Obtaining Security Clearance

Steps You Can Take to Help Speed Up Your Background Investigation

Security clearance reform over the past few years have helped lower the length of time it takes to complete the required national security background investigation. Latest metrics published by the Defense Security and Counterintelligence Agency (DCSA) show Tier 5 investigations for Top Secret taking an average 100 days or less to complete and Tier 3 investigations for Secret taking an average of 74 or less days to complete. Keep in mind these numbers do not include the adjudication times. Helping investigators and adjudicators see the big picture by being totally forthright and providing as much detailed information as possible will get you over the finish line quicker.  Here are some things you, as the applicant, can do to help your background investigation keep moving and not get hung up in speed traps.

  1. Track where you travel—Extensive travel outside of the United States can lengthen the security clearance process. You must report all travel outside the U.S. unless travel was required for U.S. government business. Keep records of the day, month and year when you began and ended all trips.
  2. Document addresses and contact information of the landlord for places you stayed more than 90 days. Keeping track as you go will assist in accurately recounting these details when required.
  3. Remember your contacts—You will need to report all interactions with non-US citizens (foreign nationals). If you have an extensive network of foreign national acquaintances, focus on those with whom you have had the closest ties or interaction with over the last seven years.
  4. Do not use illegal drugs, including marijuana. While legal in several states, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Do not misuse legal or prescription drugs.
  5. Understand your financial situation—We understand you may have debt related to your education, living expenses, etc. However, we may view considerable debt as a vulnerability that could be used against you by foreign adversaries. Review your finances and credit score. Take responsibility for your legal debts. Do not wait until after you have filled out the SF-86 to take actions in resolving delinquent debts. Make sure you are up-to-date with federal, state, property and other taxes. If you have ever filed for bankruptcy, we will need the details, including the docket or case number.
  6. Safeguard your social media—Online relationships matter just as much as interpersonal ones. Establish strict online settings; do not include your address, date of birth or other personally identifiable information in a profile. Do not download files illegally and think before you post. While privacy settings are not foolproof, they can help to reduce your online exposure.

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