Three letter agencies have a mind (and process) of their own, and security clearance crossover from the DoD to a law enforcement agency like the FBI doesn’t always go smoothly. And most of the time, a denial doesn’t tell you exactly where you went wrong, either. Just like the ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber whose security clearance didn’t crossover from their current holder to the FBI:

I don’t know for certain, but I believe the FBI lives in a silo of sorts. They don’t play well with others or share. The FSO won’t be able to tell you why and likely won’t even know why. That would be between only you and the customer, but my thoughts are they just don’t want to share.

I did get lucky back in 2016 or so and they did cross me over to NGA, but I was told repeatedly that someone must have been looking down on me from above for that to happen.


Security clearance reciprocity is when an agency accepts a security clearance granted to an individual by another agency. The FBI tries to complete the processing for TS security clearances within 6 to 9 months, but of course, the processing time for each individual varies depending on its complexity.

For a ‘start from scratch’ investigation, the FBI takes into account your credit and criminal history, additional record checks to verify citizenship for the applicant and family members, birth, education, employment history, and military history. Interviews with people of interest are conducted, residences confirmed, neighbors interviewed, and public records queried for information about bankruptcies, divorces, and criminal or civil litigation.

Now, FBI has its own rules on suitability. You will want to look into the various three-letter agency criteria. A suitability determination is the agency’s judgment on if you’re the correct fit (or suitable) for the employer you’re applying to… in this case, an appropriate candidate for the FBI.

We’ve seen previous candidates’ TS investigations under the DoD accepted under the FBI, but it really depends on your individual situation. Besides not being hired by the FBI for that role, suitability denial generally means you are not able to re-apply to the same agency for a certain timeframe.

Law enforcement agencies are the trickiest to get into…the FBI certainly plays with other agencies, but only for the right candidates.


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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! 🇺🇸