Introduction to Security Clearances

Introduction to Security Clearances


A Brief Overview of Security Clearances


What is a Security Clearance?

A Security Clearance is given by Federal Government only to the selected personnel’s or a company, as a permit to access classified facilities or information. The three different types of personnel clearances are, Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential.

Who processes these clearances?

The DoD (Department of Defense) is the only body that is assigned with the task of managing these security clearances. An arm of the DOD called the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) works in coordination with the Defense Security Service (DSS) to process these clearances.


What is the validity of these clearances?


The personnel security clearance remains active until the personnel works with military or cleared contractors, where his/her job involves working with the classified facilities or information. Also, if you have a personnel security clearance in any of the three levels, your clearance will be periodically re-investigated.

What are the different types of clearance status? (Active, Current, Expired)

The personnel security clearance is solely based on PSI (Personnel Security Investigation), and are either ‘Expired’ or ‘Current’. PSI is under the ‘Current’ status for a maximum period of 15 years, if you have a Confidential clearance, 10 years, if you have a Secret clearance, and 5 years if your clearance is of Top Secret type.

If this maximum period is expired, or if there is a continuous break of 2 years from the service, then the person is eligible to apply for clearance, but they have to again undergo the process which he/she went through, at the time of applying for their first clearance. As this can be a time-consuming process, and often expensive, it is very important for every potential employer to make sure that your clearance is in the Current state.


If the clearance is terminated, can it be reinstated again?


Yes. If in the past you used to have a personnel security clearance, which is still under the current status, you can get it reinstated by the same authority that first granted you the clearance, or it might also be accepted by a different company or agency. You need to re-apply for the clearance within the maximum period of 2 years, and fill a completely new application form for the same.

If the clearance that you have lapses, how much time will it take for processing a new clearance?

For every type of the clearance, the complete process can take about 200 days and more.

If you had a clearance about 3 years ago, will you get a new clearance faster?

No. There is no way you can get your clearance processed faster if you had a Confidential or Secret clearance in the past. However, if your Top Secret clearance was expired in the last 5 years, maybe a very small part of the investigation will not be repeated, and this can make a small difference in the time required for processing your clearance.


What if my clearance is revoked or denied?


You can apply for a Notice of Adverse Decision Appeal. This appeal is then reviewed by the Defense Officer of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA). However, the only reason that allows you to file this appeal is if there is a mistake made by the AJ (Administrative Judge).

1 Comment
  • SeanGartland
    Posted at 14:31h, 16 May Reply

    I believe my position does not require a clearance. However, as our VA is merged with a Dod (Navy) hospital I have been informed that I have a secret clearance and/or hold a sensitive position. How did my position get a secret clearance / sensitive position status? I am the recreation supervisor for the nursing home. Nobody at the facility seems to be able to tell me.

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