Foreign Contacts During Research Work?

Hello folks,

I’ve found myself trying to preempt the SF-86 quagmires in advance as much as possible for some of the jobs I’m applying to as I wrap up my undergraduate education. I dug through the forum here but I have a specific question about Section 19 on the SF-86 regarding foreign contacts.

Last semester (this past January through mid-May), I was an undergraduate researcher on a team that also involved several graduate students - these graduate students were here from other countries (Egypt, India) and are currently still state-side doing research. I do not know nor have I asked them if they are dual citizens, green-card holders, etc - I only know they’re here currently. During the research project, I attended weekly meetings with two of these students along with a group chat to discuss research progress.

My questions are the following:

  1. What is considered as “close and continuing contact”? I had conversations about our research with them, for obvious reasons, but I never asked them about or was involved in their personal lives (before, during, or after the project). I do not feel any bonds of affection, obligation, etc. to these people nor have we had any correspondence since the end of the research in May; however, the contact falls within the 7 year window.

  2. If I’m interpreting the question correctly, all of the criteria parts of the question (within 7 year window, close and continuing contact, etc.) need to be in the affirmative to check “Yes” on this question?

  3. Perhaps to leave wiggle-room, Section 19 also asks to list any associates - for the purpose of this section, are these graduate researchers considered associates?

Lastly, I should note that I have not submitted the form yet; if this is something that would require reporting, I don’t have any issues with reporting it. I’ve never filled out SF-86 before so I’m trying to be through in my understanding of what is and is not required.

Thanks in advance for any guidance you all can provide.

I used to work for a defense contractor and sometimes we’d go to college career fairs to recruit. 90% of the kids who came to our table asked if we sponsor H-1 visa (No we did not) in fact I saw that a couple other companies had signs to that effect.

That is to say, your situation is not at all unusual especially if you were studying science-engineering stuff.

As to whether these are “close and continuing” contacts I would say no… but…

Any of six dozen other “social media” platforms I never heard of?

If you have not had any contact with them since the research ended and there’s no social media friending/liking/following, then I as an officially designated and duly sworn @sbusquirrel would say no. But let’s see what actual investigators might say.

And in any case, at least have a list of names and countries handy :slight_smile:

Thanks for the insight @sbusquirrel.

You’re correct that this research was science/engineering work (sponsored by DOE and involving international agencies over in Europe as well).

As for my social media presence, I’ve deleted everything besides Snapchat (which is under consideration for deletion) but I never had any contact through social media with these people. I plan on having a list of names and countries available for the investigators ready to go if they ask.

In your opinion, is it better to put this down preemptively or leave it for an explanation after to an investigator? I think I could explain the situation but I’m not sure whether it should go on the form before I can talk to someone about it to provide context (does the form allow me to provide an explanation at end?)

That’s a good question and maybe better left to an investigator if one of them seeks to chime in. You don’t want to seem like you’re hiding anything, but there’s no point in opening a can of worms if it is unnecessary.

I was wondering if maybe you could list the one person that you had the most contact with, then explain the situation during the interview. But wait to see if one of the investigators who regularly check in cares to comment.

If you don’t have close and continuing contact with them and do not have ties or bonds of affection/loyalty to the individuals then you do not need to list them, especially if you don’t know anything about their citizenship status and all the other pertinent details such as their date of birth and place of birth which you would be required to list. If you don’t know any of that information then it’s arguably safe to say you aren’t close with the individuals.

I once interviewed a guy who had extensive foreign travel, and he listed pretty much every person he met while traveling abroad as a foreign contact, even if it was just a cab driver who picked him up from the airport and that was the only contact he had with the person. Because he listed those people I had to go through and discuss each one, wasn’t fun, especially since he didn’t know anything about them other than their name and only guessed at their citizenship status

Given the circumstances you described of your contact with the individuals, I would say that you do not have to report them

Also, if you do decide to list a foreign contact and don’t have the requested information (date/place of birth, citizenship, address, etc…), do not contact them and tell them you need that info because you are applying for security clearance. Just list what you know.