Half siblings whom I've never had contact with (deceased father)


I will be going through the security clearance process for the first time. In reviewing the form, I understand that the process requests us to list relatives, including half siblings. My father (deceased) had a prior marriage before marrying my mother. During this time, he had 5 children (all US citizens). I am nearly 30 and can never remember having any contact with them. I do not know birth dates, addresses, etc. It would even be a challenge to track down my half sisters’ married names.

My mother also does not have this information and we have no connection to this side of my father’s family.

I would have to do my own investigation to track all of this information down, which I don’t think is the purpose of the process. So, what is the proper way to fill out the form… does the fact that my father is deceased make any difference on whether I have to report them? What about the fact that there is no contact? I want to avoid any delays in being granted the clearance and would appreciate guidance from those with experience / knowledge.


As with many other issues, yours isn’t completely unique. They have seen it before. But, you need to make your best effort to get as much information as you can. List what you know and provide an explanation. Remember, if you say that you couldn’t find the information and the investigator finds them all in 30 minutes, that’s more of a problem than having the investigator put in a few days and finding no more than you did.

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No, you do not need to list them nor do you need to do your due diligence. I have left that section largely blank and wrote a comment that I have not talked or seen XZY family members in X-number of years. Nonetheless, I would direct this question to HR or security manager.

Yes, you need to list them. List what you do know and then explain that you have no way of obtaining any additional information.


If the OP does not possess the half siblings information, OP does not need to list the siblings. You cannot list something that you do not have. Additionally, OP does not need to find that information. Nonetheless, OP should annotate that in the comment section. Again, I would advise OP to consult with the HR representative or a security manager on that and have that communication documented.

In my experience, section 18 did not delay my background investigation and adjudication. During the interviews, the investigators did ask me about that and I directed them to the comment section and explained that I simply do not essentially have the information. I wasn’t asked about it any further.

That is simply not true. At bare minimum, their names and citizenship statuses should be listed.


I believe it is the attempt the counts. Whatever information you have, whether it be a name only or a general vicinity of whereabouts, place of birth, etc. , will go a long way. As mentioned by others, explain the lack of information in the comments section. Whether it is in the comments section or minimal information in the relative’s section, they need to be acknowledged.

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List the half-siblings with the information you know. Try to get the information from any relatives that might know.

Not listing these half-sibs is a minor Personal Conduct issue. Not listing a half-sib that turns out to be in prison is a major Personal Conduct issue.

You are always better off listing what you know and inserting the comment that you have never met these siblings and have not had contact since (fill-in month/year or approximate year).

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How is not listing a family member in prison that the applicant has no contact with a MAJOR Personal conduct issue?

It makes it, potentially, look like the applicant failed to report them BECAUSE they are in prison.

Appearances count . . .

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Put down as much info about them as you can, and then explain the lack of info on the form. I have a step sibling who I met once when I was in like elementary school because she doesn’t communicate with the family. I put her name down, and I think her birthday and explained the rest. Don’t worry, the investigator will find out whatever they need to know, but at the very least they still need to be listed.

Concur with BI folks above. List what you know or can readily find. For any relative you are TRULY estranged from by years…annotate as such. Google is an amazing device and can help you find addresses.
Almost all families have that one sibling who maintains the address book. Use due diligence. You want something and in a reasonable enough time. So if you can facilitate something that is in your best interest…why would you try to be stubborn and not provide it? I had SF86’s rejected because they felt they were not complete for this very reason. The employee didn’t want to to do the work. If you have the ability to look up a name and address…do so. If you cannot find the info, state that. Nobody is saying list addresses you do not know or cannot find. I had one employee insist she did not know her siblings addresses, but she visited each one every Christmas. So I asked what address does she drive to, and to use that address. Long story short the employee was being lazy. All her relatives were local within in 30 miles.Yes there were a lot of them, but she did not want to make a reasonable effort.

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On the SF-86, it instructs that applicant to truthfully and accurately/completely report information to best of his/her knowledge or something to this effect. No where does it instruct, applicants are to make reasonable effort to secure information then report/list the information or something to the effect.

A while ago, Marko shared a blog in which an applicant intentionally failed to truthfully and accurately list his father. There was an intent, which led to the appearance of misconduct or lack of candor. The same can be said with the example that Amber gave (ie: didn’t list an address of multiple relatives, but visiting them on annual basis).

If an applicant does not have the information, then, according to the form, the applicant does not need to make reasonable effort. Rather, the applicant is to list the information truthfully and accurately.

Nonetheless, it is up to OP.

I understand that the instructions don’t literally instruct to make a reasonable effort, however that could be construed to all parts of the case papers. If someone has moved 3 times and can’t recall their previous address, it would be expected that they find some paperwork with their previous address. If someone attended college 20 years ago and received a degree, it would be expected to find the address of the college. Filling out the SF86 cannot be done without a reasonable effort somewhere on the case papers. It isn’t justified to say I could look up the address of my previous college, but I could not attempt to find out the address of my father because I have not had contact for 10 years. Explaining the attempt in the comments section is the last resort.

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I should have been more clear than I did. My comments were in reference to circumstance presented by OP. Generally, we should make reasonable efforts in acquiring information within our control concerning us (ie: our credit history, arrest history, school addresses, etc.). In this case, OP does not have the siblings information. OP asked his/her mother, but to no avail. In my opinion, this is sufficient for OP to annotate that on the form without having to do any further efforts as to do his/her own investigation (ie: Google search, ask other family members, etc.) as the form does not mandate it. Nonetheless, it is why I advised OP to seek further guidance from his/her security officer or HR specialist.

If I get a half-stepped SF86…and trust me I get them weekly…I reach out and tell them they did not follow instructions. If they fail to respond (they often do), I trash the SF86. I put a lot of effort into each one to limit denials and rejections. Maintaining a contract with well over 400 clearances requires a lot of effort on my part, and reducing rejections and denials due to incomplete info is part of that. If a person doesn’t want to demonstrate they care about the clearance by making a reasonable effort…I am not making any effort to submit an incomplete form. I suppose in day to day conversations it is unspoken one must make a reasonable effort o to converse, be present at work, do their job…it goes without saying. Anyone believing they are on strong ground submitting incomplete paperwork, claiming they don’t recall…well, I will continue to not process their SF86’s. The person either wants the clearance and a specific job or they do not. If they won’t make a reasonable effort, neither will I and I do not expect this burden to pass on to the BI person. If a situation clearly prevents them from knowing something, write that down. If it is explainable, it is understandable. Claiming “the form does not require me to do that”…well, I imagine how difficult life is for anyone believing and following that mantra. I read a quote attributed to John Wayne concerning that once…Life is tough…

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Spoke with the the FSO here at treasury, if there is no contact with the half-sibling, they do not need to be listed on the form. This question is trying to discover if the activities a relative conducts can pose a threat to security. The OP does not have any contact so the relative does not need to be listed. This is guidance from OPM.
similar to the foreign contact questions.

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I am an NBIB investigator and we’ve never seen that instruction about half-siblings.

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Concur with BI. It doesn’t give the option of not reporting if you have no contact. List them, state there is no contact…but a savvy BI person will determine if there is contact or anything requiring scoping. Giving the applicant the decision authority to not list if in their opinion the contact is slim to none…defeats the purpose of the form. The BI person may just develop interesting info from the half sibling.

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@amberbunny Should i be selected for a job i was referred for, i will run into this issue as well. My family situation is something else. I was adopted at 3 mos.
Flash fwd 35+ years…through fate and happenstance, my bio sister finds me.
We have a few months of conversation, which included meeting bio mom.
Met mom on a few occasions…but sis turned out to be a real…piece of work.
Relationship with her ended…and over the course of 6 months, she used guilt tactics and her 4 daughters to eventually have bio mom end her relationship with me. I was told who bio dad was,but I never made an attempt to introduce myself to him, as he was 17, didnt really care, and never actually saw me or held me etc etc.
During all that, i DID find out i had a half sister, who actually lived in same town i was in at the time.
Our relationship has been great.
After reading the replies, here is my only concern; Bio dad.
I know his name, and what city he last lived in, BUT I do NOT want anyone contacting him. As far as i know, i do not exist to him, and it was hard enough to deal with sis and mom coming into my life, only to take themselves right back out. I really dont want to go through something like that again.
I have no trouble putting down bio mom and sis’s names, and half sis.
Would an investigator make an attempt to locate him if i put his info on the form?
Sorry for the novel, but some background was necessary :slight_smile: