Getting a Government Security Clearance?
When applying for any government position, you’re likely to see a list of requirements for security clearances in the job descriptions. The procedures involved are quite intrusive, expensive, and includes a lot of paperwork. For this reason, you may need the help of your employer to speed up the process.
So, before you start the process of obtaining a security clearance, make sure you arm yourself with the following useful information and understand what government security clearance is.
What is Government Security Clearance?
Any U.S. company or citizen who has access to confidential government information should have security clearance.
There are three basic levels to explain what is government security clearance;
Confidential: This is the basic level of clearance (which is common in military personnel). The clearance means that you will gain access to materials which, if improperly disclosed, could cause measurable damage to national security.
The clearance includes a criminal background check, and verification of criminal, employment, and education records. It also needs fingerprinting, credit check, interviews or submission of personal documents. They are reinvestigated after every 15 years.
Secret: Unlawful disclosure of secret clearance information could cause severe damage to national security. These clearance levels are reinvestigated every 10 years.
Top Secret: This is the highest level of security clearance issued. In this case, you have access to confidential information that could cause exceptionally severe damage to national security if it’s improperly disclosed. This level of clearance should be reinvestigated every five years.
How to Get a Security Clearance
It’s hard to apply for a security clearance as an individual: an agency or government department has to request it. Note that it can take up to two years to get a security clearance as a result of the high number of background checks that are already in progress. The process may vary depending on the federal agency and may keep on changing depending on upcoming issues.
Here is how it works:
- The application process involves a thorough verification of US citizenship, fingerprinting, and successful filling in the Personal Security Questionnaire (SF-86).
- Then the Defense security Service performs criminal background checks.
- Next is the adjudication process, where the results from the investigation department are analyzed and assessed based on the key factors as stipulated by the Department of Defense. These include personal and criminal conduct, mental disorders, substance abuse, just to mention a few.
- After these processes, a security clearance can either be granted or rejected.
Who is Eligible for Government Security Clearance?
You cannot initiate a government security clearance application on your own. You must be sponsored by a government agency for a specific job position that requires access to classified information. It’s also important to be a U.S. citizen to get a security clearance. However, an exception can be allowed in certain situations where there are convincing reasons for limited access to be given to an immigrant or foreign employee who have a special skill that is required for specific projects, programs, licenses, grants, contracts, or grants.
A lot of controversies exist on whether individuals should keep their security clearance after leaving a cleared job or separating from the military service. To clear the doubts, it is important to note that a clearance is always under the purview of the federal government, and what they give can be taken away any time. The clearance policy dictates that a clearance is valid for a period of about two years after leaving service. In case you leave a cleared job and move to another within that duration, your security clearance can be reinstated easily if the investigation period has not expired.
Security Clearance for Classified Communication Software
The only entity that can issue a security clearance is the federal government. Clearances are needed by the government based on certain needs and requirements of certain positions. It means that for a communication software firm won’t be able to apply for clearance on its own. To obtain a government security clearance, a firm should obtain sponsorship from a cleared contractor or a federal government agency. These two groups are the only one that can start the clearance process. In this case, the government will finance the entire process, so the firm won’t incur any costs.
If you have made the decision to get a position for which a government clearance is needed, this guide will help you through the process from start to finish. If you have held a clearance in the past, you will be eligible for more jobs that require such qualification. It is important to include the data of the last investigation on your application.
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