We receive dozens of questions about the security clearance daily here at ClearanceJobs.com and at the ClearanceJobs Blog and Forum.While the specifics are different, the majority of the questions are something like, “I’ve done x y, or z – can I still obtain a security clearance?”

Because the security clearance investigation process looks to capture an overall picture of someone’s character and trustworthiness, we can get an idea of what the answer might be (generally based on previously adjudicated complicated cases as released by DOHA), but it’s impossible to say for sure. Except in a few specific cases.

There are four criteria that, by law, result in clearance denial – an individual convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison for more than one year, a person who was discharged/dismissed from the military under dishonorable conditions, a person who is mentally incompetent, or a person who is addicted to a controlled substance.

These prohibitions became law in January 2008 as a result of the Bond Amendment, which applies to all federal agencies are restricts access to Sensitive Compartmented Information, Special Access Programs and Restricted Data. Even three of the four criteria can be waived by senior adjudicators however. A meritorious waiver may be granted if the individual can show passage of time has resulted in a change in circumstance and character. A person who initially applies for a security clearance and who is denied based upon criteria in the Bond Amendment may reapply at a later date and be granted a clearance, if that person can show that they are no longer mentally incompetent, or at risk of criminal misconduct or poor judgment.

“People often ask if this or that condition is disqualifying for a security clearance,” writes William Henderson, security clearance consultant and co-founder of FEDCAS, a company offering security clearance advice and assistance. “There is only one condition that will absolutely result in clearance denial — current illegal use of drugs or drug addiction (see the Bond Amendment). All other security concerns are considered “potentially” disqualifying conditions that must be evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances.”


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer