The Top Five Important Aspects of Security Clearance

Security clearance is vital to many governmental and government contractor positions, granting individuals access to classified information essential for national security and sensitive operations. It ensures that only trustworthy and dependable individuals handle privileged information.

Individuals seeking or maintaining clearance should recognize the critical aspects of security clearance. Failure to comprehend the intricacies of the clearance process, eligibility criteria, and ongoing requirements can jeopardize one's ability to obtain or retain clearance, thus hindering career advancement and opportunities in fields requiring access to classified information. Moreover, a lack of awareness regarding the nuances of security clearance can lead to inadvertent errors or omissions in the application process, resulting in delays or denials.

Navigating the complexities of the security clearance process can be daunting, especially when faced with legal challenges. Seeking the guidance of a security clearance attorney is beneficial in comprehending the critical factors involved, complying with stringent requirements, and addressing issues that may arise during the application or adjudication process. A lawyer can provide personalized guidance tailored to your circumstances, assist in preparing thorough and compelling documentation to support your clearance application, and advocate on your behalf in the event of denials or revocations.

At Claery & Hammond, LLP, our team helps individuals nationwide navigate the intricacies of the security clearance process. Contact us at (877) 362-3176.

Investigation Process

The cornerstone of the security clearance investigation process lies in meticulous background checks. These checks examine an applicant's personal, professional, and financial history to assess their suitability for access to classified information.

Reviewing Standard Form 86

Standard Form 86 (SF-86) is the primary document for gathering comprehensive information from applicants.

It requires individuals to disclose details such as:

  • Employment history
  • Residence
  • Education
  • Foreign travel
  • Financial records
  • Involvement with law enforcement

Conducting Interviews

During the investigation, thorough scrutiny of the information provided in the SF-86 is conducted to verify its truthfulness and uncover any inconsistencies. Interviews are an opportunity to clarify discrepancies identified in the background check and gather additional information to assess an applicant's suitability for clearance. While not every applicant may be required to undergo a face-to-face interview, those with complex backgrounds or significant discrepancies in their SF-86 may be subject to this step.

Clearance Levels and Eligibility Criteria

Security clearances are categorized into Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Each level denotes the sensitivity of the information an individual is granted access to and the potential damage to national security if that information were to be disclosed.

Below, we expand on the distinguishing characteristics between the levels:

  • Confidential: This level of clearance grants access to information that, if disclosed, could cause damage to national security. It is the least restrictive level of clearance.
  • Secret: Secret clearance provides access to information that, if revealed, could cause serious damage to national security. It is a mid-level clearance, more sensitive than Confidential clearance.
  • Top Secret: Top Secret clearance is the highest level of clearance and grants access to information that, if exposed, could result in grave damage to national security. It is the most restrictive level of clearance.

The level of clearance an individual applies for is typically determined by the duties and responsibilities of the position they have been offered.

Adjudication Process

During adjudication, investigators evaluate the results of background checks and interviews in conjunction with the adjudicative guidelines. These guidelines serve as a framework for assessing an applicant's stability, trustworthiness, reliability, character, and judgment.

Several factors influence clearance decisions, and each case is evaluated on its merits. Key considerations include:

Maintenance of Clearance

Maintaining security clearance involves a continuous evaluation process wherein individuals holding clearance are subject to periodic reinvestigations. The frequency of these reinvestigations varies depending on the level of security clearance held. Typically, individuals with higher clearance levels, such as Top Secret, undergo more frequent reinvestigations than those with lower clearance levels.

Individuals are notified by the agency when their security clearance is due for renewal. It is essential to adhere to the timelines and promptly submit any required documentation or information requested during the renewal process to avoid potential lapses in clearance status.

Agencies perform periodic reviews of an individual's background, conduct, and other relevant factors to verify ongoing suitability for clearance. These reviews may involve updated background checks, interviews, and assessments of any changes in circumstances that may impact clearance eligibility.

Retaining Legal Help Throughout the Security Clearance Process

At Claery & Hammond, LLP, we understand individuals' challenges when dealing with security clearance matters. Our experienced team provides comprehensive legal support and guidance to clients nationwide. Whether you're seeking assistance with initial clearance applications, facing challenges in maintaining clearance, or need representation in appealing denials, we're here to help.

Contact us today at (877) 362-3176 to schedule a consultation.