‘Til death (or divorce) do you part… whether you were married in a big church or Vegas chapel, a marriage is still a marriage when it comes time to fill out your SF-86. In fact, the word spouse shows up 52 times on the SF-86. You also might wonder about former spouses in terms of foreign influence, specifically if you are unaware of their family history. Maybe that impromptu Vegas wedding didn’t allow time for these types of questions.


The questions you are asked on the SF-86 have timelines of ‘ever’ or specify a specific number of years (generally seven). Questions about foreign influence include:

  • Do you have, or have you had, close and/or continuing contact with a foreign national within the last seven (7) years with whom you, or your spouse, or legally recognized civil union/domestic partner, or cohabitant are bound by affection, influence, common interests, and/or obligation?
  • Have you, your spouse or legally recognized civil union/domestic partner, cohabitant, or dependent children EVER had any foreign financial interests (such as stocks, property, investments, bank accounts, ownership of corporate entities, corporate interests or exchange traded funds (ETFs) held in specific geographical or economic sectors) in which you or they have direct control or direct ownership? (Exclude financial interests in companies or diversified mutual funds or diversified ETFs that are publicly traded on a U.S. exchange.)
  • Have you, your spouse or legally recognized civil union/domestic partner, cohabitant, or any member of your immediate family in the last seven (7) years been asked to provide advice or serve as a consultant, even informally, by any foreign government official or agency?

Applying for security Clearance- is your former Spouse Legal?

A recent poster on the CJ Blog is unsure of the immigrant status of a former spouse and if it will be investigated:

Secret clearance. I’ve been married 15 years. My wife was Russian, and now a US citizen. We have kids. My former wife divorced 20 years ago, was from another country. We were not married long. I don’t know if she was legal or not when I married her. For secret clearance, is that marriage even going to be thought about? Are they going to ask anything about it? I know this clearance is 5-7 years back. Still, will two foreign marriages be questioned? Any concerns here?”

Marko Hakamma ensures that investigators are “only interested in former spouses within the last 10 years if not covered in a previous investigation.” Where the former spouse could become a (minor) factor is if she were somehow previously listed in an SF-86 or a part of an investigation for the applicant. In this case, passage of time is the most critical factor, not whether or not the foreign-born spouse was a legal resident.

There have been issues where individuals have been unable to obtain security clearance due to the undocumented status of a current spouse. In those cases ‘ignorance’ will not help your case. This is why it’s critical to get your ducks (and legal status) in order prior to applying for a security clearance. This applies to both the applicant and their significant other.

SPOUSAL ISSUES and your security clearance

This is far the only instance where spousal (or significant other) issues become a security clearance consideration.  ClearanceJobsBlog has had numerous questions come up about an applicant’s other half. Here are some other spousal issues that could come up:

Your spouse – like all ‘close and continuing’ relationships – are fodder for a security clearance background investigation. But the major factor is still your behavior and likelihood of being able to maintain trust with both the government and your current spouse or significant other.


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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ 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! 🇺🇸