With security clearance processing times still nearly a year or more for many applicants, the need for interim security clearances has only increased. Interim security clearances allow individuals to get to work with a basic background and fingerprint check, as they await the completion of a full investigation. But what does it mean if your interim clearance is denied?

If your interim clearance is denied, you won’t be able to work on classified projects, and you may not be able to get to work at all, unless your employer has unclassified work you can do while you wait. But many people assume an interim security clearance denial means their chances of a favorable final clearance determination are slim – that’s hardly the case.

An interim clearance denial certainly doesn’t mean your final clearance will be denied – it just means you have something in your background that requires more inquiry. Examples include debt, foreign born relatives, or previous criminal conduct. If you have any of these issues in your background, your case may simply require more time to adjudicate. An interim clearance is granted or denied based on a limited number of factors. In contrast, a final clearance determination will take into account the ‘whole person’ concept. This allows for mitigating factors, such as cause of debt, or association with foreign-born relatives, to  help consider your reliability and trustworthiness with classified information.

If you’re denied an interim clearance, don’t give up on your chances of doing cleared work – just be prepared to wait.

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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.