After filling out mountains of paperwork and subjects going through interviews, you may feel that the security clearance process (or one to receive eligibility for a position of public trust) is very intrusive.

Unfortunately, if you were hoping the questions would stop at the SF-86, you aren’t going to find that. Background investigators are collecting information so adjudicators can make a determination. Asking clarifying questions from your standard forms is something they are legally able to do.

But, did this security clearance investigator go overboard? One ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber is asking for advice:

My application is for public trust. I was asked about my spouse’s work address. Despite her passport # was provided in sf85p for question 17.3, investigator still was asking for the naturalization number (which was required for the primary applicant but not for the spouse). Also asked about the name of the employer of my siblings.

Wondering if the investigator went overboard? Advice?

Standard Form (SF)-85P

In comparison to the SF-86, the SF-85P, while similar, requires slightly different information for dates, so keep an eye on what you’re required to list for criminal or employment history.

Your spouse’s SSN or naturalization number is required for the SF-85P to allow background investigators to make inquiries on whether there is relevant conduct on your part as a result of your relationship with your spouse. Your spouse is not the subject of the investigation. Here is more information on what it means to be in a position of public trust and the application process.

One background investigator on the thread reminds the original poster that the entire process is voluntary. Another notes that the information from the SF-85P is just a jumping off point, “…and the information trickles out… asking for siblings’ occupations are not “usual” but asking is appropriate if they are not US citizens or they live overseas.”

If you feel a complaint is warranted on the investigator’s professionalism, you can certainly file one. But if you are overanalyzing and new to the clearance world, remind yourself that a positive determination means a new job, that you’re not the subject of a criminal investigation, and move on.


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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! 🇺🇸