Do you get a warning if your clearance will be denied?

I’m currently applying for a clearance for a summer internship. Due to very minimal but recent drug use, I believe I will be denied. I have heard that a denial will haunt me down the line, but I’ve also heard that you get a warning before being denied so you can retract your application - is this true? In other words, should I go ahead and apply because I can withdraw my application before getting denied, or should I not even bother applying?

No, it is not true. Why would you submit an application for a security clearance if you recently used drugs?

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Thank you for the reply. I was stupid and acknowledge my mistake - I was not aware of the repercussions and am fully aware of my level of idiocy.

That being said, I was told that I should go ahead and submit an application because there’s a slim chance it would be approved and because I would be warned ahead of time if I would be denied so the denial wouldn’t be on my record - this is inaccurate?

There is no warning before a denial.

Possibly you will get a “suitability” denial which is not the same as being denied a security clearance.

How “recent” is recent? Less than six months I’d say almost certainly a denial. Less than a year, I’d say probably a denial. Between one and two years, maybe no denial if it really was ‘minimal’ use.

That’s just my personal assessment and does not reflect any official guidelines or anything. Not that long ago I would have said anything in the past two years would be disqualifying but times seem to be changing, at least in some cases.

Just curious who suggested this? Let’s say you get a denial, you will have to report that every single time you apply for a clearance now.

Previous interns who have been denied said they received a warning for their denial so that it wouldn’t go on their record. They said that since I would receive this warning, I should go ahead and apply given the slim chance of approval.

Do you know for a fact that this warning isn’t common practice? Because obviously in that case I shouldn’t apply. Thank you again for being willing to help me out

I don’t even know which agency or where you applied for your internship so no, I don’t know for a fact that warnings aren’t common practice. I can tell you that in my 23-year career I have never heard of a warning before.

I am wondering if these warnings are a pro-active FSO screening applicants before submittal.

Where would a warning even come from other than that? An adjudicator calling a Subject to say you might not get this clearance I’m adjudicating? Makes no sense.


I worked at a place where one of the security officers had very good working relationships with the customer security reps, and sometimes she could figure out that somebody should probably withdraw their application for SCI so as to avoid the possibility of getting their existing non-SCI clearance pulled. I don’t think it was ever anything official but a few people did end up withdrawing their applications.

In 2017 I had a client who received a letter from DIA offering him the option to withdraw his application for employment & TS/SCI before DIA issued a letter of intent to deny clearance. He was told that he could apply again in a year. This is the only time I’ve seen a letter from any agency offering a job applicant the option to withdraw. Being given the option to withdraw prior to an adverse employment suitability/fitness determination may be more common.


This applies to State only:

Clearance adjudications at State are very much intertwined with Suitability, and my understanding is that for pre-employment decisions, Suitability is the vehicle that is used if a clearance is going to be denied. A rep from DI/SI/PSS (in charge of granting security clearances at State) in on the Personnel Review Panel (the body charged with making Suitability decisions) as indicated here 3 FAM 2150 PERSONNEL REVIEW PANEL (PRP) ), and there are two good reasons for denying based on Suitability: (1) it doesn’t hurt the applicant as badly (and especially if the applicant is going to be applying to other agencies in the future), and (2) it is less cumbersome for the agency as there are fewer due process rights (you are only offered a written appeal and the denial criteria are less clear)… in essence, it is an HR decision to not hire you.

I was originally denied suitability at State. I appealed and was successful, and I was immediately granted the corresponding security clearance. In my correspondence with the Panel, I was told that it was highly unlikely clearance would be denied after successful appeal because of the representation on the panel… DS wouldn’t agree to reverse the denial if they were going to deny a clearance.

Hope this helps.

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That’s pretty good you got the “suitability” decision overturned. I had heard it was very unusual to be successful with that for State Dept and you had to pretty much prove them wrong… not a case of mitigating (like with a clearance appeal) but showing that their reasons were incorrect.