Ask Your Clearance Questions: Part 5
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Ask Your Clearance Questions: Part 5
Getting/Updating a Clearance, investigations

Our popular series of Q&A regarding security clearances continues in this thread. Before you ask your question, please navigate to view threads one through three to see if your question has already been asked and answered. When asking a question, please include all relevant details to your case. Avoid using acronyms when possible, and do not publish your email address in your posting. Thanks

  1. Jennifer:

    Yes, the location and the position(s)held by your relatives “back home”, do have a bearing on the adjudication of SC eligibility.

    I hope this helps?

  2. I am a natural born citizen of the United States and back home is Thailand. As of right now, any advice you give me is help, thanks!

  3. Hi,

    Fabulous resource here…just put my order in for the book too and am very much looking forward to reading it. My situation:

    I am currently employed as a career federal employee (since April 2003) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and am in the midst of upgrading my clearance to secret.

    E-QIP was submitted late August 2007. Interview with investigator held shortly thereafter.

    The latest I hear from OPM is that my investigation is ‘closed/pending’ and that the only remaining hurdle to a final determination is the FBI name check.

    Now, working with CIS has allowed me a certain level of familiarity with the FBI name check process in regards to the immigrant applicants I deal with on a daily basis. We, the general public, have heard the horror stories of FBI name checks taking years (in some instances) to clear. It is such a problem that now many applicants have taken CIS to court (via a ‘mandamus’ action) to try to expedite the process. See here for more information about the mandamus process:

    Given that CIS, in my experience, generally moves a little quicker when prompted, might the same hold true for my pending FBI name check? I am thinking about enlisting the aid of my Senators and/or Congressman to see what, if any, assistance they can provide.

    Is this advisable? If so, would it be beneficial in any respect?


  4. Jennifer:

    The location and the position(s)held by your relatives “back home”, do have a bearing or impact on the adjudication of SC eligibility.

    I hope this helps?

  5. Hello,

    Quick question about cases moving between investigation and adjudication:

    Initial TS for contractor. Currently hold active final Secret/interim TS. Submitted paperwork November 2007. Had subject interview January 2008.

    I had no contact for 3 months so I corresponded with the investigator who did my interview. He said that my case was deleted from his records because the case had been closed and the 30 day record-keeping required in case adjudicators needed more information had passed.

    Does this mean my case is now in adjudication? The reason I ask is 3 of my sf86 references and 1 additional developed reference were abortively contacted for interviews but the investigators canceled/didn’t return calls. These references would be in different offices from the one of my SI investigator. Is everyone listed on a sf86 for a TS/ No-SCI required to be interviewed or is it at the investigator’s discretion?

    When a case is closed in one office of the OPM investigators does this mean it is globally closed and it is being adjudicated by DISCO?

    Hopefully this would mean I would receive clearance (I’m positive there is no derogatory information) before June? (3 mo. adjudication?)

    Thank you for your time!

  6. edge141:
    With regard to Lucile’s posts, I have always maintained that a good adjudicator should look at conduct, not outcomes. If you commit a crime but are not caught; if you commit a crime but beat the charge due to a technicality; if you borrow money from a friend but the debt is unenforceable because there was no written agreement—you should still be judged by your conduct even though no action could be taken against you.

  7. Hello again:

    Not sure what happened to the rest of my comment from yesterday, most of it was cut off. I am basically wondering if there is a secret number of “yes” responses before the application is denied. Is this where I should carefully explain my case on the application and in the interview? I would like to be honest and hope that has some merit, versus lying as I have heard some people do. Thank you and apologies for the technical difficulties.

  8. After reading many posts and replies about foreign spouses I remain confused about the impact on SCI eligibility of a foreign spouse. Because after all, the foreign spouse becomes a US citizen after three years. What if there is just one year remaining for the spouse to become a US citizen? If the application was made when the spouse is a US citizen it would seem nothing to worry about. But 1 year prior to gaining citizenship is the foreign spouse permanent resident considered a much higher risk? Similar concept regarding elderly foreign relatives. What if, in the current year the application has a permanent resident spouse with elderly foreign in-laws. In the near future, it is inevitable that spouse gains citizenship, relatives pass away, and everyone in the immediate family is a US citizen. Isn’t this different than someone who has ongoing foreign connections that persist into the future?

  9. Clarification of my previous post: I meant to say “SCI eligibility of an applicant that has a foreign spouse.”

  10. Mr. H.:

    I agree, thus the “make an effort” and, not “let fall off” advise. Actions do go along way!


  11. I recently received a job offer from a federal agency pending a security clearance. I am in my mid-twenties and have not used marijuana for 2 years and 2 months. Before I stopped using I had some mental health issues associated with its usage and LSD which I used twice when I was 18 / 19. I also worked a few months as a contract employee to a government agency when I was 21 and used marijuana a few times when I was employed in that capacity, but had no clearance for that position. I had counseling after that briefly and decided to quit totally. Also I briefly dabbled in selling marijuana to my friends when I was 18, though I was never in trouble. I intend to fully disclose EVERYTHING in the clearance process. Mitigating factors would be my two years and two months of a drug free lifestyle, the whole time which I have been employed at a reputable company and successfully completed a college degree. I have excellent credit and reputation in the community (I even have approached many youths and tried to talk them out of using drugs and alcohol) and only run in with the law was a ticket for underage alcohol consumption when I was 19. What are my chances?

  12. RSV:

    Lying can only bring trouble, as the truth normally surfaces.. It is best to tell the truth and let the chips fall as they may…

    I hope this helps?

  13. In November 2007 I applied for a Secret Clearance. I had been treated for depression in 2003-2004; I put this on my e-Qip questionare. My interim clearance was denied; the company security officer said this was likely due to my history of depression. In the 5 months since my interim was denied, I have heard nothing. No interview and my references have not been contacted. Other employees in my companywho started about the same time did have their interim clearances denied, but had an interview within 4-6 weeks of application. They now have their clearances. What gives? Should I be concerned?

  14. Mark:

    I didn’t have an interview and none of my references were contacted before I received my final Secret clearance. It took November 2006 – July 2007.

    Subject interview and interviews with references is only required for TS (what I’m doing now).

  15. Also, just a general comment. For those of you who are talking about lying or are proud to be disclosing everything: shame on you.

    Anyone who doesn’t write absolutely every small thing down on their forms should be put into prison. It makes me sick to think people receiving clearances, who are supposedly extremely patriotic, would do such a thing.

    LIST EVERYTHING. Period. There is no place for half-truths. When you don’t list something, even something small, represent a blackmail/security risk and could do irreparable harm to the country, everyone reading this blog, and their families.

  16. Mark:
    If your and your work associates’ clearance investigations are/were being conducted by OPM, you should understand that there are five or six different investigative organizations conducting these investigations. Each operates independently. Some are completing investigations sooner than others and there are also differences by geographic location. Some of your work associates’ investigations could have be done by a different investigative organization than the one that has your case. Usually when an interim Secret clearance is not granted, the reason it was not granted can be a trigger for a Special Interview (SPIN) and additional investigative actions. For some government agencies OPM automatically conducts a SPIN based on written guidelines from the government agencies. For others OPM sends the completed investigative report to the government agency without a SPIN, and the government agency then decides whether to send the case back to OPM for the SPIN. This all takes time.

  17. MainStreet:
    Your past use of illegal drugs probably can not be fully mitigated by “passage of time” alone because your mental health/drug counseling is an aggravating/complicating factor.

    Selling marijuana when you were 18 (depending on the details) may also impact the amount time you must be free of any drug involvement before a clearance can be granted. See my 30 March 2008 11:18 PM post in this threat about illegal drug involvement vs. passage of time.

  18. Thank you for your insight.

  19. Scorp:
    For a collateral clearance the type of information you bring up is taken into consideration by adjudicators because of the wording in the Adjudicative Guidelines under Foreign Influence. However for SCI eligibility, current DNI/CIA regulations prohibit granting SCI to anyone who has immediate family members (including spouse or cohabitant) who are not US citizens. It is possible to get a waiver.

    This is an issue of risk avoidance vs. risk management that is currently being hashed out at the highest levels of government. The fact that a large percentage of recent espionage cases have involved foreign influence will not help those advocating greater reliance on risk management.

  20. Sam:

    Investigators are required to destroy their field records a certain number of days after they have submitted their report. This is an administrative policy. It allows enough time to insure that the completed ungarbled report reached the “case control” office of the government agency conducting the investigation (not the adjudicative agency). One investigator could submit his report three months before another investigator in a different location. Consequently field records in one location could be destroyed/deleted long before the investigation is completed and sent to the adjudicative facility.

    The only people listed on your SF86 that must be interviewed (and there are exceptions to this rule) are your past supervisors. Everyone else is optional.

  21. Geoffrey:
    Your chances of getting a security clearance are very poor. See my 30 March 2008 11:18 PM post in this threat about illegal drug involvement vs. passage of time.

  22. RSV:
    There is no secret number of “yes” responses before a clearance is denied. The most frequently cited reason for denying a clearance is intentionally providing false information during the clearance process. With regard to past illegal drug use, see my 30 March 2008 11:18 PM post in this threat about illegal drug involvement vs. passage of time. Almost all security/suitability issues can be mitigated, including mutiple issues.

    Because you are applying for a TS clearance, your investigation will include a Personal Subject Interview—PRSI.” You should prepare yourself for this interview by reviewing all mitigating factors in the Adjudicative Guidelines under each guideline that applies to you including “Personal Conduct” which is a catch-all for multiple minor issues. If an interim TS clearance is important in your case, you should include as much mitigating information on your SF86 as possible, otherwise only mention them briefly and expand on them during the PRSI.

  23. Thank you Mr. Henderson. I guess I can’t assume my investigation is done, but it’s nice to know lacking interviews doesn’t necessarily mean I’m way behind.

  24. CIS:
    FBI name checks for CIS purposes are handled separately from those conducted for security clearances, so the backlog is much shorter for security clearances. These usually take from 30 to 60 days. Something has probably slipped through the cracks in your case, because the FBI name & technical fingerprint search should have been requested as soon as your case was opened. I am also confused by the fact that you had an interview with an investigator. The investigation for a Secret clearance (in your case a NACLC) does not include a routine Subject Interview. However if you are being considered for both a Secret Clearance and a Public Trust position, there would be a routine Subject Interview.

    I wouldn’t contact a congressman until you give your security manager a chance to find out what happened. If the FBI check was not requested last fall as it should have been, then it’s best to just wait. If the FBI check was requested last fall and is still pending and your security manager and/or OPM promises to do something about it, give them 30 days before going outside your agency for help.

  25. Sam:
    There are requirements for certain types and numbers reference interviews in an SSBI for a TS clearance. But many of the reference interviews can be conducted with people that are not listed on the SF86. Actually this is preferred.

  26. William, thanks very much for the answer: “However for SCI eligibility, current DNI/CIA regulations prohibit granting SCI to anyone who has immediate family members (including spouse or cohabitant) who are not US citizens. It is possible to get a waiver.”

    If there is a job offer that is contingent on SCI and the spouse still has 1 year remaining to US citizenship, does the waiver process typically add a long time to the normal SCI processing time? i.e. If the boss is expecting work to start after 3 months doing alternate non-SCI projects while waiting for adjudication, is the waiver process most likely going to delay the start of the real work? Is it difficult to get a waiver for a foreign spouse when the applicant otherwise has an exsiting TS SSBI with a very clean background? In this case should the applicant just forget about this job opportunity because of small chances? Or go for it anyway because there is a “reasonable” chance of a waiver?

  27. Scorp:
    A waiver will not even be considered without a “Certification of a Compelling Need.” Only the Facility Security Officer or Program Security Officer at the company that gave you the job offer can tell you what their experiences have been in the past with the Govt Agency they are dealing with. There is no statistical data available, only antecodal information and the antecodal info would only be applicable to the specific govt agency granting the SCI and the specific contractor/program it was requested for. The FSO/PSO would have the most recent info on this.

  28. Sorry, that’s anecdotal, not antecodal.

  29. William, excellent advice. I have another question about the SSBI that I can’t seem to find anywhere. Sources are not always accurate, something I learned from newspaper reporters quoting sources. When the background report is written is it possible for the applicant to find out what’s inside the report to have the chance to show evidence that would clarify something that was written? I’ve seen the background investigation reports published on the web as part of the appeals process, so apparently these reports can be made public. But, maybe it would be unwise to request one’s own report, I am not sure.

  30. Scorp:
    The investigative reports are protected under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts (FOIPA). You have a right to a copy of your own complete investigative file (minus any confidential source information and any medical information a doctor says should not be released directly to you). You can only request the report after the investigation is completed. Anyone who has received a Statement of Reason (explaining why the clearance may be denied) and intends to rebut the SOR would be foolish not to get a copy. I believe that almost all government agencies responsible for these investigation have instructions on their websites for obtain reports under the FOIPA.

  31. Interesting, I didn’t know that you could get your own report. Or at least this fact is not heavily advertised. If the clearance is granted and in active status I wonder if it would also be a good idea to get a copy of the report or if this would make the agency think you’re poking around too much into their process evaluating yourself, if that makes any sense.

  32. To be more specific, suppose that someone with an unreliable personality happened to be a source and said something untrue, maybe because of bad memory. It goes into the report. The collateral clearance is granted because this is minor and anyway there are plenty of mitigating factors. But still, it’s not something that should be on the report on the first place (if evidence can be provided to the contrary) because of its effect on future renewals or SAP or SCI. I wonder if there is a process by which unreliable information can be brought to someone’s attention and corrected if the collateral clearance was granted after all. This is nothing that happened to me, just strikes my curiosity if there is a provision for this process.

  33. Sorp:
    No one at a government agency will care whether or not you request a copy of your investigation.

    There is nothing you can do about things others say about you, regardless of whether or not it is true. If incorrect information was relied upon to make an adverse decision, then you could rebut it through the normal rebuttal process. When someone provides unfavorable information, it is standard procedure for the investigator to pursue the issue and attempt to corroborate or refute the information through other sources. Uncorroborated non-record information should never be relied upon by an adjudicator to deny or revoke a clearance.

    The only time an adjudicator should reach back to an old report is when the original clearance was issued with an “exception” or when a issue surfaces during a new investigation that should have been covered in the prior investigation. Unless an old issue involves “foreign influence” it will probably have no effect on a future SCI eligibility determination.

  34. I am currently working under an interim Secret clearance issued Jan. 2008. OMB investigator met with me in early April 2008 for upgrading that to Secret. I held a TS/SCI with DOS up until 1996. In 1997 I moved to Chile for a US based company. I have had contact with various Chilean citizens and government people in the course of my work there. No drug or financial problems. I am now being considered for a TS/SCI job here in Washington. What is the normal processing time for a TS/SCI – assuming no problems but with substantial foreign residency/travel (no contact with any organizations or persons who might be considered as threats to the US).

  35. Jim B:
    There is no interview upgrading an interim Secret clearance to a Secret clearance. In fact there is no routine interview for a Secret clearance. So your interview was a SPIN (Special Interview) to address some matter of security or suitability concern. One one exception to this would be if you were being considered for both a Secret clearance and a Public Trust clearance.

    Average processing time for non-issue cases for TS/SCI ranges from about 3 to 6 months depending on the agency involved (according to government figures). However, I don’t believe these numbers. NRO is claiming that their end-to-end processing for the top 85 percent of their TS/SCI cases in FY07 was 35 days.

  36. If I’m hired for a civilian Army position based upon a signed security waiver, can I still be fired, if for some reason I’m ultimately rejected for a TS security clearance? I certainly don’t forsee this happening but if rejected then are there any other avenues besides being let go?
    Can one appeal this decision and stay employed or search for other employment until the decision is final?
    Would the Government allow an individual to transfer to another agency (if opportunities exist) rather than going unemployed?
    Would this be considered a break in service if you needed some time to find another civilian job?

  37. HMPayne:
    Security clearance denials are first rebutted and if unsuccessful, then appealed. It’s a long process before the final decision is made.

    Sorry, but the rest of your question is outside my area of knowledge, so I can’t provide any useful info. Perhaps someone else on this blog has some insight.

  38. I have applied and been interviewed for a TSA position at a nearby airport that requires a security clearance. My credit report needed some rehabilitation, which has been done. Everything is either paid off, closed, or is up-to-date and current.

    After I got that pretty much squared away, in February I learned that my wife had not paid our federal taxes in five of the last eight years. Needless to say I was not pleased. Not at all.

    Anyhow, bottom line, I contacted the IRS and we got all of the returns filed and paid in full. There are not, nor have there been, any liens, etc., against any property, bank accounts, or anything else. Everything is supposedly squared away (according to them, anyway).

    My BI was supposedly initiated last week. The natural question is, will either of these issues affect me being granted the clearance and therefore getting the job?


  39. Buck:
    It’s great that you cleaned up your debts before you applied for the clearance. Your past financial delinquencies could still result in an interim clearance denial. Your chances of getting a final clearance will depend on why you were previously delinquent and what changes you have made in your life to preclude future financial problems. If you haven’t already, take a look at the two articles posted at for more info on clearances and financial matters.