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The Security Clearance Application Process

The path to obtaining a security clearance begins with a rigorous application and interview process. Make no mistake: employees of federal agencies and contractors will undergo far more scrutiny when trying to obtain a security clearance than they usually would undergo when trying to obtain a position that does not require clearance. The government needs to know that it can trust you with access to classified information.

Tully Rinckey PLLC’s security clearance lawyers can help you complete the application for security clearance and prepare you for questions an investigator may ask during your interview. Call us today.

Below are some key points about the security clearance application process:

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  • To receive a security clearance, you must have a sponsor, meaning you must already be employed by a federal agency or federal contractor.
  • It generally takes between three to six months for a security clearance to be granted or denied.
  • The SF85 form is for secret and confidential security clearance.
  • The SF86 form is for top secret or top secret-SCI (sensitive compartmented information) security clearance.
  • The security clearance application requires applicants to disclosure their employment history, personal residency history, criminal history, and history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • The security clearance application requires applicants to provide verifiers and references for different aspects of their lives.
  • Applicants are required to disclose any foreign contacts and activities.
  • Top secret security clearance must be renewed every five years.
  • Depending on the agency, an applicant may be required to take a polygraph test.
  • Generally, wrongdoing disclosed on an application or in an interview will not be used to prosecute the applicant.

Call Tully Rinckey PLLC today to speak confidentially about your individual situation with an experienced security clearance attorney. We can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 202-787-1900 or via email at

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