Resources for the Clearance Holder or Applicant

Commonly Asked Questions

Answers to some of the most common questions we hear from clients and issues addressed by adjudicators.



Five Tips for Getting and Keeping a Clearance

Five foundational considerations for clearance holders.



Understanding Interim Clearance and Denials

Generally speaking, a security investigation can take months. Many federal agencies need to fill positions faster than that, so they cannot always wait for the final clearance. In these situations, an applicant may be approved for an interim security clearance until the final clearance comes through.



Completing the Personnel Security Questionnaire

The first step in getting a security clearance involves completing the Personnel Security Questionnaire or, SF-86. Most likely, it will involve completing the SF-86 online, using the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing system, or e-QIP (pronounced “Equip”), though some agencies still rely on a PDF version of the SF-86. The level of clearance granted will be Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret.



How to Request Your DoD Security Clearance Records

Security clearances are subject to review, and maintenance of the clearance depends on the absence of adverse information from the clearance file. If the clearance holder believes there is something in her/his/their security clearance file that may compromise clearance eligibility, the first thing to do is find out what is actually in the file.



Dual Citizenship Rules for Security Clearance Applicants

Guideline C makes clear that dual citizenship in itself is not disqualifying. If the dual citizenship is appropriately disclosed in the clearance application process and is not judged to be contrary to U.S. national interests, the dual citizen may nevertheless be granted a security clearance.



Security Clearance Adjudication for Government Contractors

DOD contractors and contractors for agencies that follow DOD policy can challenge adverse clearance determinations by requesting a hearing with the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), the administrative body within the DOD that renders decisions on eligibility for access to classified information. Agencies that do not utilize DOD, including intelligence agencies, follow different processes which vary by agency. Learn more about the specific procedures applicable to DOD and DOD-affiliated government contractors for challenging security clearance determinations.


Most Common Security Clearance and Public Trust Application Forms


SF-86: Questionnaire for National Security


SF-85P: Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions


SF-85: Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions



Adjudicative Guidelines for the Executive Branch



Reporting Requirements for the Executive Branch

Security Clearance Blogs


Security Clearance Practice

Elaine L. Fitch

Photo of Mary E. Kuntz, Partner, DC employment law firm KCNF

Mary E. Kuntz

Co-chair of the Security Clearance Practice

Photo of Elizabeth M. Baker, associate with DC employment law firm KCNF

Elisabeth Baker-Pham

Co-chair of the Security Clearance Practice

Photo of Aaron Herreras Szot, associate with DC employment law firm KCNF

Aaron Herreras-Szot

Photo of Elizabeth I. Newman, Retired Partner, DC employment lawyers of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman and Fitch

Elizabeth L. Newman

Retired (2015)