There’s one piece of mail that nobody wants to see after they submit their application for a security clearance: a Statement of Reasons (SOR) or Letter of Intent (LOI) for clearance denial. Both forms provide the explanation for why an applicant was denied access to classified information. This letter will note the security concerns based on the 13 adjudicative criteria and gives the individual an chance to appeal the decision.

Once the applicant receives the notice, there are a few options. They can file for a written appeal; they can opt for a personal appearance before a panel or judge, in some cases; or they can accept it and move on to other job prospects.

One ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber inquired on how to move forward after they were denied with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):

“Long story short, I was denied a clearance with the agency awhile back. I chose the option to appeal. After reviewing the FOIA I found out that I was pretty damn close (2v1) when it came to which adjudicators denied / approved me.

My question is this: Will a going through with the CIA appeal even be worth it? I understand that it will ‘help’ in the sense of removing the denial off of my record. But in the off chance that I win my appeal, would it even be possible to secure employment with that agency again?

I have read on here that once denied a clearance by that agency, they will not lend a second chance. Wondering how true this is or if anyone can dispute this.”

Should I Appeal My CIA Security Clearance Denial?

Responding to a letter of denial is an opportunity to stick with the process – but applicants shouldn’t expect a timely response. While the CIA states that denials are processed in the order received, the length of time applications languish indicates one shouldn’t expect a speedy turnaround.

The specific concerns regarding your application should also be kept in mind, so requesting additional information if you can is key. Upon receipt of your SOR or LOI, individuals who are denied can obtain documents regarding the reasoning for denial within a specified timeframe.


If you’re serious about a security clearance career in general, finding out why you were denied and mitigating those issues is critical. Request the personal appearance, which is a hearing before a panel of adjudicators. Waiving your chance for a personal appearance isn’t effective, unless the issue is some basic procedural issue that just needs clarification and review. Other tips include:

  1. Be timely
  2. Understand the denial fully.
  3. Mitigate, confirm, or deny each fact in the denial.
  4. Rely on the facts, and avoid emotional responses.

As for your possibilities of gaining employment at the agency depending on the appeals decision, never say never. But when facing these types of security clearance issues with the CIA or any another federal agency, obtaining legal advice from an approved security clearance attorney will help you navigate the process, and maybe give you hope if they’ve helped others out in the past.

One background investigator notes:

“I have yet to see someone say “I got denied a security clearance with CIA but reapplied and got hired” possibly because nobody wants to post in a public forum that they are a CIA employee… even with these fake names.”

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! 🇺🇸