"Foreign Influence" Denial - Mitigation for the Future?


#1

Five years ago, I was denied a TS/SCI clearance during processing following a COE for one of the three-letter agencies. I received an SOR stating the denial was based on “foreign influence” because a few relatives who I had self reported as foreign contacts are or were associated with a foreign military. (I am a second-generation native-born American)

I never had anything approximating “close or continuing” contact with these individuals, but reported them because of their association and because I had spoken to each of them for a few minutes in the 7 years preceding my background investigation (my POC told me to report any foreign contact in this period, which I thought was erronenous, but did so, including foreign contacts made under official government business)

In the years since I received the SOR, I have had no contact with any foreign relatives, and do not plan to ever have contact with any foreign relatives as I do not have close relationships with any of them, do not care for them, and they play a minuscule role in my life.

I wonder if this action of avoiding foreign contacts, combined with the passage of time, could mitigate any future concerns over having to report on future SF-86s that I was denied a clearance for this reason?


#2

So . . . My assumption is that you decided not to participate in a hearing after receiving your SOR five years ago. I think this was a mistake as this would have been your chance to explain and mitigate your foreign contacts. At the time, the explanation that you had no “close or continuing” contact may have been enough for you to have prevailed at the hearing.

The fact that you have discontinued contact is a positive.

Yes, changes in behavior and the passage of time will almost always provide mitigation for security concerns. If you apply again, go in with your eyes wide open and make sure that you get solid advice on filling out your SF-86. Read the questions and don’t read anything extra into them. Provide all of the information that you are supposed to but do not over think and then over report.

In your situation, legal representation may not be a bad idea from the very start. You need to realize that this is going to be a long process and you may end up with another SOR. If you are going to go through this process, be prepared to defend yourself at a hearing.

Best of luck . . .


#3

I did appeal my decision actually, and I made a point to the people present that within 5 minutes of the appeal beginning, I had longer contact with each of them than with the referenced foreigners combined - but they still upheld their decision.

I also had legal representation and they were very surprised at the ultimate decision, especially as I had been positively adjudicated by a separate agency to hold a clearance at the same level previously (and I continue to hold that clearance with that agency).


#4

Critical adjudication keys are different for each agency. This is one of the roadblocks to reciprocity.

The fact you have relatives in a foreign country could put you in a compromising position that at IC agency is not willing to risk - while another agency will accept that risk.


#5

Thank you for that insight @backgdinvestigator; that brings me back to my original question though; is there anyway for me to mitigate this “critical adjudication key” in the future.

Let’s say I apply to that agency again in ten years, I will still be related to the people who were cited in their previous SOR, but I will have had absolutely no contact with them.