Tips to Obtaining Security Clearance 2020 Latest Update
What is a security clearance for employment, and how do you get one? In this article, all your questions about obtaining security clearance in 2020 have been answered below.
What is Security Clearance?
A security clearance is a security background investigation which if passed, grants you access to classified information. It is run by the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), and it determines your security eligibility.
Certain department state positions will require you to review classified information as part of your job. A security clearance is the background check which gives you clearance to review such classified information.
It is required because if the job you’re applying for requests a security clearance, it means you’ll be viewing highly sensitive information.
Whether or not a job will require security clearance will be determined by the hiring officials. Getting security clearance is not a process you would initiate on your own, rather it’s only triggered when required by the organization.
Obtaining security clearance is common with US Government jobs, as the DSS conducts more than 38,000 personnel actions each year! It is important to note that only U.S. citizens can apply for security clearance in the U.S.
Who Needs a Security Clearance?
When you’re applying for a federal government job, the background check process will start after you have accepted a tentative job offer. The job offer will be conditional on you obtaining the required clearance.2
You will need to answer questions about where you’ve lived, worked, gone to school, and any military history or police records. For jobs that require a security clearance, you’ll need to provide a minimum of 10 years of personal information.3
For private-sector jobs, candidates who have active or current security clearance are in demand for positions in many industries.
Software developers, engineers, and applicants with proficiency in foreign languages are sought after by employers.
If the applicant doesn’t have a current clearance, and one is required for the job, the application process would be the same as for a federal government or defense contractor job.
How long does this take?
Given the level of background investigation required for a clearance check, it is possible that obtaining your security clearance can take a long time. Depending on the level of clearance you require, it could take anywhere from three weeks to twelve months.
It’s common for the process to get delayed as well, due to the submission of incomplete forms and information, poorly collected fingerprints, and investigations that involve coverage of extensive overseas activities. Given the amount of detailed information required for the investigation, remember to go through all the necessary paperwork thoroughly. Dot your I’s and cross your t’s!
What should I expect in the process?
Once you accept your new role, you’ll be required to fill out and submit a set of forms to the hiring office. The hiring office will then send this set of forms, also known as the “security package” to the DSS.
Once this package is received, the investigation is opened, and the DSS will conduct a record and fingerprint checks. They will also verify key facts and events that have been listed in your history through face-to-face interviews with people in your life (colleagues, friends, neighbors, etc.).
When this portion of the investigation is complete, they will determine your national security eligibility according to National Security Adjudicative Guidelines. Once the DSS has determined your national security eligibility, the hiring authorities will be notified and you will be informed!
What are some major reasons for getting denied?
There are situations where your application can be denied or revoked. Financial considerations, personal conduct (like falsifying information), criminal conduct, and having ties to foreign governments are all reasons that one might be denied a security clearance.
Each individual case is assessed using the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines to determine whether or not the individual will be granted a level of clearance.
What factors are considered?
National security eligibility determinations take into account a person’s:
- Unquestionable loyalty to the U.S.
What factors may not be considered?
In making a national security eligibility determination, the federal government does not discriminate on the basis of:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
Negative conclusions cannot be made solely on the basis of mental health counseling.
DSS considers all available, reliable information about a person – past and present, favorable and unfavorable – when reaching a national security eligibility determination.
Statuses in the Review Process
The Defense Security Service issues the following statuses throughout the investigation to let candidates know what is happening during the process:
- Received: The ISP has acknowledged receipt of the investigation request and will be reviewing it for acceptability.
- Unacceptable: The ISP determined the investigation request to be deficient. The applicant will then receive a message with the reason why the request was rejected. If the employee still requires a clearance, a new investigation request will need to be initiated and submitted with the corrected information.
- Scheduled: The ISP has determined the investigation request to be acceptable, and the investigation is currently ongoing/open.
- Closed: The ISP has completed the investigation, and it has been sent for adjudication.
DSS shall grant national security eligibility only when the information demonstrates that such eligibility is clearly consistent with the interests of the United States. Any doubt shall be resolved in favor of U.S. national security.
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