Obtaining a Foreign Passport Can Result in Clearance Denial
Your ancestors came over from the “Old Country” a generation or two ago before you came along, and now you want to embrace their heritage and culture, and perhaps reconnect with previously unknown extended family members. You go for a visit and think it would be cool to get dual citizenship and get another passport. However, if you are a security clearance holder or a future applicant, before you take any steps to seek out dual citizenship and obtain any inherent benefits that may come with it, you should research the adjudicative guidelines under Foreign Preference to ensure you understand what the disqualifiers are that could result in a security clearance denial, as well as what may mitigate any concerns.
In a recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals case an applicant was denied a security clearance because in 2008 he applied for and obtained Irish citizenship, was issued a Republic of Ireland passport, and then traveled four times from 2010-2011 while using that passport. Even though the applicant turned over his passport to the FSO for safekeeping after filling out his security clearance application and realizing that it may be an issue, it did not mitigate the judge’s concerns about the applicant seeking out foreign citizenship and using a foreign passport to travel.
The guidelines state that it is potentially disqualifying for security clearance applicants who exercise any right, privilege or obligation of foreign citizenship after becoming a U.S. citizen. As always, when doubts about an applicant exist, the decision to grant a clearance will always be made with the interests of national security coming first.