If my security clearance is denied, what are my immediate next steps?

The first thing I advise all denied applicants to do is to carefully and critically read the denial letter (called a “Statement of Reasons”). In some cases, the information used to form the basis for the denial is factually false. I’ve also seen one case where the applicant was issued a Statement of Reasons intended for another applicant with the same name. In either situation, the denial may be easily resolvable by presenting documentary evidence proving the government’s mistake.

In the vast majority of cases, however, the information is factually accurate but lacking in context. This means it may potentially be mitigated by providing context, clarity, or legal defenses under applicable law. Given the negative ramifications of a denial – namely, the loss of a wide range of career opportunities – you should always consider a consultation with a competent Security Clearance Attorney. A great many cases can be won with the assistance of legal representation. Many attorneys even offer a free initial consultation.

Keep in mind that a non-response to the Statement of Reasons will result in a denial by default. Applicants should also be cautioned that procrastination is the enemy of success. Waiting until days before the Statement of Reasons response deadline to hire an attorney wastes valuable time needed to prepare a defense.

If the denial of my clearance is affirmed by DOHA is there any further recourse I can take to reinstate my clearance?

Unfortunately, a final denial decision by a DOHA judge is, indeed, final unless successfully appealed to the DOHA Appeal Board. Post-denial an applicant must wait at least one (1) year before re-applying AND must be prepared to show that the circumstances leading to the denial have been resolved.

Is there a general time frame for review by DOHA of a clearance denial?

There is no required timeframe within which the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) – or any other agency, for that matter – is required to review your case after a Statement of Reasons has issued. Wait times vary considerably by agency and can range from weeks (ICE, CBP, NSA) to months (DoD, NGA, DOE) to years (CIA). Unfortunately, there is no legal mechanism available for expediting the process.


This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Security Clearance Attorney Sean M. Bigley represents clients worldwide in security clearance denials and revocations. He is a former investigator for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. For more information, please visit www.bigleylaw.com