Obtaining an interim security clearance is a key advantage for both employers and new security clearance applicants seeking to get on the job and begin doing critical national security work as they await a final determination. While final security clearance timelines have improved dramatically, it still takes an average of 181 days for a final Top Secret clearance determination and 112 days for a final Secret clearance determination.

Interim clearance processing times at one point were well over 30 days on average. As overall clearance processing times have improved and business process changes have allowed for a more timely processing, with benchmarks of around one week an average. In recent weeks, some individuals have indicated slightly lengthier clearance processing times, but spokespersons from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) assure that interim clearance processing times are still vastly improved.

“The interim timeline fluctuates throughout the year and the average interim timeline goal remains 5-7 business days,” a DCSA spokesperson notes.  “As of January 20, the interim timeline is eight (8) business days.”

A variety of factors play into interim clearance processing times, including work load, case inventory, and IT systems. Security officers have a significant role to play in ensuring interim timeliness stays on track.

“As a reminder, the fingerprint checks – which result in the Special Agreements Check (SAC) investigation – should be submitted just prior to submission of the investigation request to VRO,” DCSA notes. “The SAC investigation is a key requirement to complete the interim determination.”

No Interim? (Maybe) No Problem

Just because you’re unable to get an interim clearance – or your interim clearance takes longer than the 5-7 day standard. Interim clearance denials don’t equate to final security clearance denials. When an interim clearance is denied, that simply means the government needs more information to take a final clearance determination.

Want to improve your chances of a favorable – and more quickly issued – interim security clearance? Make sure your SF-86 is filled out completely, that you have all of the information required, and that if there are issues in your security clearance application, you provide mitigating information.


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer