When applying for a security clearance, more than just your personal history is examined. Your past friendships and current family connections are also considered. Having links to unfriendly nations or knowing individuals from such countries doesn’t automatically disqualify you, but you might need to provide additional information to the appropriate authorities while your clearance application is evaluated.

But what if you have family who are simply thinking about visiting a hostile country? Let’s examine what that might mean for this security clearance applicant and their chance of a favorable determination:

I was recently given a FJO for a position requiring TS/SCI, but haven’t started yet so I don’t have any contacts outside of my recruiter. One of my parents just mentioned considering a visit to relatives in a country listed with a do not travel advisory. Is this something I would need to report (and to whom) or could jeopardize my position before I even begin? Generally, I would assume not, but during my investigation I was explicitly asked if I thought my parents had any intent to visit/live there and at the time I had no reason to believe they would, as they haven’t been in decades. Apologies if this question is silly or obvious, but I am a bit shaken up after learning this and was hoping to see if anyone had any advice.

Section 18 on the SF-86 ask about relatives, their place of birth and country of citizenship to name a few things. If their home country is an area with an advisory, this is a consideration (foreign influence and foreign preference are two adjudicative guidelines security clearance applicants are judged against in the security clearance process). Anyone can view the US Department of State travel advisory list here.

Section 19 reads: “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? Include associates as well as relatives, not previously listed in Section 18.”

The form, however, does not ask about an individual’s parents travel or potential travel plans. If and when their travel plans become firm, that would be something to discuss with your Facility Security Officer (FSO). If your clearance still isn’t adjudicated at the time travel plans are set, it would be at your discretion whether you call the investigator back and let them know of your learned knowledge – since it did come up during the subject interview, it would be something to clarify, and it would likely be to your advantage to create a paper trail of informing your security officer of the updated information, despite it not being a specific self reporting requirement.

For current security clearance holders, here are the self-reporting requirements.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. However, it also creates a  lot of questions for applicants. For this reason, ClearanceJobs  maintains ClearanceJobsBlog.com – 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.

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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! 🇺🇸