Security Clearance Denials & Foreign Influence

When someone applies for security clearance, he or she must go through the Adjudicative Process, which examines a long period of the applicant’s life to determine if the individual is an “acceptable security risk.” In order for someone to gain access to classified information, he or she must meet strict personnel security guidelines. The Adjudicative Process goes over many aspects of a person’s life; it looks for any history of drug or alcohol abuse, any criminal convictions, sexual behavior, personal conduct, poor financial habits, mental health issues, discipline problems, and it even looks at the possibility of foreign influence under Guideline B of the Adjudicative Process.

Guideline B of the Adjudicative Process

According to the U.S. Department of State, “Foreign contacts and interests may be a security concern if the individual has divided loyalties or foreign financial interests.” The person may be a concern if he or she can be manipulated to help a foreign person, group, organization, or government entity in a way that endangers the United States.

When someone with foreign interests applies for security clearance, the foreign country’s identity, and its location will be carefully considered, especially if the country is known for targeting U.S. citizens or it’s associated with terrorism. The following can raise a safety concern and can disqualify an applicant:

  1. Contact with a relative, friend, business associate or another person who resides in a foreign country that is perceived as a threat to the United States.
  2. Connections to someone in a foreign country that presents a conflict of interest between the applicant’s duty to protect sensitive information and their desire to help the foreign country, group, or organization.
  3. Living with someone, regardless of immigration status, who is a risk to the United States due to possible foreign manipulation.
  4. The failure to report that one is living with a foreign national.

If you were denied security clearance because of any of the above, there may be conditions that would mitigate the security concerns; for example, perhaps there is no conflict of interest because the person’s long-standing loyalty to the U.S. and not the foreign country. Or, perhaps your contact with the foreign national is so infrequent, there is no risk of foreign influence.

Have you encountered roadblocks because of your ties to a foreign national? If so, we urge you to contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for help. With over 50 years of collective experience, we stand ready to help you get your security clearance issue resolved.