In July the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) announced changes to the SF-86, security clearance application. This week, the e-QIP, electronic questionnaire used to submit investigations was updated to reflect those changes. Any new applicants or individuals submitting their periodic reinvestigations will see the newer, slightly more intuitive application. Old SF-86 applications will no longer be accepted.

Changes included in the updated SF-86 include:

  • The option to use email addresses as a contact method to identify the subject
  • The option of “I am a derived U.S. citizen” for citizenship status.
  • A link to look up school addresses through the Department of Education website for the “Where you Went to School” section.
  • The option to provide separate entries for employment activities with the same employer but at a different physical addresses (important for contractors working at multiple worksites).
  • “Marital/Relationship Status” expanded to more accurately collect information about legally recognized relationships.
  • “Foreign Business, Professional Activities, and Foreign Government Contacts” amended to exclude the need to report official U.S. government travel, including military travel.
  • The mental health question was completely revised to ensure only mental illnesses which would affect judgment are reportable.
  • “Illegal Use of Drugs and Drug Activity” question clarifies that drug use which may be legal under state law but which is still illegal under federal law must be reported.

The certification statement and authorizations at the end of the form have also been updated. They include language requiring applicants to certify there is no classified information on the form, and a release for publicly available electronic information. The use of electronic information as an additional source of information used in a security clearance determination pages the way for continuous evaluation and web research as a source of information used to make a clearance determination.

Each of these changes is designed to make the initial application process easier, and to clarify what information needs to be included. The more accurate your SF-86 is, the more quickly your security clearance will be processed. Errors in the SF-86 can cause months of unnecessary delays. The updated SF-86 also reflects additional nuance in foreign relationships and domestic partnerships.

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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