We spend a lot of time advising how financial issues and personal conduct are far and above the top of the heap when it comes to causes of security clearance denial and revocation. But it’s worth noting that if you’re a naturalized citizen, you’ll have to work extra hard to prove your reliability and trustworthiness. The adjudicative guidelines state: ““Any doubt concerning personnel being considered for national security eligibility will be resolved in favor of the national security.”

True or False: Eliminating As Much Contact With Foreign Relatives Can Mitigate Foreign Influence Concerns

Just like passage of time is an issue for individuals with drug use in their past applying for security clearances (the advice being the more time you can put between your use and application, the better), time is also a factor for instances of foreign influence. There’s no standard for how much time needs to be spent in the U.S. or as a citizen, but you need to show more solid ties in the U.S. than in your country of origin – and sometimes U.S. policies themselves hinder your ability.

A Sudanese applicant applying for a security clearance was initially denied due to a variety of factors under the Foreign Influence and Financial Considerations adjudicative guideline. A key issue was the applicant’s siblings and wife, who still resided in Sudan. While the applicant had become a U.S. citizen in the mid-2000s, he had significant family ties still in the country, including a half sibling who is an official with the Sudanese government. The applicant hadn’t spoken with his siblings since his mother’s death and according to petition, was planning to work with an immigration attorney to sponsor his wife coming to the United States.

Living a continent apart from a spouse who doesn’t yet have a clear path to U.S. citizenship is a complex hurdle to overcome. One would have to show significant ties to the U.S. In this case, the applicant didn’t own a home and was using a friend’s address as his mailing address. Home ownership isn’t a requirement for the security clearance application – but it doesn’t hurt. If home ownership isn’t an option – and it might not be – applicants should work hard to show they have more ties to the U.S. than they’re country of origin. Couch surfing isn’t an automatic clearance denial, but failing to have a U.S. mailing address is an issue.

False: Even if you eliminate contact with oconus relatives, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to obtain a security clearance.

When a case is ambiguous, the government will err on the side of itself. That doesn’t mean the Sudanese applicant should stay away from a government career – but it may mean that getting his spouse to the U.S. – or showing significant efforts to do so, along with obtaining a permanent U.S. address (even a rental) would be key first steps.


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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.