Yearlong Wait for Security Clearance
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Yearlong Wait for Security Clearance
Cleared News, Getting/Updating a Clearance

Only a year? See security clearance. I know a lot of job seekers that would be very happy with only a year wait. The average time we’ve recorded over the past 12 months to obtain a clearance from beginning the final award is 14-18 months. What about you?

  1. Chris,
    Yes, the SSBI that was completed for your TS clearance is the investigation needed for an SCI eligibility determination. Ususally the adjudication for TS and SCI occur concurrently at most CAFs (except DISCO). Your SSBI is being re-adjudicated for SCI because it wasn’t done when your SSBI was originally completed. The application of the Adjudicative Guidelines is more restrictive for SCI than it is for a collateral clearance. I have no idea why your SCI is taking so long, but there are three possibilities. 1) OPM has been somewhat successful in reducing its backlog of investigations and these cases have been forwarded to the CAFs who are now experiencing a backlog of their own. 2) Your investigation may have been barely adequate for a collateral clearance decision, but possibly lacking in thoroughness for an SCI decision, thereby requiring multiple levels of review. 3) A combination of the first two possibilities.

  2. I am new here. Reason I am writing is I am up for a position where I must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information. I have multiple issues. (1) 2002 bankruptcy. Due to divorce and business going under within a few years of one another. (2) Currently married to foreign national. Russian. No immigration problems and she has been here in the US for 1 1/2 years, but I am wondering if being married to a Russian citizen… and the bankruptcy… are going to hurt? One other question… does anyone know if (if I am ultimately denied a clearance) contacting a lawyer specializing in clearances yields any positive results, or is that a waste of money? Any advice appreciated.

  3. Dave:

    Both your non-U.S. citizen spouse and your financial situation are potentially disqualifying conditions under Guideline B: “Foreign Influence” and Guideline F: “Financial Considerations” of the Adjudicative Guidelines. However, both situations can be mitigated for a collateral clearance. Foreign influence is judged based on the degree and frequency of contact you and your spouse have with her relatives outside the U.S., any affiliation her relatives may have with foreign governments, and you and your spouse’s foreign business connections and assets. The foreign country involved also factors into this. Financial considerations focus on the reasons for the bankruptcy and your finances after the bankruptcy. It sounds as if you had good reasons for the bankruptcy, so if you have not been delinquent on any debts subsequent to the bankruptcy, you should be able to readily mitigate this concern.

    Before your Subject Interview, you should review the Adjudicative Guidelines and prepare something in writing addressing all the applicable mitigating conditions. If you present all mitigating factors to the best of your ability during your Subject Interview and still receive a Letter of Intent and Statement of Reasons to deny your clearance, consulting an attorney who specializes in security clearances may be worthwhile.

  4. Thanks William. I appreciate your comment.

    I have been doing some research and found something that I hope you can shed some light on. The following stmt:

    “When completing the questionnaire, for Confidential, and Secret Clearances, it’s necessary to provide information for the previous five years.”

    The clearance I am going to be required to have is a Secret. Therefore, I will not have to divulge the bankruptcy if this statement is accurate. I am still waiting the packet from HR so do not have the EPSQ (not sure if it is an E-QIP?) to refer to. Is it a possibility that the bankruptcy will not be an issue as it was outside the 5 year timeframe… and I do not have to report it?

    As an fyi, I am currently collecting letters from all past landlords and even my ex-wife (who surprisingly agreed) stating I have always paid rent, support, etc on time. I may be able to present these letters at the Subject Interview if there is a question of my responsibility financially.

    Any advice on what to prepare the my foreign national wife? She is currently in Russia selling her apartment so I told her to bring a copy of that paperwork to prove she does not intend to keep ties there. Anything else?

    Thanks for you information on this blog… your posts are very informative.

  5. Dave:

    Unfortunately the information you found was incorrect. The NACLC done for Secret and Confidential clearances has a basic period of coverage of 5 years; however, the credit portion is 7 years. In any event, Question #27, “Your Financial Record” on the SF86 asks specifically for information going back 7 years. This requirement is the same for Secret clearances and TS clearances. The basic period of coverage for an investigation for a Secret clearance may only be 5 years; however the SF86 asks for 7 years worth of information for residences, education, employment, finances, court actions, foreign travel, etc. For a TS clearance there are supplement instructions for the SF86 indicating that an applicant must provide 10 years worth of information for residences, education, employment, certain criminal records, and court actions.

    More importantly, for a Secret clearance investigation, the investigation is not automatically expanded for a bankruptcy that occurred more than 2 years ago, if there have been no subsequent credit problems. So your bankruptcy should not automatically result in a Special Interview (SPIN). Rather than gathering letters, I would get a free credit report from each of the 3 national credit reporting agency and make sure there is no unfavorable information listed subsequent to your bankruptcy. Use the website, “”

    If you are a DoD employee/applicant or DoD contractor, your foreign spouse should automatically trigger a SPIN. I can give you some guidance on what information to gather for that interview, but it is too lengthy to post here. Contact me through my website by clicking on my name (above). While you are there get a copy of the SF86 at my website (the questions are the same as on eQIP and the EPSQ). Just navigate to the “about security clearances/resources” page.

  6. Thanks again William. Good info.

    I will get my credit report and ensure it is clear. Actually have a contact in the business of cleaning up credit reports. “SPIN” is a new term to me. I will drop you a line at your website.

  7. My husband is a US Marine officer. He currently holds a Secret Clearance that he received in 2006. He held a TS clearance in 1995. We just found out that he is required to get a new TS clearance to go to Iraq. My questions are these:
    1. Are they going to pull a credit report again or do they just build on the current secret clearance?
    2. If he doesn’t get the TS will he still be able to keep the secret?
    3. He had a DUI in 2000. Although he was able to get the secret clearance with this on his record, will he be able to get a TS clearance?
    4. How hard is it to get an interim TS if you already have a secret clearance?
    5. How long do you estimate it will take to get his TS clearance?
    Thank you

  8. I just found out that my ISSA clearance is in adjudication. Meanwhile I have been offered by a government agency which does NOT require a clearance. The position is a high level position. A little background about myself. I am a naturalized citizen whose foreign relatives are coming to the US as resident aliens. Can anyone tell me if it is worth sticking it until I get my clearance or should I just jump at the position offered.

    Thanks in advance,

    In Dilemma

  9. hi,

    I am a permanent resident alien of US, and i am interested in enlisting in the US army as an intelligence analyst. However, prior to being given the job in the MI fields, one must undergo a top-security clearance. Just wanted to know my chances of getting through with it. Also, my immediate family members, that is, mother,father, and brother too are having green card. There is a fair reason to believe that the US army should open its MI slots to permanent resident aliens, if, at the same time they are willing to put them in the infantry positions.

  10. Akshay – You should visit your local Army recruiting center and obtain information on non-US citizens entering the military for naturalization. That would be the best first step in this process. As a rule, security clearances are not granted to non-US citizens.

  11. Hello,

    I hope someone on here can help me out or at least provide some reassurance with my situation.

    I received a conditional offer for an internal government job in May 07. I Completed psych. testing and 2 polygraph tests by the start of August and my background investigator finished up his interviews with all of my contacts by early august too. And since August I have heard absolutely nothing. I do not get emails or phone calls returned from my HR contact (I’m starting to wonder if she even works there anymore). I believe I am waiting for a TS/SCI clearance.

    Is is normal to not be able to get a return call? I know they probably get hounded all day by people wanting to know if their clearance is finished, but an answer back would be nice.

    I’m only 24 and have done very little moving around and have never left the country, so from what I understand I should be on lower end of the waiting time scale?

    Any suggestions or answers are appreciated.


  12. Hi,

    I was hoping someone might be able to answer some questions for me. I applied for secret security clearance with DHS, August 1. Then I had an interview with an investigator from OPM in October, after which I was contacted by my “case manager” to update contact details, as I was no longer living in Ecuador. Since then I have had no contact, and was recently told that my DOS clearance wasn’t sufficient enough so the investigation had to be redone. Does anyone know where I am in the process and what the rest of the process entails? I have lived abroad, 2 years in the UK, and 3 months in Ecuador. Are there any specific time windows for a Secret Clearance with DHS? Thanks.

  13. Hi, can someone please explain to me why I have to go through a five year update for my secret clearance? I thought secret clearances were good for 7 years?

    Could it be a special program requirement? Thanks!

  14. BB:

    Investigations (normally an NACLC) for Secret clearances are good for 10 years. Here are some possible reasons you have been asked to submit a new SF86:

    1. Your position is a Moderate- or High-Risk Public Trust position (with access to Secret info) and the agency you work for requires reinvestigations at 5-year intervals for the Public Trust aspect of your job.

    2. You are in a NATO staff position.

    3. You are the subject of an incident report and you have been requested to fill out a new SF86, so that a special investigative inquiry can be conducted to resolve the matter.

    4. You have access to a Secret level SAP (you would definitely know if you have such access) that originally required an SSBI (rather than the normal NACLC) and requires reinvestigations at 5-year intervals. There are specially “designated” Secret level SAPs that have the same investigative requirements as a Top Secret clearance.

  15. I have a similar situation to CommCtr. I too am awaiting an interim clearance for a position with Customs and Border Protection pending the granting of a Public Trust Security Clearance. I was recently told that I was put in “delay status” what causes this action and what does this mean? Does this mean that I will not be cleared for a clearance?

  16. I hope someone can help me. I recently was given a 30 day appeal process for a clearance denial. It is for public trust. The reason is at the time of the credit check,8/2006, it showed i had 6 accounts past due. However, 3 acccounts are current now, i have worked on 2 and agreed and are paying via payment plans, and the remaining one for 249.00 i have no clue what it is. I even searched the company on the web and have had no such luck finding the company. Of the reported 5600.00 past due, only 249.00 remain.

    My question is if i show them my most recent credit report showing this documentation, what are the chances i will win the appeal? Should i get an attorney now or wait to see if i win the appeal. I have received nothing but high marks on the job and feel my credit is up to date.

    Thanks for any help!

  17. Ryan,
    I received your question by email through my website and responded by email. I hope you have received it by now.

  18. I’m in need of a little reassurance, I work for a contracting company and there is a position I am interested in with a government agency. It requires Secret clearance. I am a naturalized citizen, my dad is a citizen but my mother is a permanent resident, and she just submitted her application for naturalization. How likely am I to be denied/granted this clearance?

    Thank you in advance for your replies.

  19. Sammy,
    For a collateral Secret clearance just having a parent who is not yet a US citizen rarely results in a clearance denial. Of course if you have significant ties to your native country (or some other foreign country) it becomes more complicated. Significant ties would include financial or business interests outside the U.S., close relatives or friends outside the U.S., dual citizenship, possession of a current foreign passport.

  20. Good Morning,

    I noticed that you never replied to my e-mail which was posted on 2/1 and I see that you have responded to several others?

  21. Pamela:
    I don’t know the answer to your question. I have never heard of a “delay status.” CBP contracts directly with private firms that provide investigative services and CBP manages their own cases. They don’t use the services of OPM.

  22. For reference: I have been in delay status for 7 months, myself. There is something about you they find worth not telling, you about for a “while”. It does get old but that’s the nature of the beast.

  23. David:
    Are you also being processed for a Public Trust position by CBP or is there a different agency and clearance involved? Can you answer Pamela’s question?

  24. Can’t answer Pamela’s question. I have no expertise other than what is stated.(Peanuts as a way to get a good old Ford.)

  25. Good Morning,

    Thanks for the reply. Thank God, the investigators are diligently working to do whatever needs to be done. I have had my face-to-face and I believe that all of my references have been interviewed. I don’t think my process will take too long since I am a Washingtonian and everything and everyone that needs to be verified or contacted are local.

  26. David,

    Have you had your face-to-face and have they contacted your references?

  27. Pamela,

    Yes. Everything has been checked and have had face-to-face last summer. Good Luck. There is needs-based.

  28. Hi David,

    Is your clearance for CBP and are all of your activities local? i.e., references, schools, etc. Also, are you still in delay status and have you heard anything yet?

  29. Pamela,

    yes, for same. But I put in for Montana. haha –Here’s why I think you will clear quickly:
    That pt test is one toughest, I’ve seen. As you passed it, not be a chauvinist, but I think they will have a hard time getting women candidates who can pass that(in sufficient numbers). They’ve definitely ramped it up. There other are candidates that are in a backlog fy ’06. On there are candidates talking. I’ve checked in and they’re having budget issues trying to get figured out by fy this time (next few). Me, I’m paying my bills and hunkering down like some of the candidates. Check
    them out.

    Mr. Henderson gives a higher level advice.

  30. This is an excellent blog and a great service. I have had a secret clearance for five years and recently went to Europe and married a foreign national (who is still there), and returned. She will be immigrating to the United States to become a citizen. I was not aware of any stipulations regarding reporting anything to my security officer at the DoD contract firm where I work. Upon my arrival at work, I was told to report to the Security Officer and have fully cooperated. Was I required to inform my Security Officer/Company before I left for Europe that I was going there to marry a foreign national? And what should I expect now?

  31. To add to my previous post, I traveled through non-sensitive countries, and my wife is a citizen of a non-sensitive country (Czech Republic).

  32. Patrick:
    There is a requirement in DoD 5200.2-R to self-report any potentially disqualifying condition as listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines. Your situation is arguably covered under “Foreign Influence.” I think that it is sufficient to report marriage to a foreign national as soon as it happens, not before (if premarital cohabitation is not involved), but apparently you FSO thinks differently. There is a good likelihood that you will be the subject of a limited investigation and be interviewed (SPIN) by an investigator regarding your trip, your new spouse and her relatives.

  33. William,

    Thanks for that info. Gives me something to look forward to! There should not be any issues with my wife or her family.

    Thank you again.

  34. Hi David,

    What is a pt test?

  35. how do they notify you on the status — approve/denied. Do they call you or send you something in the mail and are you contacted directly or do they contact the security person and they intern contact you or your company representative?

  36. Hello Pamela,

    Not sure of your position, as a contractor I am not in position to describe that process. Usually a background check involves contacting you by mail, or otherwise, if any issues remain. (PT step test is administered for CBP Officers.) The clearinghouse e-mail address is You can contact them and make sure your file has not been misplaced.

  37. Hi, My husband has been offered a DOD-related job and needs Secret clearance. I understand they will check his credit as apart of his background investigation. As his sposue, will they also check my credit report? Paperwork asked for my SSN#. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  38. KCasey:
    Obtaining a credit report on the spouse of an applicant is not a standard component of any federal suitability or security clearance investigation.

  39. Hi all – no particular question, just my experience. Filed SF-86 for secret in Oct 2005 and still waiting. Case went into adjudication Aug 2007 and returned back for further investigation. Second investigation closed end of Jan 2008. Now back in adjudication. Hopefully, I hear something soon after the 60 days pass by. I am foreign born. Came to the US in 2000. Received my citizenship in 2005. Renounced my other citizenship. Still have my foreign passport, just because the embassy here in the US won’t accept it. Never used the passport and have no intentions to use it. All my professional career has been in support of the US government in foreign assistance. Husband and kids are foreign born but all naturalized. They still have their dual citizenship. Have parents and a sibling living abroad, but they have no link to the foreign government. Parents are in their mid 70s, brother is in late 40s. Yes, for me 12 months wait is a dream never come true ….

  40. Back in September 07′, I received an email from my company stating that my Interim Top Secret clearance eligibility has been granted. Could there be any consequences or risk to losing my Interim TS if I got a job for another company in which they said they would sponsor my TS? Is this too risky?

    Thank you,

    David S

  41. Can you get a secret clearance with a DUI?

  42. Fred,

    You CAN get the secret clearance as long as you don’t lie about the details about the DUI. I also know a person who claims to have Secret clearance denied due to repeated offence of 3 DUI. However, I don’t know if there were other reasons.

  43. I’m an American citizen currently working in China right now and I am applying for a FSO position. I was wondering, what are my chances for security clearance if I’ve spent the past two and a half years studying and working in China? I’ve heard that it might disqualify me, even though it helped me learn Chinese fluently. Would the points added for speaking fluent Mandarin override living in China for almost 3 years?
    Also, on another note, in 2004, while in college, I was pulled over for a DUI. There was no property damage nor any injuries. I completed the necessary program, etc. Since then, I still drink some, but really not the same amount as I did when I was college. With these two factors, is it possible to still get clearance?