if we attended one. If they grant TSs to people who have done cocaine are they really concerned with college drinking? I understand alcohol abuse is a serious problem, but is weekend drinking as a college student a security issue (excluding questions they ask in the PRSI about behavior while intoxicated etc.). I never even considered it could be a security issue because (non-binge) drinking is so common. Yikes!

  138. Avatar


    I recently had an active DOE Top Secret “Q” Clearance granted back in August 2007. I left that company in December to work for a different company on a another government contract. The position requires a 6c Public Trust clearance. I was told that they will not recognize my DOE Top Secret and have to begin the process again from the beginning and have already been waiting upwards of 5 months. They will only recognize a DOD Top Secret. From what I understand, the 6c falls below both the DOD and DOE Top Secret clearances, why will they not accept my DOE clearance? Thank you.

  139. Avatar


    Your underage drinking will be reviewed by an adjudicator, as a possible alcohol concern that can be mitigated. Without having any other alcohol concerns such as; arrests, or family, friends and/or references reporting concern for your alcohol consumption, you should be fine…

    I hope this helps?

  140. Avatar


    The questions on the questionaire are for you to report incidents within that time period. Not for the investigation to stop at that magic date… If someone was an axe murderer 50 years ago, and now they are requesting a clearance; Do you think the government might want to know a little more about the incident???

    I hope this helps?

  141. Avatar


    Also, review the mitigating factors for Alcohol Consumption, Criminal Conduct and Personal Conduct. If questioned (which you most likely will be) explain to the investigator how you have realized the activity was wrong and illegal. And you will not consume alcohol again, until it is legal for you to do so. Then, don’t drink/consume alcohol until that time…

    I hope this helps?

  142. Avatar

    Thank you for your comments. I currently hold an SF-85P Public Trust that is only two years old. When I went through the last PSI they limited it to questions to the time period on the SF-85P except for the ones with “ever” wording, ie. felony, axe murdering, revocation of clearance, etc. The first investigator told me the 7-year lookback applies per OPM strict regulations. It just surprised me the two same type of BI interviews would be so different. So now my question is: people with misdemeanor offenses 25+ years old, with expunged misdemeanor records, etc. are still supposed to answer “ever” questions?? Thanks for your help.

  143. Avatar

    One more thing, the investigator even asked questions like “Have you ever filed bankruptcy”. I haven’t, but I thought things like that were strictly limited due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, etc. When I asked him about it, he said he asks the same exact questions whether he is conducting a Top Secret, Secret, Confidential, etc. He doesn’t change his questions. Why do they bother telling people it is 7-year, 10-year etc, if they have the authority to ask “ever” on everything?

  144. Avatar

    I just said it was a big minus, not that it couldn’t be mitigated. The reason it is more significant in domonic’s case than with most other people is that he is still underage, still drinking, and still breaking the law. If I were in his position I would have stopped drinking several months ago in anticipation of applying for a job with the FBI. This also starts to get into the area of “judgment” and “maturity.”

  145. Avatar

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act only applies to original credit grantors, not to government agencies.

    It sounds to me that your first interviewer was lazy and asked questions generally used for the SSBI (TS clearance) in all his PRSIs regardless of what type of investigation he was conducting and probably failed to use the correct wording in his questions for even an SSBI PRSI. You should get a copy of your investigative report and see if the first investigator put anything into that exceeded the time limits.

    The basic scope and period of coverage for national security clearance investigations is covered by the National Investigative Standards. But these are minimum requirements and each standard has a clause regarding expansion of the investigation. Generally there must be some trigger to cause an investigation to be expanded.

    There is no equivalent national standard for Public Trust investigations.