Obtaining Security Clearance

Having a Security Clearance vs. Being Eligible for a Security Clearance

What is the difference between having a security clearance versus being found eligible for a security clearance? This question has confounded many applicants after they have endured the long and arduous national security background investigation process and were told it was favorably adjudicated. Many who thought they were cleared found out otherwise when applying for other jobs. No clearance record on them could be located in JPAS, CVS, or Scattered Castles. Just because there is a completed investigation that was favorably reviewed and adjudicated does not mean you have a clearance, rather it just means you are eligible for one. The completed investigation is just one of the steps towards having an active clearance.

First and foremost, there must be a specific need for access to classified information based on your position duties. Many employers like to have clearance eligible employees on hand in case they are given classified work by their government clients on short notice. Once an investigation is favorable adjudicated and a need for access is established, applicants then undergo an initial security briefing and execute the Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement (SF-312) and any other agreements if needed for SCI or SAP access. On that note, in anticipation of the changeover from JPAS to the new Personnel Security Clearance processing repository (DISS) in May 2018, the Defense Security Service put out new instructions outlining specific guidance and requirements for execution of the SF-312. The notice specifically states that applicants are not in access unless a correctly filled out SF-312 with “wet” signatures is on file in DISS. Facility Security Officers should pay attention to this and ensure the nondisclosure agreements are filled out correctly to prevent delays in access.


  1. Thank you for shedding some light on this confusing process, Marko.

  2. Outstanding info for all.

  3. So if a job posting says “TS/SCI eligibility required” - this specifically means they are looking for someone that has ALREADY been through the process, i.e. the “long and arduous national security background investigation process and were told it was favorably adjudicated”? Thanks

  4. No, it means you either already have one or can make it through the process to obtain eligibility.

  5. Ok great, thank you Marko!

  6. Just an add on to this topic, ODNI released an SF-312 FAQ that can be found here:

  7. Your situation is unclear and it would have been better to have started a new thread rather than add to the end of this one . . .

    Do you have a cleared job right now? If you were investigated and cleared back in 2016 but you never started the job, your investigation has expired and you would have to start over from scratch. That may be the “flag” that you were told about.