How to get a security clearance: A complete guide (2022)

This guide is all about how cybersecurity professionals can get a security clearance. Security clearances are an important facet of working in the cybersecurity industry and this guide will outline the different kinds of security clearances, what kinds of jobs require security clearances, and the process to follow to get a security clearance.

For the purposes of this article, a security clearance is an official determination that an individual may access some level of classified information, as determined by an agency of the United States government.

Of course, there are other types of security clearances issued by other governmental and non-governmental entities around the world, but as a practical matter, the scope of this discussion will be limited to that of clearances issued by agencies of the US federal government.

Security clearance overview

Everyone employed by the United States federal government undergoes a basic background investigation of their criminal and credit histories. This ensures that all federal employees are “reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States.”

Additionally, federal employment positions that include access to sensitive information require a security clearance. This includes individuals employed by private firms in the capacity of a contractor for the federal government. This clearance must be obtained to determine the applicant’s trustworthiness and reliability before granting them access to national security information.

Security clearances are structured in a hierarchical manner with each designation indicating the maximum level of classified information that may be accessed by the clearance holder. From least restrictive to most restrictive the classification levels are:

  • Confidential This type of security clearance provides access to information that may cause damage to national security if disclosed without authorization. It must be reinvestigated every 15 years.

    A confidential clearance requires a National Agency Check with Local Agency Check and Credit Check (NACLC).

  • Secret This type of security clearance provides access to information that may cause serious damage to national security if disclosed without authorization. It must be reinvestigated every 10 years.

    A secret clearance requires a NACLC and a Credit investigation; it must also be re-investigated every 10 years. Investigative requirements for Department of Defense (DoD) clearances, which apply to most civilian contractor situations, are contained in the Personnel Security Program issuance known as DoD Regulation 5200.2-R, at part C3.4.2.

  • Top Secret (TS) This type of security clearance provides access to information that may cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if disclosed without authorization. It must be reinvestigated every five years.

    Top Secret is a more stringent clearance. A TS clearance is often given as the result of a Single Scope Background Investigation, (SSBI). TS clearances, in general, afford one access to data that affects national security, counterterrorism/counterintelligence, or other highly sensitive data. There are far fewer individuals with TS clearances than Secret clearances. In most instances, an individual with Top Secret clearance undergoes a reinvestigation every five years.

Having obtained a certain level of security clearance does not mean that the clearance holder automatically has access to or is given access to information cleared for that clearance level. In order to legally handle classified information, the clearance holder must have a clear “need to know” in addition to the appropriate level of clearance for the information. Need to know is generally determined by a disclosure officer assigned to the office of origin for the classified information.

There are also two categories of classified information that require additional handling and access restrictions:

(Video) Understanding the Federal Security Clearance Process

  • Sensitive compartmented information (SCI), which includes intelligence sources, methods, and processes.

    As with a TS clearance, a SCI clearance is assigned only after the candidate has been through the rigors of an SSBI and a special adjudication process for evaluating the investigation. SCI access, however, is assigned only in “compartments”. These compartments are necessarily separated from each other with respect to the organization so that an individual with access to one compartment will not necessarily have access to another. Each compartment may include its own additional special requirements and clearance process. An individual may be granted access to, or read into, a compartment for any period of time.

  • Special access programs (SAPs), which are highly sensitive projects and programs.

    The DoD establishes SAPs when the vulnerability of specific information is considered exceptional and the normal rules for determining eligibility for access are not considered sufficient to protect the information. SAPs are typically employed to enhanced security measures that strictly enforce need-to-know. The number of people cleared for access to such programs is typically kept low. Information about new military technology, for example, frequently requires such special access.

These special categories are for classified information that has been deemed particularly vulnerable, and eligibility standards and investigative requirements for access to SCI and SAPs clearances are higher than for other clearances.

Security clearances are active only for the time when an individual holds the original job for which the clearance was designated. A clearance holder may be re-investigated at any time, but a formal review is required after the prescribed number of years.

A clearance may be reactivated in certain cases without going through the entire investigative process again. However, the break in the candidate’s employment must be less than two years and the original investigation cannot be more than 5, 10, or 15 years old for the top secret, secret, and confidential categories, respectively.

History of security clearances

The authority for classifying information and granting security clearances to access that information is found in Executive Orders (EOs) and US federal law. The origins of security clearances can be traced back to the Pendleton Act of 1883 which required applicants for federal employment to possess the requisite character, reputation, trustworthiness, and fitness for employment.

In 1941, Executive Order 8781 provided for the requirement that all federal employees be fingerprinted and investigated by the FBI and in 1948 the DoD unified the military security program and implemented standards and procedures similar to those put into effect for civilians under E.O. 9835.

Executive Order 10450 (1953) superseded E.O. 9835 and required investigations of federal employees to ascertain their reliability, trustworthiness, good conduct and character, and loyalty to the United States. It required that employment be “clearly consistent with the interest of national security.”

Currently, National Security Information (NSI) is classified under EO 13526 with some additional latitude provided by Security Executive Agent Directive 4, National Security Adjudicative Guidelines.

Jobs that require a security clearance

Many federal agencies and federal contractors working with those agencies necessarily require their employees to hold security clearances in order to do their job.

The need for a security clearance is dictated by a necessity to handle sensitive or classified information rather than a specific job description.

(Video) Insider's Guide to the Security Clearance Process

Regardless of the job description, employment within certain government agencies is more likely to require a security clearance. Employment within a government-secured facility also requires a security clearance. Examples of agencies that may require higher levels of clearance include:

Anyone having access to classified data requires clearance at or higher than the level at which the data they must handle is classified. For this reason, security clearances are required for a wide range of jobs, from senior management to janitorial. Positions that may require a security clearance include secretaries, security officers, librarians, system administrators, and computer-support personnel who have access to classified documents or systems.

The December 2017 United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report to Congress states, “As of October 1, 2015, the latest date for which data are available, approximately 4.2 million government and contractor employees, at nearly 80 executive branch agencies, were eligible to hold a security clearance.”

The process for obtaining a security clearance

Before the process for obtaining a security clearance can even begin there must exist a verifiable need for the individual seeking the clearance to hold one. While companies with contracts or grants with the federal government may require employees to have a security clearance, no company without a contract with the federal government can independently seek a security clearance.

Only people employed by a federal agency or federal contractor can obtain a security clearance.

Once the agency or contractor selects a candidate to hire, the applicant will receive a job offer that may be contingent upon successfully obtaining a security clearance. An extensive background investigation takes place after the offer has been accepted and the required forms have been completed.

The scope of the background investigation needed depends on the position’s requirements as well as the level of security clearance needed for the position. This process can take several months or up to a year depending on the backlog, need for more information, depth of the investigation process and other factors.

Executive Order 10450 states in part, “The scope of the investigation shall be determined… according to the degree of adverse effect the occupant of the position sought to be filled could bring about, by virtue of the nature of the position, on the national security, but in no event shall the investigation include less than a national agency check (including a check of the fingerprint files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and written inquiries to appropriate local law-enforcement agencies, former employers and supervisors, references, and schools attended by the person under investigation.”

The length of time required to obtain a security clearance is growing and is a significant concern for federal agencies and contractors. Some instances wherein individuals would take longer than normal to be investigated are many past residences, having residences in foreign countries, having relatives outside the United States, or significant ties with non-US citizens.

If a hiring office requests an interim security clearance, an applicant may be granted an interim security clearance within a few weeks after submitting a complete security package. According to the Defense Security Service (an agency of the Department of Defense), all applicants for a personnel security clearance submitted by a cleared contractor will be routinely considered for interim eligibility. The interim eligibility is issued only when access to classified information is clearly consistent with the national security interests of the United States. The interim eligibility is issued at the same time as the initiation of the investigation and will generally remain in effect until the investigation is completed. At that time, the applicant is considered for final eligibility.

If an applicant feels they are a serious candidate for a position that requires a security clearance they may accelerate the process by gathering relevant information prior to receiving a job offer from the hiring agency or contractor. The hiring agency or contractor can direct the applicant to the appropriate forms for the level of clearance required for the position for which they are being considered.

(Video) How to Prepare for Security Clearance Interview | Federal Background Check | Get a Federal Job

The security clearance background investigation

The central component in the process of obtaining a security clearance is the background investigation. The process begins with the applicant registering and completing the appropriate forms through the U.S. Offices of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) application web site. The next phase of the process involves an investigation conducted by the OPM, the DoD, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or another investigation service provider (ISP), depending on the position.

There are five tiers of investigation standards that apply to applications for security clearances. The specific tier of investigation that is appropriate for a given candidate is determined by the classification and the risk associated with the information that the applicant will need to handle. The OPM e-QIP form needed for each tier is delineated in the table below.

Tier 1Low Risk, Non-Sensitive, including HSPD-12 CredentialingForm SF85
Tier 2Moderate Risk Public Trust (MRPT)Form SF85P
Tier 3Non-Critical Sensitive National SecurityForm SF86
Tier 4High-Risk Public Trust (HRPT)Form SF85P
Tier 5Critical Sensitive and Special Sensitive National Security, including Top Secret, and SCIForm SF86

The e-QIP form used for sensitive or national security positions is the SF-86 as indicated in Tier 3 and Tier 5 investigation standards. SF85 and SF85P are suitable for work in government agency positions requiring public trust rather than national security concerns.

In addition to and after the verification of the answers to the questions posed by the OPM e-QIP form, many investigations will include an interview as a routine part of the investigation process. The applicant may be asked to answer questions related to their completed form. This helps the investigator gain clarity about incomplete or unclear answers on the form. Declining the interview may result in the investigation, and related security clearance application, being canceled.

In addition to the questions on these forms, the investigator may also make an inquiry about the applicant’s adherence to security requirements, their honesty and integrity, their possible vulnerability to exploitation or coercion, or any other behavior that could potentially demonstrate that the candidate is not reliable, trustworthy, or loyal to the US Government.

The Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) conducts personnel security background investigations for the Department of State and other federal agencies. DSS describes the background investigation process as including these steps:

  • A job candidate receives a conditional offer of employment and completes and submits the appropriate form – either a Questionnaire for National Security Positions, Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions, or Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions – and other required forms to the appropriate hiring office.
  • The hiring office reviews and submits the completed questionnaire and other required forms – known as the security package – to DSS.
  • DSS reviews the security package and formally opens a background investigation.
  • DSS conducts records and fingerprint checks against commercial and government databases.
  • DSS verifies and corroborates key information and events from the candidate’s past and recent history. This may include interviews of people who know the candidate well. The investigator may conduct a face-to-face interview with the candidate as part of the process.
  • After the investigation is complete, DSS adjudicates and determines the candidate’s national security eligibility according to the Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 4: National Security Adjudicative Guidelines.
  • In some cases, background investigations may be forwarded to a Department of State Human Resources suitability panel.
  • After determining the candidate’s national security eligibility, DSS contacts the appropriate hiring authority.

The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony that may result in fines and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment.

In addition, federal agencies generally fire, do not grant a security clearance, or disqualify individuals who have materially and deliberately falsified these forms, and this remains a part of the permanent record for future placements.

The Defense Security Service issues the following statuses throughout the investigation to let candidates know what is happening during the process:

  • Received The investigative service provider (ISP) has acknowledged receipt of the investigation request and will be reviewing it for acceptability.
  • Unacceptable The ISP determined the investigation request to be deficient. The applicant will then receive a message with the reason why the request was rejected. If the employee still requires a clearance, a new investigation request will need to be initiated and submitted with the corrected information.
  • Scheduled The ISP has determined the investigation request to be acceptable and the investigation is currently ongoing/open.
  • Closed The ISP has completed the investigation and the investigation has been sent for adjudication.

Why an applicant may be denied a security clearance

Various reasons exist for why an applicant may be denied a security clearance. The primary considerations in an investigation are the individual’s honesty, candor, and thoroughness in the completion of their security clearance forms.

Every effort is made to determine whether the granting or continuing eligibility for a security clearance is consistent with the interests of national security. A wide variety of factors may be investigated.

The scope of a security clearance background investigation is likely to include the following personal characteristics, proclivities, and behavior. Any indication that the applicant may have substantial problems in any of these areas will likely raise a flag indicating a need for further investigation and possible denial of the clearance.

(Video) How to Get a Security Clearance

  • Allegiance to the United States
  • Potential for foreign influence
  • A foreign preference
  • Sexual behavior
  • Personal conduct
  • Financial considerations
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Drug involvement and substance misuse
  • Emotional, mental, and personality disorders
  • Criminal conduct
  • Handling protected information
  • Outside activities
  • Misuse of information technology

Unpaid bills, as well as criminal charges, will often disqualify an applicant for approval. However, bankruptcy will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is not an automatic disqualifier. Poor financial history is the number-one cause of rejection, and foreign activities and criminal records are also common causes for disqualification.

It is noteworthy that investigators may consider publicly available social media information in connection with an application for a security clearance. Security Executive Agent Directive 5, Collection, Use, and Retention of Publicly Available Social Media Information in Personnel Security Background Investigations and Adjudications, codifies federal background investigative authority to incorporate publicly available social media information in the security clearance process.

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, this policy allows investigators to consider an applicant’s history on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other similar sites.

These guidelines make plain that agencies can target publicly available social media posts, if they deem it necessary, but cannot force people to hand over their passwords for private accounts or provide pseudonyms for any profiles.

The policy states that social media data collected as part of a background check will not be retained unless it is considered “relevant” to the security standing of the person in question.

Resources for obtaining a security clearance

Guidelines and updates related to security clearances from the U.S. Department of State.

The Government’s web-based portal for accessing Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) forms.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel Security Program Regulation.

Guide for the Standard Form (SF) 86.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.


How do I get a full security clearance? ›

Obtaining a Security Clearance
  1. Applicants must go through the application phase, which involves verification of US citizenship, fingerprinting and completion of the Personnel Security Questionnaire (SF-86).
  2. The Defense Security Service conducts thorough background checks.

What should I write for security clearance? ›

How to list a security clearance on a resume
  • The specific details of your work, particularly sensitive data relating to them.
  • The names of projects or missions you worked on.
  • The names or details of classified applications or tools you used.
  • The names of specific locations associated with your clearance.
18 Aug 2021

What questions are you asked for a security clearance? ›

Questions about experience and background

Can you tell me about your law enforcement experience? Have you ever held a security clearance before? Have you ever had access to classified or top-secret information before? What do you consider your most important technical skills?

Why did I fail my security clearance? ›

Incomplete Application Or Missing Information

This is a more common reason to fail a security clearance than you may think. You also need to include any documents they ask for, such as birth certificate, utility bills, or anything else that proves your identity.

How far back does a secret clearance go? ›

The clearance process for Secret level access uses an investigation called the National Agency Check with Law and Credit that goes back five years, while the clearance process for Top Secret uses a Single Scope Background Investigation that goes back ten years.

How hard is it to get a security clearance? ›

Those who have gone through the security clearance process understand the significant headaches involved in both the initial background investigation as well as periodic reinvestigations. Obtaining a security clearance is no easy task, and not everyone who applies will be granted access.

Can I tell people I have a Top Secret clearance? ›

The fact that you have a security clearance is not classified, so there's no reason you can't tell someone you have a security clearance. In fact, the State Department and other government agencies advise applicants who have a clearance to include this information on their resumes.

What are the 5 levels of security clearance? ›

  • 3.2.1 Controlled Unclassified.
  • 3.2.2 Public Trust Position.
  • 3.2.3 Confidential.
  • 3.2.4 Secret.
  • 3.2.5 Top Secret.
  • 3.2.6 Compartmented.

How long does it take to get a security clearance 2022? ›

A: It depends on the type of clearance required, but the security clearance process is generally completed within 4--‐‑8 weeks.

What kind of questions do background investigators ask? ›

Background investigators may ask about the relationships of a prospective candidate, or their performance in previous positions. You may also seek information about other qualities, such as integrity, honesty, attention to detail, or punctuality.

How do you answer a security clearance question on an application? ›

Some Jobs Are Top Secret

The employer might also run current reference checks or require security-related interviews. If you've never held a government-issued security clearance, answer the question with a simple "no."

What is checked in SC clearance? ›

Checks on criminal records, credit and financial history, and Security Service records. A review of work history, including personal files, staff reports, sick leave returns and security records.

What percentage of people get denied security clearance? ›

But don't lose heart – 20-30% of all interim security clearances are denied, but that is vastly different than the figure of final clearance denials, which hovers around 1%.

What disqualifies a security clearance? ›

You were dishonorably discharged from the military. You are currently involved in illegal drug use. You have been judged as mentally incompetent or mentally incapacitated by a mental health professional. You have had a clearance revoked for security reasons.

What happens if you are denied a security clearance? ›

If you are unsuccessful, you will be barred from reapplying for a security clearance for an additional 12-month period, and risk further setbacks to your career.

What shows up on a security clearance background check? ›

Credit and criminal history checks will be conducted on all applicants. For a Top Secret security clearance, the background investigation includes additional record checks which can verify citizenship for the applicant and family members, verification of birth, education, employment history, and military history.

What security clearance goes back 7 years? ›

The SF-86 form requests information back 7 years for employment and residence; however, to comply with the investigative standards, 10 years is required.

Can your spouse affect your security clearance? ›

Hardly. Previous questions have included if a spouse being listed on the sex offender registry for a decade-old arrest or if a jail stint would affect the applicant's security clearance. Those issues would likely only be an issue of the applicant was involved in some way.

Do you have to have good credit to get a security clearance? ›

Credit scores are not specifically mentioned in the Code of Regulations as being examined by the Diplomatic Security Service. So when it comes to obtaining your security clearance, there isn't a clear “cut off” point or range for acceptable credit scores.

What happens after security clearance interview? ›

Once you complete the the questionnaire, the document is sent to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) DCSA is responsible for verifying the information and performing the actual background investigation. The level of investigation depends upon the level of access to be granted.

What is the highest level of security clearance? ›

How many types or levels of security clearance are there? There are three levels of security clearance, with the highest level being Top Secret. Secret is the next level of clearance and Confidential is the final.

How many US citizens have top secret clearance? ›

The 1.3 million individuals with Top Secret clearances are supporting a wide variety of missions, from the CIA to the Department of Commerce.

Is it OK to put your security clearance on LinkedIn? ›

In most cases, you should not put your security clearance in your LinkedIn profile. Due to national security issues, and personal security threats, publicizing your clearance status makes it easy to target you and exploit the information you have about the project you are supporting.

What is a Tier 5 investigation? ›

Tier 5 – Top Secret Security Clearance

As the highest level of security clearance, applicants can expect a more rigorous examination. If approved, this clearance gives cleared personnel access to information or material that could cause disastrous damage to national security. Tier 5 is the only tier in this category.

What is a Level 1 security clearance? ›

Security Clearance Level 1: Top Secret

Top Secret clearance holders have access to information or material that could be expected to cause significant damage to national security if released with proper authorization.

What is a Tier 1 clearance? ›

Tier 1 is the investigation for positions designated as low-risk, non-sensitive. It is also the minimum level of investigation for a final credentialing determination for physical and logical access.

What is level 6 security clearance? ›

A level 6C security clearance is a Public Trust Position clearance required for federal employees and contractors who will have access to classified information, computer systems or restricted areas where the risk and magnitude of damage that could be done by the employee is high.

Who do they interview for security clearance? ›

For a secret clearance in a national security position, the investigation requires agents to interview people who have lived or worked with the applicant at some point in the past seven years, or sometimes farther back.

How long is e-QIP good for? ›

How Long is a EQIP Contract? The length of an EQIP contract can vary depending on your goals and timeline, but cannot exceed 10 years.

What happens after submitting e-QIP? ›

After your eQIP account has been initiated, you will receive an email notification from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) containing your eQIP Registration Code (14 characters). You can then access the eQIP website and register.

What do background investigators ask previous employers? ›

Specifically, the background check company will ask about positions and titles, dates of employment, job responsibilities, salaries, reason(s) that the candidate left the job, and eligibility for rehire.

What do you wear to meet a background investigator? ›

Honestly, it doesn't matter what you wear. The investigator will make no comments, jot no notes and not report your attire. You really don't need to dress to impress.

Do police background checks look at Internet history? ›

Security clearance background investigators do not check your browsing history, read your emails, surveil your every move, bug your telephones, or photograph you commuting to work.

Can you work while waiting for security clearance? ›

Employees who are indefinitely suspended due to a security clearance adjudication can apply for and work other jobs while they are waiting on their security clearance decision.

Can I put NSA on my resume? ›

1. It's perfectly okay to specify that you have a clearance, as well as clearance type. It's also okay to list polygraph information and dates on your resume, according to intelligence agency resume guidelines, including those provided by the National Security Agency.

Does a Top Secret clearance help get a job? ›

The highest levels of clearance can lead to even higher salaries. The Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area also reported that employees with top secret security clearance could earn up to 60% more than those without top secret clearance in certain jobs.

How do you fail vetting? ›

You'll also most likely be declined vetting clearance if any of the following apply to you:
  1. You've committed offences where vulnerable people were targeted.
  2. You've committed offences motivated by hate or discrimination.
  3. You've committed offences of domestic abuse.
  4. You have an outstanding County Court Judgement (CCJ)

How long does an SC clearance take? ›

Security Clearance (SC): New checks minimum six weeks, averaging six weeks. Developed Vetting (DV): New checks minimum 18 weeks.

Does SC clearance include credit check? ›

The Security Check process includes an examination of your credit and financial history with a credit reference agency, which will show if you have had debt problems in the past, if you have a poor credit score and if you have been the subject of action such as a county court judgement.

Will being fired affect security clearance? ›

In today's volatile job market, it's important to remember that being let go from a contract or fired for company reasons (not punitive ones) clearly has no bearing on your security clearance eligibility.

How do you obtain a secret security clearance? ›

How to get a security clearance
  1. Submit an application. The first step in the security clearance process is the initial job application. ...
  2. Undergo the investigation portion. ...
  3. Start the interim eligibility period. ...
  4. Follow status updates for your application.

What stops you from getting a clearance? ›

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
  • Driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, or other criminal incidents related to alcohol use;
  • Reporting for work or duty in an intoxicated or impaired condition, or drinking on the job;

What can hurt a security clearance? ›

From drug or alcohol dependence, to falsifying information on your application and problematic work history could all fall under the “personal conduct” category and result in a denial of your security clearance application.

What questions are asked for a security clearance? ›

Can you tell me about your law enforcement experience? Have you ever held a security clearance before? Have you ever had access to classified or top-secret information before? What do you consider your most important technical skills?

How soon can you reapply for security clearance? ›

Federal contractors, civilian government employees and military personnel can reapply for a security clearance after a period of one year. Don't be discouraged by a previous denial. It's no big deal to reapply; it happens successfully all of the time. Don't close the door to cleared job opportunities.

What are the 5 levels of security clearance? ›

  • 3.2.1 Controlled Unclassified.
  • 3.2.2 Public Trust Position.
  • 3.2.3 Confidential.
  • 3.2.4 Secret.
  • 3.2.5 Top Secret.
  • 3.2.6 Compartmented.

How much does it cost to get SC clearance UK? ›

How much does SC clearance cost? The 2015 estimated cost to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to screen a person through SC was £56.02. It would help if you contacted the vetting Agency to determine if the charges are still the same.

How long does it take to get SC clearance? ›

How long does national security vetting take? Counter Terrorist Check (CTC): New checks minimum six weeks, averaging six weeks. Security Clearance (SC): New checks minimum six weeks, averaging six weeks. Developed Vetting (DV): New checks minimum 18 weeks.

Who is eligible for SC clearance? ›

Understanding Security Check clearances

To receive SC clearance, a candidate will need to have been a UK resident for at least five years and undergo the following: Completion of BPSS. A full security questionnaire. Checks on criminal records, credit and financial history, and Security Service records.

Why would a security clearance be denied UK? ›

The five reasons to fail a security clearance UK include financial disparities, missing information, unverified job gaps, criminal record, and failure to meet the UK residency criteria. Luckily, you may qualify for an appeal if your SC consent is rejected or withdrawn.

How long does SC clearance take 2022 UK? ›

The clearance process can take between 1-3 months to complete prior to the candidate starting work. Gaining SC Clearance will normally require you to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of five years.

Does SC require interview? ›

Interviews are held for higher levels of clearance such as the DV and occasionally CTC or SC level. The face to face interview will be conducted by a vetting officer. The interview is to gain an overview of you as an individual, your character and to assess your capabilities to handle sensitive information.

Who makes decision on security clearance? ›

Who issues the Security Clearance? There are dozens of Government agencies that issue security clearances. DoD civilians, contractors and military personnel account for about 88 percent of all security clearances. Almost all DoD clearances are issued by the DoD Consolidated Adjudications Facility (CAF).

Can you get SC clearance with a criminal record? ›

Do criminal convictions preclude security clearances? If a serious conviction comes to light during the pre-vetting process, you'll either fail to progress further or be told it's not worth continuing. Otherwise, your caution or conviction will be assessed with reference to a number of factors.

Why does security clearance take so long? ›

The security clearance process is very dependent upon several factors – foreign influence and frequent moves are two of the factors that are more likely to delay the process. The other issue (and one that security clearance-holders can affect) is making sure your security clearance application is accurate.

What happens after security clearance interview? ›

Once you complete the the questionnaire, the document is sent to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) DCSA is responsible for verifying the information and performing the actual background investigation. The level of investigation depends upon the level of access to be granted.

What is the highest level of security clearance? ›

How many types or levels of security clearance are there? There are three levels of security clearance, with the highest level being Top Secret. Secret is the next level of clearance and Confidential is the final.

What is the security clearance process? ›

Although the process involves a number of stages, the key steps to obtaining and maintaining a security clearance are (1) agency sponsorship and submission of clearance application materials; (2) a background investigation, the extent of which may vary by level of clearance; and (3) adjudication to determine whether an ...


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