When you take on the lengthy security clearance application, or SF-86, preparation is key. You will want to avoid waiting until the last minute as you’re sitting in front of eAPP to let your references know they may be contacted by a background investigator. Doing the initial research will save you time and your sanity as you’re filling in all the pertinent information. However, you cannot include what you don’t know. What if you have family members, for example in-laws, that are refusing to provide the information required for the SF-86?

This ClearanceJobsBlog poster was hoping to do things by the book, but didn’t have all the words to fill in the blanks:

“I’m completing my eAPP and my wife’s parents don’t want to disclose their information. What do I do? They were born in Mexico but are both permanent residents with social security numbers.”


Your father in-law and mother in-law are family members that are specifically called out to list on the SF-86, so it is information you are going to have to deal with head on.

Section 18 asks you to select which family members are applicable to you – and asks for citizenship, frequency of contact, DOB, address, etc. If your family members or in-laws are refusing to provide you with the necessary information for the SF-86, you should consult with the sponsor company/agency FSO for specific next steps to ensure your investigation will not be held up.

Generally, your chances of obtaining a security clearance are much better if you answer all questions truthfully and completely. Therefore, you can probably list your in-laws address, DOB, and current employer. So, the section you probably will have trouble with is listing citizenship document numbers and naming the court/address that issued the certificate. If you can’t provide these things, you have adequate opportunity on the SF-86 to explain information that is lacking in the comments section which are a part of the record provided to a background investigator.

Use these comments to make it clear that you have family or in-laws that are declining to provide information. Do not put false information or no information all – contact the FSO before proceeding because through the security clearance process, it is always better to ask than assume.

Click here to view three things you should do when you submit your SF-86.


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. However, it also creates a  lot of questions for applicants. For this reason, ClearanceJobs maintains ClearanceJobsBlog.com – a forum where clearance seekers can ask the cleared community for advice on their specific security concerns. Ask CJ explores questions posed  on the ClearanceJobs Blog forum.

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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! 🇺🇸