If you are a federal employee or contractor, or someone who wishes to work for the federal government, you may need to obtain a security clearance to begin work or keep your job.
If you are concerned about being denied clearance, understand that this process doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems to be. There are many reasons why people are denied security clearances, and we’ve selected a few below for you to review. That said, you shouldn’t disqualify yourself before the federal government has done so.
While you may think you’d automatically be put out of the running because of something in your past, your best bet for obtaining a security clearance is to be as honest as possible with your application and interviews.
Security Clearances Are Denied for These 5 Common Reasons
Without further delay, let’s get into some of the top reasons why security clearances are denied.
1. You Have a Criminal History
If you have ever been arrested for or convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, be prepared for a denial of your security clearance. If you can demonstrate that a sufficient passage of time has occurred and that your behavior has changed, however, the federal government may be willing to overlook your criminal history.
Never lie about or downplay something that happened in the past. Those who are investigating your background have access to all of the information they need to find out about your criminal history. If you are anything but honest, you can trigger a denial of your security clearance.
2. You Have Used Drugs
Another frequent cause for security clearance denials is drug use. Plenty of states are taking action to decriminalize or legalize certain drugs deemed illegal by the federal government. Even if you used a drug that is legal in your state, you may be denied a security clearance if it is banned by the federal government.
3. Your Potential for Foreign Influence
When you hold a security clearance as a federal employee or contractor, your allegiance to the United States must be unquestionable. That’s why those who may be considered to be under a foreign influence are denied security clearances. Risk factors for denial for this reason include having friends, associates, and travel plans that draw scrutiny from investigators.
4. Your Personal Conduct
Another common reason for security clearance deniable is having questionable personal conduct. Someone who is willing to lie on the security clearance application or fail to disclose important details can cause someone to be deemed unreliable.
5. You Have Bad Credit or Significant Debt
You might not think that your financial situation should have a bearing on whether or not you receive a security clearance, but there’s a good reason for it. The federal government perceives those who are financially struggling to become security risks because they are more likely to accept bribes or be manipulated to provide access to sensitive or classified information.