You know you have to report foreign contacts on your security clearance application or report new contacts to your security officer – but what does close and continuing mean, anyway? The phrase is subjective, but here are a few examples of foreign contacts you generally don’t need to report.

3 Contacts You Don’t Have to Report

  1. Former classmates where you have only a passive social media relationship. Note here that the word is a former classmate – not your overseas family member or childhood friend. However, if you had a college acquaintance who has now returned to a home country, but you exchanged social media requests and don’t have ongoing conversations, you can lean more towards not reporting them. You may even consider cleaning up your social media “friends” list by removing people that fall in this category – just to make it cleaner. If you haven’t commented or liked one of their posts in the last year or two, then they may not even be making into your newsfeed anymore.
  2. Former coworkers who you didn’t socialize with after work. The key here is that your communication was about business or light conversation in passing in the hall, and you didn’t socialize outside of work. In other words, you did not develop a close and continuing relationship – you weren’t close while working together and you weren’t close afterwards either.
  3. Foreign national neighbors who you wave to and regularly see, but you’re not inviting over to your next BBQ. When you cross the line past lightweight social pleasantries, and start to develop a closer relationship over a backyard fire pit, then we have a different story. While it’s good to err on the side of caution, in some diverse areas, this could quickly get overwhelming and create unnecessary work for you.

Over Analysis Can Lead to Over reporting

Many applicants have a tendency to overreport foreign contacts. Here’s another litmus test – if you don’t know if an individual is from overseas, but just think they are, you probably don’t need to report them. Any contact that is fleeting, incidental, or arms length does not need to be reported unless your federal agency has told you otherwise. So, whether you’re filling out your application for the first time or you are a clearance holder with a new neighbor, it’s important to think through what close and continuing means to you and your agency and apply that definition uniformly.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.