Obtaining Security Clearance

So you need a Security Clearance . . .

The Defense Security Service (DSS) recently produced a brochure entitled, So you need a Security Clearance . . . How to Receive and Maintain Your Security Clearance. This 16 page publication gives a general explanation of security clearances and the process involved in getting one. It also covers individual responsibilities, security issues, and Public Trust determinations, a good primer for the uninitiated.

DSS also has a video entitled, “Tips for e-QIP Submission” (also available in text form) that includes 10 tips for completing the SF-86.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    I have a question. I am currently seeking employment as an administrative assistant or program analyst in the Maryland & Virginia area. I have a strong interest to pursue a career with defense contractor and want to find out the best method to acquire employment and clearance, despite the fact that the majority of positions that I qualify for require a clearance level?

    I am a United States citizen, I pay my taxes and I have never been in trouble with law enforcement.

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    Apply eeven if it requires a clearance. WOW them at an interview and they will sponsor you. One thing is for sure; if you don’t apply you will not get the job. I know alot of people who were not cleared, but caught the eye of the employer. Good luck.

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    Thanks BW, appreciate the information. I know I’m capable of expressing to employers what I am capable of doing and how I can be an asset to their organization. I just need exposure to employers in interviews and prove my experience.

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    I have a question as well. Basically I’m trying to figure out if incidents NOT entered on an sf86 or an sf85p because they weren’t within the scope (7 years) will in fact wind up having an effect on my chances of obtaining a security clearance.

    I”m sorry if this question was answered before in one of the other threads; I find it very difficult to search them all since there seem to be so many, and no index of them.

    If it was answered already, would you mind pointing me to the post where it was?

    If not, would you mind answering, if you know?


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    I don’t recall anyone asking the same question. If unfavorable information from outside the investigative period of coverage surfaces during a background investigation, it is considered in making a security clearance decision. The information is particularly relevant if there is similar unfavorable information within the period of coverage. However, there is a presumption that certain misconduct or irresponsible conduct that occurred more than 7 or 10 years ago is fully mitigated by the “passage of time without recurrence” aspect of rehabilitation.

    There are certain jobs that have unique employment suitability standards that bar employment to an applicant regardless of how long ago the incident occurred. For example a person with a domestic violence conviction (regardless of how long ago it occurred) can not be hired for an armed law enforcement position.

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    How can I go about reactivating a currently “inactive” TS/SCI clearance?


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    one thing that makes getting a security clearance hard to get is when you get laid off from a defense contractor firm and your credit history goes sour because you can’t find a job in today’s economy. Almost surely not to get you a security clearance.

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    I currently have a secret clearance. How difficult is it to have it upgraded to a TS?

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    I was wondering if my wife’s parents living in India should prevent me from obtaining a TS/SCI clearance? All of my immediate family are US Citizens as well as my wife and kids. Only my wife’s mother and father are Indian citizens living in India and her younger brother is an Indian citizen living in Germany and her older brother is a New Zealand citizen. I was told that having relatives or my wife having relatives living abroad in India was an issue to obtaining a TS/SCI clearance and hence have been granted an interim Secret Clearance. If this is not correct can someone point me to some documentation that says otherwise?


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    John: You have to get a job or get a written job offer that requires a TS/SCI and the prospective employer must sponsor you for the clearance.

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    Danno61: Your employer or another employer must nominate you for a position that requires a TS clearance. Then you must submit a new SF86. Since you already have a Secret clearance, you are immediately eligible for an interim TS clearance. A Single Scope Background Investigation will be conducted on you and when completed, a government adjudicator will decide whether or not to grant you a TS clearance. The whole process shouldn’t take more than a few months if there are no problems.

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    I currently have an active Top Secret clearance. What is the diffence between a TS, TS/SCI? and a TS/SCI w/Poly.

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    A TS is a Top Secret clearance, TS/SCI is a Top Secret Clearance with Sensitive compartmented Information and then a TS/SCI with Poly is the aforementioned along with a Polygraph. As indicated in a previous post the employer is the one who requests/nominates an individual for a position requiring these type of clearances.

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    See Guideline B of the DCID 6/4 Annex C: Adjudicative Guidelines. It discusses Foreign Influences. Here is the link:


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    In-laws are not considered immediate family and therefore the provisions of paragraph 6 of Intelligence Community Directive Number 704 don’t apply. ICD 704, which governs SCI access replaced DCID 6/4 in Oct 08. As Investigator indicated your foreign relatives will be evaluated under the Foreign Influence Guideline (B) of the Adjudicative Guidelines. For more information take a look at my article on this subject at https://news.clearancejobs.com/2010/09/05/foreign-influence-and-security-clearances/

  16. Avatar

    Spouse in a very serious auto accident (not of his own fault, old woman ran a red light). Years of surgeries, suffered a depressive episode (one week hospitalization) due to nearly a year passing while insurance companies fought over who would pay to “fix” his back (that is, pay for the first of his 100K surgeries). Three years later, spouse self chose to remove himself off the narcotic pain meds (with aide of a hospital program HE contacted) and successfully moved to another/different pain med (which, thank the Lord is working so much better without the narcotic side effects) and now wants to return to the workforce. BUT OF COURSE, we both wonder if he will ever be able to return to defense contracting. He has 3 degrees, one being an Ivy league masters, so this is not some weekend rebeler/partier (doesn’t even drink beer or smoke), but someone legitimately hurt and the struggle that ensued to reclaim his life. He has NO idea if he should even try to return to defense contracting, and nor does he have ANY idea what to say on the security clearance intake forms as to explain his time away from work, his hospitalizations, and HIS CHOICE to purge off doctor prescribed meds for injuries. ANY advise, good or bad, would be most sincerely appreciated so our family knows in what direction to go.

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    I am a US Citizen born in the US. However, I attended an American school in Taiwan (must have US passport and parents must be US citizens to attend school). My parents are naturalized US Citizens but hold dual citizenship and work in Taiwan (father is a superintendent of a vocational school, mother does not work) They both graduated from US colleges. My parents hold residence in California and travel back and forth between the US and Taiwan. My grandparents (living) are all US Citizens, as are all my cousins and my brother.

    I have no major credit problems (have a small medical bill during college that was late but paid off in full).

    Will I be denied an interim security clearance? and later, a secret or TS clearance?


  18. Avatar

    LOL…sorry, “good or bad” advise refers to providing insight that would be indicative of having a good chance to be considered for clearance by doing X, Y, Z, or to perhaps wait X years before trying to do so; or alternatively, he has very slim chances of ever getting a security clearance and should give up on returning to your past life and go on to teach or do something else.

    Thanks. These years have been riddled with great unknowns for our family, we would just like to know if we should trudge ahead or move on to other pastures.

    Additional factors: Credit is VG (mid 700’s), one misdemeanor arrest 20+ years ago (which was expunged), Bankruptcy 16 years ago (expressly due to both of us losing our jobs withing 6 or so months of one another equating into a loss of dual income for over a year, while a hit and run driver left my car in scraps in the street in front of our home and the engine on the VERY used car bought to replace it blew up within 30 days of buying it…IOW string of expensive bad luck for a then newly married couple who had put all their money into a down payment on their first new to them home….BUT note that we NEVER defaulted or were late with payments on that or any subsequent mortgage).

  19. Avatar

    Thanks William, I am being nominated by my company for a TS. I was wondering if nothing has changed from when I recieved my secret clearance then it shouldn’t be an issue for getting either an interim or the full TS?

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    If there is no unfavorable information on your new SF86 that was not present on your prior SF86 there should be no problem in getting an interim TS clearance. If nothing unfavorable surfaces during the new investigation that was not previously known to the government, then there should be no problem in getting a final TS clearance.

  21. Avatar

    I’m a contract investigator, have had some financial difficulties recently and was looking to see what impact a bankruptcy would have on my current security clearance? I’ve been working with the banks as best I can, have some current late payments but the banks will not lower my monthly payments so due to my situation, I was looking at the only option left, bankruptcy. I know I’m required to report to the contract agencies if I file for bankruptcy but is there any other option? Should I just pay the banks what I can and hope my financial situation will improve? Do late payments have less of an impact than bankruptcy, especially if they continue? I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thanks for your time.

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    Just to add to my previous message, I’ve tried debt management/counseling and my monthly payments would have actually gone up since the Federal guidelines require that the entire debt be paid off in 5 years. If I do a debt settlement, the creditors require payment of the settled amount in 30 days, which I can’t afford either. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    I’m so scared that I may have to divorce my husband so that my past doesn’t effect his clearance interim, which is what we’re in now. We are waiting on his clearance to cross over and it’s freakin me out, what if it’s my fault. I’ll divorce him so that he can fullfill his dream as a civilian contractor. It’s only some debt of about $15K, so is this bad?

  24. Avatar

    Intel Wife,

    WOW!!! I can appreciate your devotion to your husband, but from what I’m reading you may be “Jumpin the gun” a bit. Your debt you brought into a marriage should not be a problem for your husband. Besides, having debt is the American way. I wish I only had the little amount of debt you have. Are you late on the debt? If so, was your husband in any way responsible for the debt? Don’t freak-out, just give us a little more detail.

  25. Avatar


    Can’t tell you what to do, but letting late payments to continue haunting you is not a good thing. If it is credit card debt, have you tried a consolidation loan (From an actual bank) to lower your monthly output? Be leary of the so-called debt counseling places.

    Hey, just because we are investigators, don’t mean we don’t face the same problems as everyone else and I have seen an untold amount of people remain cleared after Bankruptcy as I’m sure you have. Of course, I’m no adjudicator, just my .02. Let us know how things come out and I wish you the best.

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    Mrs Chrys

    Simple answer–Have him go for it–he has done nothing wrong.

  27. Avatar

    Well in all honesty, it’s child support. And I’ve had an unfortunate illness come about that has put me in hardship. It’s only for one child, but that was an abusive issue and it’s over 10 years ago! Thanks so much for your responses, I am very greatful. Oh, and no, my husband is not involved. We just got married.

  28. Avatar

    I had a security clearance when I worked overseas from 2002 until the end of 2005, how can I see if it is still active? If it is not, is there a simple way to reactivate it? Thank you in advance.

  29. Avatar

    If I applied for a job with a company that subsequently sponsored me for a full secret, which I recently was granted, but the company no longer has the government contract… what does that mean to my clearance? If it still viable so that I can advertise to other potential employers that “I have a clearance” or how does that work?

    Thanks, -ponga

  30. Avatar

    Thanks BW. So the hospitalizations (depressive episode and voluntary detox from RX narcotic pain meds) will not pose an issue? We were very concerned that he would be labeled as a risk, or an automatic denial, etc. Thank you for the follow up.

  31. Avatar

    I have a question regarding a recent interim clearance I was granted. The position I just accepted and started with the federal government requires a Secret Level security clearance. I was granted my interim level security clearance and just began work this week. Unfortunately, over the past weekend (after my interim clearance had already been granted) I was arrested for DUI.

    My question is, will this arrest prohibit me from obtaining an actual Secret Level security clearance? It is the only blemish of any kind on my record and I might be able to get it expunged after my court date in October. Also, should I tell someone about the arrest or should I just assume that they’ll find out about it and address it at that point? I’m not sure who I would tell if that is the proper course of action; I haven’t had an interview with an investigator yet, so I’m assuming that would be the best time to bring it up?

    I made a terribly stupid mistake and I’m nervous that it’s going to cost me this job that I worked really hard to get. Any honest assessment and advice would be very much appreciated.


  32. Avatar

    Possibly how long can a clearance “cross over” take? It’s been about 6 weeks for us!

  33. Avatar

    Ms. Chrys: I agree with BW. Legal use of drugs is not a security issue, nor is a major gap in employment due to hospitalization. A past depressive episode is not adjudicatively significant unless there is a diagnosis or evidence of a current problem. The things that happened before your spouse first received a security clearance are no longer relevant.

  34. Avatar

    Intell Wife: “Crossovers” only apply to people moving from contractor to contractor or government to contractor. To be eligible for a crossover, his SSBI must be less than 5 years old (sometimes 7 years); his SCI was granted without and “waiver,” “condition,” or “deviation;” the sensitivity level of his existing SCI is equal to or greater than the sensitivity level of the SCI at the gaining agency; and the gaining agency has no knowledge of any substantial info that he does not meet current eligibility standards. Six weeks for a crossover seems a little long.

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    “Still have clearance:” No, it is not still active, and it can not be reactivated because more than 2 years have elapsed since your clearance was active in the end of 2005.

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    Ponga: If the company no longer has any classified contract with the same government agency, your clearance terminated. Otherwise it is possible for you to retain your clearance. If your clearance terminated, you can have your clearance reinstated by getting another job that requires a clearance within 2 years. People commonly used the terms Active, Current, and Expired to describe the status of a clearance. If your clearance terminated, you can indicate on your resume that your clearance is “current.” After 2 years it will be “expired.”

  37. Avatar

    You must report the DUI to your security officer. Do it immediately. And shame on the security officer for not briefing you on your responsibility to self-report certain conduct and conditions. Your interim clearance will probably be withdrawn. Your investigation will be expanded and will take longer. You will probably get a final Secret clearance, if this was an isolated incident and there are no other indications of past or present alcohol abuse.

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    Sarah: Check out my 3-part article on Personal Finances and Security Clearances. It addresses bankruptcy. Part 1 is posted at https://news.clearancejobs.com/2010/01/28/the-impact-of-delinquent-debt-on-security-clearances/

  39. Avatar

    Thanks for the guidance on handling and dealing with my financial situation. It wasn’t something I planned and of course being a contractor now and the amount of money earned is not consistent, this has contributed to me not being able to keep up on payments. I can’t qualify for any consolidation loans and as I mentioned before, the banks won’t reduce my monthly payments and debt consolidation would actually make my payments go up each month. I want to take care of my financial obligations but when you get stuck, bills keep adding up, there are not many alternatives. I know I have to report if I file for bankruptcy but just didn’t know what impact it could have on my clearance. Thanks to all.

  40. Avatar

    I received a tentative offer of employment for the army corp of engineers. I have a deployment date in november to goto Afghanistan as a civilian. I am going to be honest on my security clearance application but was wondering what my chances of receiving clearance is going to be. I am 30 years old and had a DUI 1st back in nov. 2002 and a dui 1st in March 2009 (different states). I am a social drinker that has made a couple of bad decisions. I took an alcohol evaluation and was not required for treatment. I have been taking counseling for life skills to work on being more sociable without alcohol. I now only drink occasionally and have cut down the amount consumed. I have been taught to “plan” before going out to drink and has been successfull for me. What are my chances of obtaining a security clearance since this last dui has been so soon?

  41. Avatar


    Here is my situation, I have a job offer on the line, pending I get my interim secret clearance. I have no drug use/no charges/no foreign relations or connections. My problem is that I have delinquent taxes totalling 330, and I owe a college 1000. I have student loans and an auto loan that total about 36000, but I am currently still a student, and have never made a late car payment in a year in a half. No bankruptcy, no liens, one or two small bills that were in collections maybe a year or two ago. I was immature and struggling to pay for college out of pocket, and this is the reason for my deliqunecies. I am reading that any negative info on the sf-86 is almost a guaranteed denial for an interim. Are the mitigating factors really taken into consideration? Also, I’ve had a clearance a 5 or so years ago, does this make any difference? Very worried about getting the interim.

  42. Avatar

    BW & Mr. Henderson: I want to thank you both so very much for your replies. This area is such a black hole for us lay people. The only caveat seems to be your mention of a “current problem”. I guess having a “problem” is very much subjectively viewed by investigators and employers alike, and may even be viewed on opposite ends of the spectrum by these two entities relative to the same candidate.

    Does regular psychological pain management treatment constitute a “problem”? Spouse is NOT diagnosed with any genetic psychological malady (like bi-polarism, etc), but does require pain management therapy, with notations of past depressive episode. We would anticipate his current approach to pain management to likely be a part of my spouse’s routine for the next few years due to the good it has done thus far as he masters the various techniques he is learning (rapid eye movement therapy, meditation, audio taped bio feedback techniques, and of course, the simple chance to vent, etc.)

    Again, thanks for the input and any suggestions (even if wait a few months or years after regular therapy sessions have been tapered or concluded.)

  43. Avatar

    Mrs Chrys

    What William meant–if your husband is having a current bout of depressive episodes. If this is the case, we will contact the Doctor and if the doctors agrees he doesn’t have an issue with judgment, reliability with regards to safeguarding classified material–that is what we need to report than the adjudicators take it from there. Of course during the interview your husband may have to explain everything he has gone through in his own words. Believe me when I say,we investigators do not look at anything subjectively as we only report facts received. The investigators are in no position to judge anyone’s suitability nor would we ever try. I sure hope things work out for you as it sounds like you have had a hard road.

  44. Avatar

    Two DUIs spaced 7 years apart coupled with your proactive efforts to insure that you don’t repeat this mistake in the future should not ultimately result in the denial of a security clearance. Your chance of getting an interim clearance is poor. Your investigation will take longer than average. If the Army Corps of Engineers wants you to have at least an interim Secret clearance before you are hired, you need to load up your SF86 with as much information as possible that will mitigate the Alcohol Consumption and Criminal Conduct security concerns.

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    Thanks William. Im not sure if i will be filling out the form or not. I think that the deployment center has people doing all of that. I gave them some basic info today and they might be taking care of it. I appreciate your feedback and opinion. Makes me feel a little bit better about getting my clearance

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    l have a security clearance with a governemnt contractor for the past two years and just got a federal job. l hve had two children outside my marriage since then. Will it affect my security clearance?

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    Nobody but YOU should be filling in your questionnaire. Double check this.

  48. Avatar

    Is it necessary for a company that is hiring a canidate, to have him fill out an SF86 even if they have an active clearance that is not due to update for another year or so? If so, would this be a part of a “cross-over” procedure?

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    Intell_Wife: No it is not necessary and no it is not part of the crossover procedure. In fact it is contrary to crossover procedures. But that doesn’t mean that the IC agency involved isn’t requiring the contractor company to do this. When it comes to reciprocal acceptance of SCI eligibility, IC agencies are notorious for not following the rules and doing whatever they want. The contractor companies have to treat these IC agencies as customers and do whatever they are told to do.

  50. Avatar

    I have a question that I can’t figure out the answer to. I have a friend who is under consideration for a federal job. He was instructed to fill out the SF-86 on the OPM website, print it out and mail it in. He was not required to submit fingerprint cards and was not given an EQIP invite. He was trying to figure out whether he was going to be undergoing an investigation and getting a clearance or if the organization was just utilizing the SF-86 as an extended application. I was just curious, as I have not heard of this before. Any opinions?

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    Contract Investigator,

    His jon announcement will show if clearance is needed. Also, I have seen Contract companies do this as they do a “Pre-Screen” to see where the candidate stands, but have not heard of a Gov agency doing this. For sure, if the clearamce process goes forward they will ask for print cards. Who knows, they may use a paper copy still as I have seen this on a few occasions recently, mostly MBI’s.

  52. Avatar

    If I understand what an “IC Agency” is then, I believe the contracting company is working with DIA. Would their be any possible complications within this particular agency as far as confirming active clearances? I was told that they might be backed due to summer break! Can this be true and/or accurate?

  53. Avatar

    More information is going to be needed regarding your situation. If I am understanding it correctly you are married but have two children with a woman or women other than your wife? Who else knows about you having these children? Are you supporting them? Are you required by court order to support them? If so are you complying with the court order? If you are required to support them by court order but you are not following the court order why aren’t you? When will you be able to start following the court order? Could you be blackmailed about the fact you have these children with a woman or women other than your wife? These are a few questions that would be asked.

  54. Avatar


    I am a bit perplexed on the definition of immediate family. What is the chance of me obtaining the secret clearance if everyone in the family (mother, siblings, wife, and daughter) is US citizen except for my step-brother? I already have a family of my own and have been working in the defense industry for many years.


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    Whether or not a stepbrother is an immediate family member for security clearance purposes is not clearly defined. But it really doesn’t matter for Secret clearances that do not involve a Special Access Program. Having a non-US citizen immediate family member is not a bar to obtaining a normal Secret clearance. You have to list your stepbrother on the SF86. His security significance will be based on where he lives, what he does, and how close you are to him.

  56. Avatar

    It’s not unusual for a federal agency to get a little behind in its work during the summer and around Christmas time. People in the government take annual leave just like everyone else. I don’t think DIA or any other IC agency has any problem verifying most clearances, except in some instances clearances granted by component agencies of DHS.

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    Mr. Henderson,

    I read your information about financial considerations when it comes to a security clearance but I’m concerned that if I have to file for bankruptcy, report this information to the security departments of the contract companies I currently work for, they are going to remove me. I’m doing everything I can to continue to make all my payments but it’s getting tougher and tougher to do so. There are no options to reduce my monthly payments at this point so I’ve been advised to possibly look into bankruptcy. I have no charge-offs but am currently 120 days late on two of my accounts. I simply can’t afford the banks monthly payments and they will not bend on any option. Is it worse to file for bankruptcy or to continue to make monthly payments in hopes to get caught up again? My credit report is taking a hit due to my current late marks. Thanks for your assistance.

  58. Avatar

    Thank you so much, Mr. Henderson and fellow investigators for the insight. This was very helpful. Now that I have better knowledge of this process, I can sleep a little better. I’m new at all this and it’s a bit intense, but overall well worth it.

    *Note to wives… RELAX!

    Be Blessed

  59. Avatar

    Hello. I have recently just been offered a government position that requires me to fill out an SF85. I currently work for a government contractor and I have a full secret clearance. My question is, would the person doing the investigation be able to see that I have already gone through all the checks for a higher clearance and just grant the clearance for the government job? It just seems like it would be redundant and be a waste of someone’s time.


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    I should have mentioned this before, but I wrote an article on “Security Clearance Reciprocity of Special Access Eligibility.” The article is posted at https://news.clearancejobs.com/2009/07/08/security-clearance-reciprocity-of-special-access-eligibility/. You may find it informative.

  61. Avatar

    Everyone who is hired for a non-sensitive federal job must fill out an SF85. The investigation for a non-sensitive position is a NACI. The NACI is done for employment suitability purposes only and can not be used for a security clearance. The NACI includes letter inquires to current and past employers, schools, police departments, and character references. Your Secret clearance was based on a NACLC, which does not include any letter inquiries (or other methods of reference checking), and can not be used for federal employment suitability determinations. So, you can not compare a NACI to a NACLC; they are different investigations for different purposes. A person can be eligible for a security clearance, but denied a federal job due to employment suitability criteria.

    Unless there is a significant suitability issue present in your case, your case will be handled by personnel at the headquarters element of the investigative agency—no field investigative personnel will be involved. Your completed NACI will be adjudicated based on the criteria at 5 CFR 731.202, not the “Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.”

    Hopefully all this will change next year, if and when they implement the new federal investigative standards that were approved last December. See my article on the new investigative standards at https://news.clearancejobs.com/2009/07/23/new-federal-investigative-standards/ .

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    Thank you very much William for your fast reply.

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    Most (if not all) federal agencies require security clearance holders to self-report any potentially disqualifying condition listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines. Guideline F states “Failure or inability to live within one’s means, satisfy debts, and meet financial obligations. . . .” Obviously a bankruptcy clearly shows that a person can not satisfy their debts, but a bankruptcy is not the threshold for self-reporting financial issues—the threshold is when you become significantly delinquent in paying your debts. OPM considers delinquent debt to be significant, if you are 90 days delinquent and the aggregate delinquent portion of your debt exceeds $3,500. Other agencies may have lower thresholds. So, you may have to report your financial problems to your FSOs even though you have not yet filed for bankruptcy.

    Bankruptcy laws changed a few years ago, and today many people who could have previously had most of their debts absolved through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are only permitted to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where at least partial debt repayment is required through a bankruptcy trustee. You seem to have arrived at the conclusion that bankruptcy may be your only option. A reputable consumer credit counseling service would have suggested bankruptcy, if it was obvious that you didn’t have the ability to repay your debts. You should find out which form of bankruptcy you qualify for and whether it presents a financially viable option.

    I assume you have already eliminated all nonessential expenses and that you are currently working at least 60 hours a week. If you can’t get more than 40 hours of investigative work a week, you should consider part-time non-investigative work until you can paydown your debt to a manageable level.

    Ultimately for a security clearance, bankruptcy is usually a better option than allowing a bad debt situation to continue or get worse. Reporting financial problems to your FSO (whether a bankruptcy or just delinquent debt) could result in having your security clearance suspended by the clearance granting authority. I doubt your company would remove you from your job if your clearance wasn’t suspended. Even if your clearance is suspended you may still be allow to continue working if you don’t require regular access to classified information or facilities and your company’s policy permits you to work until the clearance granting authority takes some definite action. You can reduce the possibility of a clearance suspension by reporting mitigating information at the same time that you self-report your financial problems. Financial problems caused by situations largely beyond your control and resolved through bankruptcy is pretty good mitigation.

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    William: Can you offer any insight into what happens during adjudication? I am currently awaiting a TS clearance from DOS. Background investigation was completed rather quickly (only three months). But my case has been stuck in adjudication for two months and counting; the normal time in adjudication at this agency is about 2-4 weeks. I should note that I have extensive overseas travel and work experience and lived abroad for many years. But apart from that, I do not believe I have any mitigating concerns. My “rap sheet” is clean, my credit history is outstanding, and I’ve never been asked to sit down for a second interview. From what I’m told by colleagues, “no news is good news”.

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    William2: How do you know your investigation was closed and sent to adjudication? Perhaps only part of the investigation was completed–the part that could be done in the U.S. Could it be possible that the overseas portion of the investigation is still pending. The U.S. portion of the investigation is done by a contractor and the overseas portion is done by Diplomatic Security Service personnel.

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    Mr. Henderson,

    Thank you very much for all of your guidance and information. I want to thank the others that provided feedback on this blog too. I hope things will turn around soon and I can continue to work as a contractor.

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    My husband is applying for a job in afghanistan. He has submitted sf86. He does not have any legal/criminal or any drug issues. Our only concern is that we have a single family home that we are delinquent in payments. After we purchased the house, we had unexpected pregnancy and my husband also lost his job. therefore, we were not able to maintain mortgage payment. the hosue is in short sale process and the bank has recently approved the short sale contract and we will be in settlement in the next few weeks. The mortgage for this house and the HOA fees are the only delinquent payments we have. Everything else is on time and we have no other late payment and we have no other debts. this is for an interim clearance, will he be able to get the clearance or will be denied?

  68. Avatar

    I’m the majority owner of a new, small business that does software development for the Army. We currently are on contract doing Secret level work. I do not work on this project, but the employees doing the work already had Secret clearances before coming to my company, and their clearances are currently held by our prime contractor.

    We are going through the FCL process now, which requires me to go through a background investigation. I had some significant debts and judgements in the past. Most have been paid down and/or resolved, but I am still working on paying off some of them.

    If, for some reason, my security clearance is denied, what would that mean for the company’s FCL process and what alternatives would we have?

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    I was polygraphed by an agency last year. My concern was that during the poly I tried to hide the fact that I tried pot once when I was 18. According to the sf86 it only wanted data back to 10 years. This was discovered during the examination and I was denied clearance. Is it even worth my time to reapply or will I be blacklisted and look for non government jobs? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

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    Wow…this website is great. You are doing such a wonderful service.

    I have a TS DoD clearance that has a couple years left before I need to renew. I work for a government contractor. I have applied for a federal position. I have a tentative offer and they are asking for me to fill out the full SF-86 and they have granted me the e-QIP invite. I have several questions that are specific to my situation.

    1. Do I really need to fill this form out right now? Is there a short version? I read a few of the other similar post but didn’t quite understand the crossover.

    2. If I have to fill out the form I have a few concerns. In my job prior to my current position, I was fired. It was the most humiliating experience but I bounced back better. The fear that I might lose this potential job offer because of this past history is haunting. I loved that job and the people but I had a personality conflict with my direct supervisor that lead to my demise with that company. It actually became a politcal action within the company. I do feel like I got the short end of stick. I have excellent references from several higher ranking senior staff but the person who terminated me is still there and was frankly my supervisor who would need to be interviewed by the inspector. Is this a concern?

    3. I have a six figure student loan. I had this loan when I went through the first background investigation which the inspector didn’t seem to have an issue with. But it is a large finacial obligation and with the interest has actually grown since the last investigation. Will inspectors be consistent or is it subjective? What are the guidelines for student loans from the Dept of Ed?

    4. I have over 12 grand in revolving debt with one bad debt that I am making payments on to a collection agency. I think they are reporting not so good things to my credit report. If I clean that up the one bad debt immediately would that make a difference? The 12 grand might be harder to pay off but I do have some assests to liquidate if I have to. How much debt is too much?

    5. I am going full steam ahead at my current job and don’t want them to know of my job application until I accept the job and after the clearance is accepted etc. At that point I will give my notice to my current employer. If I don’t get the position (due to the above issues) then I have no plans to change jobs. The clearance process would require that my current coworkers and supervisor be interviewed which will immediately tip them off that I am looking to leave. I really want them to interview my current employer in light of my last prior supervisor. This is a crazy catch 22. Any advice?

    I am not trying to toot my own horn but I am extremely loyal, honest, hardworking employee trying to do good work. Am I overthinking my concerns?

    Thank you in advance for reading and responding.

  71. Avatar

    If he included a detailed explanation in the SF86 regarding the circumstances surrounding the two delinquent debts and there will be no deficiency balance on the mortgage, he has a chance of getting an interim clearance. He should know within a few days whether he as been granted an interim Secret clearance.

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    SmallBizFCL: Ask your DSS Industrial Security Representative for a definitive answer. Normally all KMP must be cleared at the same level as the FCL; otherwise, no FCL.

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    Sam: Were you given the opportunity to first rebut the reason for the clearance denial and later appeal the decision?

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    I have beem contracting in Iraq and AFG for the past seven years and some of the companies have gone out of business or have no us based address–one is british and the other is an emeriati firm. Do the investigators go out to Red Zone to conduct their investigations? If not, will I likely be one of those people that have to wait 2 + years for a final clearance.

    My situation should not be unique, as there are many people that work in conflict zones where the information can’t be easily acessed.


  75. Avatar

    Travelling Man,

    If your investigation is through OPM, Iraq is a place where OPM does not conduct investigations. There may be some waiting on your end just to confirm this but I don’t think it will take any where near two years.

    My advice to you is to make sure you list all of the employers on your application and explain that they are no longer in business. Also, eventhough the companies may not have a U.S. based address, be sure to list the address even if it is located in another country.

    Finally, be sure to look at the questions regarding foreign contacts and attending international meetings, etc. Because of your job, you may need to answer “yes” to some of these.

    If you are thorough and answer the questions completely and accurately, this will help with completing your case in a timely manner.

  76. Avatar

    I have held a Top Secret clearance since 1987. I am conducting background investigations for government contractors at present and need to hold on to my TS clearance. In 2008 I received my last TS clearance with SCI access. The 2007 issue below was adjudicated as part of my 2008 SSBI PR update. These are the derogatory matters that I am concerned about:

    1986 DUI while in Military; fined and extra duty via Non Judicial Punishment.

    2007 – received a two week suspension from a federal job; however, never served suspension as I went to work for a different federal agency on the day the suspension commenced. I was a federal agent and was internally investigated for correcting a date, adding my initials and those of the person who incorrectly put down the wrong date.

    2009 to present: Creditor Issues: paid off all outstanding debts that were in collections by using my TSP fund upon retiring from Federal government. I have a 602 Credit Score; however, have hired a lawyer to negotiate with my mortgage lender to lower my monthly payment. I took a 60% reduction in income when I retired from my Criminal Investigator position.

    Do you believe OPM will re-award me my TS clearance so I may continue to conduct background investigations for federal contractors?

  77. Avatar


    DUI–non-issue if you don’t drink too much.

    Credit score means nothing if you have made right with creditors and paid your debt. Life events can happen–loss of that much pay is an event.

    The internal inv apparently showed nothing if you remained in your job.

    I personally think you are OK

  78. Avatar

    I’ve had a security clearance since 1987. I am retired from the US Army and have a masters of business administration degree. I am now a DA civilian working in information technology. I had a DUI back in 1984 which I received probation for and the charges were dismissed. I recently had a misdemeanor assault and battery of family member charge where I pled no contest and received two years probation and the charges were dropped, will I be able to renew my security clearance when it is to be renewed in 2018?

  79. Avatar


    As BW AN INVESTIGATOR said, do not stress.
    The reasons behind debt are taking into consideration as well.
    That amount is LOW, do not stress.

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    Quick question for the investigators here.

    On OPM Form 306

    Question 9 asks, ‘during the last 7 years, have you been convicted, been imprisoned, been on probation, or been on parole?’

    About 5-6 years ago I was as a college kid charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia; as a first-timer, the case quickly went under pre-trial diversion with me only paying a fine and attending a single class. In my county/state, diversion is a separate program from probation, and the case file available online really only mentions the arrest, pre-trial diversion fee, and conditional dismissal.

    Would this still be considered “probation” by the folks off in DC? And should I mark this down as yes, mention it in the comments, or just not worry about it? This is simply for a SF 85, so it doesn’t even ask if you have been arrested/charged (which I would answer yes).


  81. Avatar

    Hello!! I recently had an interview with background investigator. He called me back to verify information about a step brother who was in federal prison for drugs about 7 years ago. I did not know about those charges because I have little to no contact with my step brother. I am worried because I don’t know how it might affect my public trust security clearance. I feel someone else’s faults should not be my detriment. I feel sick to my stomach because of this. Will I be denied a security clearance because of this?