Can a Foreign-Born Citizen get a Security Clearance?
A federal appeals court found that an Iranian-born worker can sue for discrimination after being fired from his job after being denied a Homeland Security clearance.
Hossein Zeinali was hired by Raytheon in 2002, contingent upon his receiving a clearance. He was terminated in 2006 when it was learned his clearance request had been denied. The cusp of the lawsuit rides on whether or not the clearance really was a requirement of the position given two other employees were purported to have continued working after a similar denial.
Not knowing the details of the Zeinali case we can’t speculate as to the reason behind the denial of his initial clearance request (or the legitimacy of his lawsuit), but the issue of foreign birth is a significant one and a factor in security clearance procedures.
Being born in another country doesn’t prevent a person from obtaining a security clearance, but having dual-citizenship with another country or refusing to give up a foreign passport possessed as a result of dual-citizenship is an issue.
Foreign influence is a significant concern when the government considers individuals for security clearances. The issue at heart is “divided loyalties.” Read: Uncle Sam doesn’t want to give anyone a clearance if they might have difficulty resisting influence from friends, family or allegiances in another country.
As we’ve stated before, critical elements to mitigating outside entanglements include demonstrating allegiance to the United States through attitudes and habits as well as demonstrating a willingness to give up outside influences, be it relationships in a foreign country or financial ties.