You’ve applied for a security clearance, but now you’re waiting the months (or years!) required to get your final clearance. You may find yourself frequently asking your security officer for the status of your security clearance. And you may find yourself wondering what those statuses mean. Here are the most common security clearance statuses your security officer will see in the system of record:

  • Action pending
  • Eligibility pending
  • Loss of jurisdiction
  • No determination made
  • Denied
  • Revoked

Action pending is the most common security clearance status. It’s what you’ll hear while your clearance is in the investigation stage. Unfortunately, as of today, action pending may mean your investigation is at nearly any stage in the process – from first submitted to nearly completed. A new initiative to create intuitive, updated dashboards for employers awaiting determinations is in the works – but for now, security officers are limited in what they can tell you about what is going on with your investigation. In general, that’s because they simply don’t know.

Eligibility pending is the status when the investigation is complete, but an adjudicative decision hasn’t been made. The National Background Investigations Bureau and now Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency have made significant headway in reducing the size of the security clearance backlog – but adjudication timelines have continued to creep upward as more cases are pushed from investigation to adjudication. While adjudication should be complete in a matter of days, over the past year several individuals have reported adjudication timelines that have extended well over a year.

Loss of jurisdiction is security clearance limbo. It applies if you’re fired for cause, and a red flag was placed on your security clearance before you departed. If your security clearance is under a loss of jurisdiction status, you will need to work with your current security officer or a future employer to address the issues.

Finally, if your security clearance was denied or revoked, that status will be indicated in your security clearance system of record. A denial or revocation isn’t the last word, however. If your clearance is denied, you may reapply for a cleared position after a year has past. Depending upon the reason for a security clearance revocation, you may also be able to prove a change in character, reliability and trustworthiness that would allow you to reapply and obtain a clearance in the future.

Why does your security clearance status matter? It’s important to know where you’re at in the process. It’s easy to feel powerless when trying to get a clearance, but knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you can improve your chances of a successful determination.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.