How ‘Foreign Influence’ Can Affect Your Security Clearance

If you are working for the federal government in any capacity and issued a security clearance, maintaining that security clearance is vital to keeping your job.

As far as the federal government is concerned – and understandably so – one of its biggest threats is foreign influence affecting the people who work for it. After all, what’s a government run for and by the people if those people are vulnerable to manipulation by foreign powers? As a consequence, foreign influence security concerns are among the main reasons why security clearances are revoked or never even granted.

What Counts As a Foreign Influence Security Concern?

Broadly speaking, a foreign influence security concern is any pressure point that a government employee may have that a foreign power could exploit to the detriment of the United States.

Foreign influence can range from having debt owed to a creditor in another country to having relatives who live overseas.

Below are a few specific issues that are considered to be foreign influence security concerns:

  • Contacts with foreign relatives, colleagues, or friends
  • Connections with foreign groups or governments with interests that may conflict with those of the federal government
  • Failing to report foreign contacts
  • Substantial business or financial interests in a foreign country
  • Unauthorized associated with a known or suspected foreign intelligence agent
  • Sharing a residence with individuals with ties to a foreign country

Again, the federal government’s primary concern is with whether or not a security clearance holder could be manipulated by foreign actors to provide classified information or do some other harm that affects the federal government’s interests.

Will I Be Denied If I Have Family Overseas?

While having family overseas is considered to be a foreign influence security concern, it’s not treated the same in all situations. Situations that present the greatest concern are those where security clearance holder’s relatives are living in a region experiencing conflict or are citizens of an adversary like Russia or China.

What Do I Do If My Clearance Is Denied or Revoked?

If you are denied a security clearance or yours is revoked because of concerns regarding foreign influence, you may be able to appeal the decision. This can be done with the help of an attorney who is experienced in security clearance matters, like one of ours at Claery & Hammond, LLP.

For more information about how we can help, contact us online!