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Security Clearance Process

Learn more about the security clearance process involved with intelligence careers.

Security clearance process information

If you receive a conditional job offer, you must go through our suitability and security clearance process. All potential employees must complete this process to obtain a final job offer from an agency in the Intelligence Community.

What we're looking for

During this process, we will examine your life history to make sure you meet the standards to safeguard the nation's secrets, including your:

  • Loyalty to the United States
  • Strength of character
  • Trustworthiness
  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Discretion and soundess of judgment

We also make sure you:

  • Are free from conflicting allegiances to other countries.
  • Are not a potential risk for blackmail.
  • Will abide by regulations governing the use, handling and protection of sensitive information.

Our process

The process may vary across agencies—some agencies may not require you to go through all steps. The entire process takes, on average, 9-12 months and having a security clearance already may not speed up the process.
Receive a conditional offer of employment

You can only start the process after you receive a conditional offer.

Complete Standard Form 86 (SF-86)

You will need to complete SF-86. Once you submit the SF-86, the security team will review it and contact you for more information.

Take a polygraph

Some agencies require you to take a polygraph test. You may be asked about involvement in criminal activity or illegal drugs, falsifying security forms and involvement in espionage, sabotage, terrorist activities or compromising classified information.

Get a psychological or medical evaluation

Some agencies may require a psychological or medical exam. Contact the hiring agency for guidelines and more information.

Perform credit check and National Agency Check (NAC)

A credit check is a review of your Credit Bureau Report. We will also perform a NAC.

Conduct background investigation

The background investigation helps determine your stability, trustworthiness, reliability, discretion, character, honesty, judgment and unquestioned loyalty to the United States. If you have undergone a background investigation with another agency in the last seven years, we may use that investigation or request an updated investigation.

During this step, we will:

  • Verify your previous and current employment, education and residences.
  • Interview your friends, neighbors, supervisors and co-workers.
  • Conduct a personal interview with you to review the security forms and help us determine your eligibility for a security clearance.
Adjudicate and final job offer

If you successfully complete this process, we can adjudicate your eligibility for a security clearance so you can receive a final job offer.

Am I qualified for a security clearance?

You must be, among other requirements, stable, trustworthy, reliable, discreet, have excellent character and sound judgment and be unquestionably loyal to the United States. We use the 13 Adjudicative Criteria outlined in Security Executive Agenct Directive 4 (SEAD 4) to determine eligibility for access to classified information.

We determine your eligibility for a security clearance against the following:

  • Drug involvement
  • Criminal conduct
  • Financial considerations
  • Use of information technology systems
  • United States allegiance
  • Foreign influence
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Psychological conditions and personal behavior
  • Handling protected information

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