Failed suitability review...what are the future implications?

Hello, thanks in advance for any advice.

In 2015, I applied for a job as a consular officer with the Department of State. I got a conditional offer, but the offer was rescinded because I failed the suitability review due to drug use. I had smoked pot in college a bit, quit for several years and then smoked twice, both times within a year of applying with DOS. The last time I smoked pot was in October 2015. The letter informing me of the reasons arrived in January of 2017. I didn’t appeal the decision.

I’ve been recently offered a position with USCIS for a position that requires secret clearance. I did not get an interim clearance. I am worried that because I failed a suitability review previously, that I will fail the background check and get the job offer rescinded again.

Should I get a lawyer for this? One lawyer told me that because I was denied previously, then I will never get a security clearance. He told me that he could file a Request for Formal Reconsideration for $1,500. Is that even possible? The appeal period is over.

Thank you for any advice! I’ve been so worried about this and I’d love to get some answers and guidance.

The issue is not the denial for suitability, the issue is the drug use. State Dept does not report the suitability denial (I dont think) and it does not count as denying a clearance.

I cant remember if it was here or over on Federal Soup forums but somebody reported being denied a clearance with some component of DHS for drug use several years earlier. He said they had a “zero tolerance” drug use policy. That person did not specify which part of DHS, but did say it was not for an armed law enforcement position, which usually have very strict policies regarding past drug use.

I don’t see why USCIS would have such a policy but who knows.

Anyway, it is over two years since October 2015 so I would think the past drug use would not be a problem. But I dont get to make such decisions.

Frank . . . I would ask you for a little more information . . . When was college? How old are you now? “Youthful indiscretion” is easier to dismiss than adult drug use.

Hello, sorry for the delayed response. I graduated from college in 2009, which is when I stopped using marijuana. I was 24. The next times I used marijuana I was around 30. I am 33 now. I hope that helps.

OK . . . So, you haven’t been denied yet. I wouldn’t hire a lawyer until you receive an SOR and know what they are actually trying to do. The lawyer that told you that you will never get a clearance without his help seems to be full of sh*t . . . He wants you to pay him for something that you don’t know that you need.

Your grass usage in college is in the last then years and you didn’t show much judgment (sorry . . . ) in using again in 2015. I wouldn’t have expected you to get an interim with the admission of fairly recent, adult drug use. But, I don’t think that will eliminate you from getting your clearance. It will have to be dealt with though. Be prepared to provide details of occurrence. Who, if anybody, did you smoke with? Where did you get it? Do you still hang with this person?

I think that the idea that an old college friend showed up at your door to crash for a few days and brought the grass with him and you later asked him to leave and haven’t seen him again, is far better than the story where you seek out a dealer and get wacked for a weekend.

The first can be mitigated because you are not likely to make that mistake again. In the second case, it’s all on you and could, realistically, happen again at any time.

I’m sure that your case is somewhere in between, but I went for the extreme stories on each end.

I concur with Ed. College use is a non issue. The firing up at age 30…speaks to a willingness/propensity to not follow rules. It is a higher risk to anyone trusting you with classified material in theory anyway. I find youthful indiscretion up to about age 24 is rarely an issue if there has been at least 12 months to mitigate it. In theory 3 years no use as an adult and an understanding you will not use moving forward, may require a conduct letter acknowledgement and of course behavior change. You must speak to the denial earlier and the reason, and be open, frank and honest about all drug use. What exactly were the circumstances of the adult use? High stress time? Death of close family, job loss? High duress not likely to repeat itself is also a possible mitigator if it applies. Time and distance is the best one though. Don’t use, and let time pass. If you get the Secret clearance stick with that level for another 3 to 4 years before seeking a TS and stay clean.

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Thanks so much for the response. I guess the name of the game is patience. I had an interview a couple weeks ago with an investigator, so the case is moving at least. I appreciate your input.