In addition to a foreign passport or dual citizenship, there are a substantial number of questions on the SF-86 that relate to an individual’s foreign affairs. It may be tempting to work with a foreign company if they offer a sizable salary, but will doing so preclude you from obtaining a security clearance?

I’ve been offered a lucrative position with a Chinese company with offices in the US. This company is listed on certain federal “blacklists.” I have previously worked as a contractor at DOD and DHS and held Public Trust clearance. Will working for this company exclude me from future positions requiring a clearance? Also interested in your take on how it would impact private sector job opportunities that don’t require clearances. Thanks.

Full thread here.

The adjudicative guideline most at play here is Outside Activities (Guideline L) which refers to positions or relationships occurring outside of the U.S., involving relationships with foreign countries, people or organizations.

Here are just a few questions on the SF-86 you would potentially have to fill out should you take this position under a Chinese company and come back to national security work:

  • Have you EVER served, as a civilian or military member in a foreign country’s military, intelligence, diplomatic, security forces, militia, other defense force, or government agency?
  • Do you have, or have you had, close and/or continuing contact with a foreign national within the last seven (7) years with whom you, or your spouse, or legally recognized civil union/domestic partner, or cohabitant are bound by affection, influence, common interests, and/or obligation?
    • Provide the name of the foreign national’s current employer, or provide the name of their most recent employer if not currently employed.
  • A number of questions on foreign activities including financial interests.
  • Have you in the last seven (7) years provided advice or support to any individual associated with a foreign business or other foreign organization that you have not previously listed as a former employer?
  • Has any foreign national in the last seven (7) years offered you a job, asked you to work as a consultant, or consider employment with them?
  • Have you traveled outside the U.S. in the last seven (7) years for other than solely U.S. Government business?

One investigator on the thread notes that it is a free country, and you can do whatever you want. And while you are free to enjoy a foreign position with some financial benefits, it could come at a big career cost. A future security clearance applicant needs to be able to prove they are not bringing additional risk to sensitive information by separating from a foreign company.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” For this reason, we maintain – 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, emails received, and comments from this site. This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ 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! 🇺🇸