A key area that has to be self-reported for security cleared professionals is foreign contacts. What constitutes a foreign contact? What if you develop a foreign contact relationship during an open investigation and don’t have an FSO to report it to yet?

I submitted my SF86 for TS (no poly) a year ago, met with the investigator April, 2023. Still in open investigation. Mother is naturalized and one instance of drug use almost 10 years ago, some medical stuff with anxiety, but nothing crazy or out there relative to what I’ve seen posted here. Still in investigation.

I’ve started using the dating apps and have found that there is a large population of foreign born partners here and some I’ve matched with are from countries like Russia, Cuba, Venezuela. I’ve been out here and there with a few foreign naturals.

My question is at what point do I need to report any of these dates with foreign born people? I’m not cleared yet, still in open investigation. What obligation is there for this? Or for that matter, do I report foreign travel as well while I’m in investigation? Could be years until I get this (if I get it). Can’t put life on hold right?

SEAD 3 and Self Reporting While Under an Open Investigation

The SF-86 outlines a reportable foreign contact as any foreign national (excluding dual citizens) with whom you or your spouse, legally recognized civil union/domestic partner, or cohabitant have had close and/or ongoing contact within the last seven (7) years, characterized by affection, influence, common interests, or obligation. This includes associates and relatives not mentioned in Section 18.

SEAD-3 notes that a reportable foreign contact as any foreign national with whom you have: “continuing association that involves bonds of affection, personal obligation, or intimate contact; or any contact with a foreign national that involves the exchange of personal information.”

This is where smart online dating safety comes into play. Make sure you don’t list your full name and occupation on your dating apps, and you’ll ensure simply making a match doesn’t cross the threshold of personal information sharing or a bond of affection. When exactly that occurs may be in the eye of the beholder, but as a general rule, the less you share with a paramour, especially in the early dating stages, the better.

Not currently being adjudicated or maintaining a security clearance means the original poster technically doesn’t have the same self-reporting requirements as a security clearance holder. But applicants should make sure their SF-86 information is up-to-date, including noting new foreign travel between the dates an SF-86 is submitted and between successful adjudication. If a background investigator reaches out for a conversation, the applicant should expect questions and provide any updates.

As a measure of caution you could reach out to your recruiter or security officer at the sponsoring agency and ask for their advice.

Dating, or even marrying, a foreign national isn’t disqualifying. The key thing is to be up front and be aware that the more foreign national contacts you have, the clearance application and adjudication process may be more arduous. One ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber notes:

Dating someone from those countries (especially Russia) would probably cause issues. I started dating and eventually married a foreign national while holding a clearance (and going through a renewal) with zero problems, although they were from a non hostile-country. Only thing is a lot more things to fill out as well as keeping your security office abreast when you start becoming closer with their friends/family. There is an SF86 supplement form called “Reporting Foreign Nationals”. I’ve filled out quite a few over the years as my language skills improve and start talking to more people whenever we go for visits. As always, being up front and honest is key.

Learn more about when to tell your FSO about your foreign significant other if you are a clearance holder here.


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! 🇺🇸