What to Do if You Are Worried About Potential Issues Affecting Your Security Clearance

August 17, 2023
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Obtaining a security clearance may be the most important step in building your career with the federal government or as a government contractor. The process requires considerable time and effort and can be a source of considerable anxiety. You are not alone if you have some issues in your past that you are worried could result in the denial of your security clearance. In many situations, however, these issues can be appropriately managed. Rather than give up on your clearance or make some other regrettable decision, get some experienced guidance from a federal security clearance lawyer

Be Honest

Whether completing your paperwork or sitting down for your interview, it is important to remember that you must be candid and truthful. Ultimately, the purpose of the security clearance process is to evaluate your loyalty to the United States and whether you could be subject to foreign influence. Failing to disclose potential issues or disclosing issues in a way that is less than candid creates the impression that you have something to hide. Do not risk your security clearance by attempting to hide the truth. 

The Most Common Reasons That Security Clearances Are Denied

It is also helpful to understand why security clearances are most often denied. 

  • Financial issues. Too much debt, unpaid taxes, unsatisfied judgments, and other financial issues are probably the most common reasons why security clearances are denied. 
  • Drug and alcohol use. Indications that you abuse alcohol such as a DUI or public intoxication charge can jeopardize your security clearance. Using illegal drugs is obviously problematic, but applicants should remember that using marijuana may still be an issue even though it has been decriminalized in many states. 
  • Criminal charges. Criminal charges unrelated to drug and alcohol use can also be problematic. However, not all criminal charges are given the same weight. Applicants with prior charges that reflect negatively on their honesty or integrity (such as fraud or embezzlement) should expect greater difficulties in the security clearance process. 
  • Personal misconduct. Not cooperating with your background investigation or lying on your application, or any other conduct that demonstrates a lack of honesty can result in a denial. 
  • Foreign influence. Applicants can be deemed to be subject to foreign influence through family members and other personal relationships. 

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of reasons why security clearances are denied. If you have any potential issues that fall into one of these categories, it is important to note that it does not mean your clearance will be automatically denied. 

Get Out in Front of It

If you are worried about past issues jeopardizing your security clearance, the best thing to do is to deal with those issues as soon as possible. The steps you can take will vary depending on the issue involved. For example, you can pay down your debt or take care of other outstanding financial obligations if you are worried about potential financial issues. You may be able to obtain a letter from your therapist or other healthcare professional that indicates you have successfully completed treatment for a mental health or substance abuse issue. 

The best thing to do is to contact a federal security clearance lawyer or security clearance consultant. They can evaluate your issues, assess your options, and develop a way forward that will maximize your chances of your clearance being approved. 

Prepare for Your Interview

If you are aware of potential issues, you need to go into your security clearance interview prepared to answer difficult questions. The purpose of the interview is to gain some context surrounding the potential issue. They will ask several intrusive questions in order to gather as much detail about the issue. Again, you need to be candid and honest. Preparing ahead of time so that you can provide all of the pertinent information can avoid misunderstandings or the impression that you are being less than forthright. 

You should also be aware that you can be represented by counsel at your interview. It may not be worth the cost if your issues are minor, but you can discuss with a lawyer whether they would recommend that they attend the interview. 

Contact Federal Security Clearance Lawyer J.W. Stafford

Getting your security clearance is vital to your career. Invest in your future by getting experienced guidance from someone who knows how to navigate the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation about your security clearance by calling 410-514-6099.