DoD Secret Time with Extensive Foreign Residence?

Confused Secret Clearance Applicant here. The Average DoD secret seems to be 103 days, but I’ve had significant foreign residence for most of my life + foreign family members. Moreover, I will be overseas during the entire investigation and adjudication (I am a college student studying overseas). Good news is that I can begin working right after I submit my e-QIP, and I do not have to wait for either Interim/ Full Clearance to start. How long can I expect my clearance to take, and how accurate is the 103 day estimate for candidates with a background similar to mine?

Looking for a rough estimate here since I assume nobody can give me concrete numbers. Thank you!

These official statistics either reflect some timeline that does not count weekends/holidays/paydays/etc, or some alternate universe that has yet to be discovered by mere mortals.

In other words, that timeline is bunk, at least if you compare it to the actual time that applicants wait, as measured from the moment they hit “submit” on the eQIP to the moment they get the word that their clearance has been granted.

Six months seems to be a more realistic average, and your case sounds like it will be more complicated.

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A friend did Peace Corps in an Eastern European country after college, then married someone from that country and has stayed there since. The job will be there, so that’s the reason he stayed. Anyway, he’s been waiting almost two years for a DOD Secret and his current residence/ marriage are 100% the reason for the delay.


As I mentioned in my post, a condition of employment for my internship would be to just “apply for the clearance”/ “hand in my e-QIP”. Do you think I can work for the entire summer (duration of my internship) without ever getting a clearance? – assuming my clearance hasn’t been adjudicated the entire time I’m working.

Thank you!

There is a good chance you will work all summer without the clearance being completed.

I don’t want to start an issue but I have worked, completed, and see Tier3 and Tier 5 cases completed and adjudicated in six weeks or less. I often have cases that closed before I return my fieldwork to retention at the end of each month.

I also have two “ancient” Tier 3 cases that have been open since last fiscal year and they are not close to closing.

The most common difference between the two speeds are filling out the SF 86 correctly (or at least close) and trying to hide issues hoping sealed records and/or similar events will protect you from your background investigation.

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  1. Do you mean that there’s an incentive for some applicants to intentionally prolong their background investigation?
  2. In the shorter time-span cases (6 - 15 weeks), have applicants had a background similar to mine? (Foreign residence for a majority of their life, Foreign parents, Foreign student visas).

It’s always great to have an investigator chime in, so thanks! (Especially on the weekend)

In general, there is no incentive to extend the investigation. These extensive periods happen because most people are not briefed on the SCA and simply told to “fill this out by Friday”.

A simple background with a complete and correctly completed SCA tends to finish quickly. A Tier 3 with all the proper information, to include self admitting minor issues, addresses, and verifiers that respond quickly, might never sit on an investigator’s workload. Those are the quickest cases.

So is having a well-filled out SF86 and good references more of a factor in determining the length of your investigation compared to your actual background itself? For example, if one candidate has a background similar to mine but fills out his SF86 correctly and another candidate has never left the U.S. and has no foreign contacts (and no other issues), but messes the SF86 up, who would be investigated quicker?

If it were only that simple. The correctly filled out SCA (SF86) starts all of the work at the same time, in the beginning. Good verifiers, good addresses with valid zip codes, correct dates, all issues identified with all information requested and a brief explanation (not a brief whine) in the comments, these really help with the field work timeline.

The best timeline is a clear, simple, background with no hidden issues and a properly filled out SCA.

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Just curious, would you say my background is “simple?”

No, foreign living and foreign associations/relatives are not part of a simple background.