Security Clearance FAQs

Do you have questions about security clearances? If so, we encourage to read our frequently asked questions and answers below. If you need further information, or if you have questions about filing an appeal, please don't hesitate to contact our security clearance lawyers.

Q. Can I apply for a security clearance on my own?
A. No, you cannot. The Bureau of Human Resources decides if a Department of State position should require a security clearance, and this decision is based on the position and its responsibilities. Employees cannot determine when this process takes place.

Q. If a job requires access to classified information, will I be subjected to a background check?
A. If a position requires that you have access to classified information, then yes, you will be subjected to a personnel security background investigation. However, this will only happen after you have been given a "conditional offer of employment."

Q. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to receive a security clearance?
A. According to Executive Order 12968, only U.S. citizens will be granted access to classified information. However, there are limited exceptions, specifically in cases where a foreign national employee may have a special expertise that is needed for a contract, license, project, or grant etc.

Q. Why do I need a security clearance?
A. Security clearances exist to ensure that a person is willing and capable of protecting classified national security information. The individual's worthiness is examined by investigating their character, track record, reputation, trustworthiness etc.

Q. Is there more than one level of security clearance?
A. Yes, there are three levels of security clearance: 1) Top Secret, 2) Secret, and 3) Confidential, with Top Secret being the highest level.

Q. Can my clearance be transferred to another federal agency?
A. Generally (but not always), one federal agency will accept another agency's background investigation for the purpose of granting a security clearance, assuming the investigation was conducted within the previous 5 years for a Top Secret Clearance and 10 years for a Secret clearance, and you did not have an interruption in service longer than 2 years.

Q. Can my security clearance be transferred to the private sector?
A. Security clearances apply to the federal government, and as explained under Executive Order 12968, Access to Classified Information, they are granted to occupations that specifically deal with government agencies and related employment.

Speak to a Nationwide Security Clearance Lawyer

If you have further questions about security clearances, our legal team would be glad to answer them for you. For the legal guidance you need, contact a security clearance attorney at Claery & Hammond, LLP today!