Finding quality childcare – particularly in regions popular for national security workers – can seem like a more difficult hurdle than even getting a job itself. But finding someone to watch your children isn’t as simple as just scouring the local daycare. While many childcare facilities are back up and running, the coronavirus pandemic has made in-home childcare a dream option for many. But when it comes to help, the devil is in the details, whether it’s making sure you’re paying the “nanny tax” or hiring childcare legally.

Concerns With Reporting Timeline for Au Pair Hiring

While you’re crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s, what about if you happen to hire a nanny or au pair who is from a foreign country? You self-report it to your FSO, of course, but what if there is a lag in your FSO updating the personnel record? Is your security clearance or your career in jeopardy? A CJ subscriber was concerned about this exact situation:

I currently have a TS/SCI and hired an Au Pair who is from South Africa. When I asked my security manager what I needed to do, I was simply told to report it as a foreign contact. I did. However, the security manager did not input it into the system at all like I had asked and due to COVID-19, it was months before I found out. It has since been added. Is my clearance in jeopardy, what else must I do/can be done? I am afraid to lose it as it is my livelihood.

FOREIGN CONTACTS and Hiring an Au Pair

All cleared personnel working in the U.S. are required to report contacts with people of any foreign nationality, either within or beyond the scope of their professional life, if the relationship is ‘close and continuing’. Any regular, paid help certainly falls under this category.

Generally, you should report any relationship with a foreign national that involves friendship, romance, or some type of personal obligation. Additionally, any interaction with a representative of a foreign government that is outside your official duties is also required to be reported.

Personal connections, however, can potentially create more of a risk, because it’s easier for foreign intelligence agents to manipulate individuals who deem them a friend. On the other hand, it’s illegal to ask about citizenship, nationality, or language in a job interview (only things like “Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.?”).


This clearance holder followed the rules and self-reported, but there was a hiccup with the FSO updating their file. All in all, if this is the ONLY thing in the clearance holder’s background that would require further review under the adjudicative guidelines, it is unlikely that their clearance would be revoked based solely on this au pair dilemma.

If a security clearance holder is truly concerned and worried their organization may not report any disclosures, ClearanceJobs contributor and security clearance attorney Sean Bigley notes Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 3 actually creates a useful loophole in security clearance requirements. Without direct expression of how reportable incidents need to be disclosed, security clearance holders should be able to submit their incidents directly to the DoD Consolidated Adjudications Facility.

As always, be honest moving forward, and do yourself a favor by putting things in writing. One background investigator notes for future situations like this, “Cover yourself with an email or similar documentation when self-reporting. Your responsibility is to report, not ensure the organization does their job.”


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 7+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸