Security Clearance and Changing Jobs: How to Transfer or Reactivate Your Clearance

March 15, 2024
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

It is exceedingly rare for anyone to remain in the same job with the same employer for their entire career. In the private sector, some studies have shown that workers will spend less than five years with a single employer. While that number may be higher for federal employees and government contractors, many will still transfer to jobs with other agencies or other contractors. Your security clearance makes you an attractive candidate for new opportunities, but you need to know how to navigate the process to keep it. Get in touch with a federal security clearance lawyer if you are considering changing jobs and want to discuss how it impacts your security clearance.

You May Have Reciprocity

Technically, security clearances are issued for a position and not a person. As a result, you cannot exactly take it with you to your next job. However, if you are transferring from one government agency to another at the same clearance level, you may be able to get your clearance reinstated. 

A system of reciprocity was established in 2004, which is currently managed by the Office of Management and Budget. There are 13 adjudication guidelines that apply across all federal agencies that are intended to require new investigations into security clearances only when necessary. If you are transferring to a different job in the same agency, the process should be relatively seamless. If you are transferring to another agency, the process is more complicated, and delays can occur. 

It is more difficult to predict what options you have if you are a government contractor, whether transferring to another contractor position or into an agency. One factor is whether you will be performing the same job duties for the same agency. Another factor is whether the government believes that the clearance process meets or exceeds those that federal employees would have to undergo. 

Where Reciprocity May Not Be Available

There is no guarantee that your clearance will be transferred regardless of your situation. As mentioned above, one situation where your clearance will not be transferable is when your new position requires a higher clearance level. However, some additional situations where your clearance may not be transferable include the following: 

  • You hold an interim or temporary clearance
  • Your new position requires that you take an additional polygraph test
  • Your clearance was approved with exceptions
  • Your last investigation was more than two years ago
  • Your transfer documents are incomplete

The best thing to do when making a career move is to be forthright with your hiring manager about your current clearance and any potential issues that you are aware of. If you are worried about your transfer or are encountering issues, a federal security clearance lawyer can help. 

What if Your Clearance Has Expired?

It is not uncommon for a worker’s clearance to lapse. If you are transferring to a new job at the same security level, you could get your clearance reinstated by the same agency that originally granted it. If you are starting at a new agency, reciprocity may allow you to get your clearance reinstated with your new agency if it has been less than two years since your clearance was active. You should be able to get your clearance reinstated even if your previous employer terminated you. 

If it has been more than two years since your clearance was active, you will likely have to go through the entire clearance process all over again. This shouldn’t be a problem unless you have had significant changes in your life since your clearance was active. For example, criminal convictions, excessive debt, or other developments that would raise doubt as to your integrity or trustworthiness may trigger additional scrutiny. 

Otherwise, you can probably hold yourself out as “clearable.” Nevertheless, be candid with your hiring manager about the status of your security clearance in order to set appropriate expectations. If there are issues, a federal security clearance lawyer can help you get them resolved. 

Contact The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford for Help with Transferring Your Clearance

Obtaining and maintaining your security clearance isn’t easy and it can become even more complicated when you are changing jobs. Federal security clearance lawyer J.W. Stafford can help you navigate these challenges so that you can move into your dream job. To discuss your case and get answers to your questions, contact us today by calling 410-514-6099 to schedule a consultation.