Are you eligible for a security clearance? It all comes down to the adjudicative criteria and whether or not the federal government deems you trustworthy based on the judgement of adjudicative personnel. Having a security clearance, in turn, means an individual is eligible to access classified information.

Eligibility standards are higher for SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) and SAPs (Special Access Programs). The adjudicative criteria, however, are the same. But because the investigation process is more lengthy and stringent, expect a deeper investigation into your personal conduct, credit history, and more.

Generally, only U.S. citizens are eligible to obtain a security clearance. Under Executive Order 12968, with limited exceptions,

eligibility for access to classified information shall be granted only to employees who are United States citizens for whom an appropriate investigation has been completed and whose personal and professional history affirmatively indicates loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and sound judgment, as well as freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion, and willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling, and protection of classified information.

The 13 ADJUDICATIVE Criteria

If you’re wondering if you’re eligible for a security clearance, consider the 13 adjudicative criteria. Keep in mind that mitigating information effects the security clearance adjudication. Drug use is a criteria considered in the security clearance investigation process. But, drug use may be mitigated due to passage of time. Eligibility will also be based on the agency to which you apply – the Drug Enforcement Agency is less likely to be forgiving of recent drug use than the State Department.

Provide mitigating information on your SF-86 background investigation. The background investigation is largely designed to determine your general trustworthiness, character, and susceptibility to blackmail.

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