If you have contact with foreign nationals through your work or personal life, it’s important to report those foreign contacts to your security officer. Having a friend, neighbor, or even family members from overseas won’t cause issues for your security clearance. But you have to list these relationships on your SF-86, or security clearance application. If you’re contacted by a foreign national while working in a classified position, it’s important to report that contact to your security officer.

Remember if you currently hold a security clearance, you have an obligation to report adverse or potentially harmful information. Our world is increasingly global, and you may wonder how it’s not possible to have international contacts and relationships. The government understands our networks are global, and that stint as an international student, or that neighbor who’s from another country don’t spell disaster for your security clearance. But it’s better for you to report those contacts or activities than for your security officer to discover them. Even social networks you may participate in with a heavily foreign audience should be reported. That includes professional forums such as foreign language practice groups, or social clubs dedicated to hobbies.

What may seem like a harmless incident to you could in reality be a risk. That’s up to your security officer – not you – to decide.

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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