Length of time to process SF 85 for NACI to pass suitability?

Hi there. Let me first preface that I know that an SF 85 is not a clearance but rather a suitability investigation.

I just received a TO for a low level forecaster position (NWS-NOAA-DOC). I submitted the OF-306 and the TO stated that when once the OF-306 is approved, if I did not meet background investigation requirements, than I would be sent an email to complete the e-qip for SF 85. I have looked at the SF 85 form…I have no problems with any of it…no skeletons in the past, no criminal background, excellent credit etc…

I have performed this same exact position for this agency in the past & 10 years ago I left to go into private industry. 15 years ago when I was in this hiring situation with the Fed Government, I was able to start work while the SF 85 was being processed. I looked back in my files & it took about 2 months for this background check to get completed & signed off on. I was just talking to a friend in the NWS and he said he thinks they are no longer letting you start work during the processing period and that it has been about a 2 month wait before the SF 85 investigation gets completed and THEN the Final Offer & EOD are given.

I have no problem being patient & waiting. However, I am concerned about the possible hiring freeze that Mr. Trump may initiate quickly upon his start. I’ve heard a rumor that if I did not have a Final Offer in hand at that time, my TO would become null & void.

Finally to my question: Has anyone had recent experience with an SF 85? (NOT an 85P…that is a different form). If so, what was the processing time?

Also, is that true about the hiring freeze and FO?

I know this was long but I wanted to make sure I gave full details for my particular situation.


I have not heard of agencies waiting for a low risk nonsensitive investigation to get completed before allowing you to start working. Agencies usually submit the investigation within 14 days of your start date and issue you a ID badge based on the favorable review of your fingerprints, OF-306, and SF-85 submission. A clean Tier 1 is processing at about 4-6 months right now.

Thanks a lot Marko! Thats a relief.

I know that I filled out a SF 85 15 years ago. If by chance things have now changed with the NWS since then & they have upgraded to a Tier 2 (SF 85P), would that change your answer & my waiting time?

Process is the same, however a Tier 2 will take a bit longer to complete.

ok, So it is not the investigation that is causing a 3 month wait between TO & actual arrival at the job…its the processing time that HR is taking for the paperwork. Good to know.

Thanks @marko.hakamaa, for what you are doing on this website! It is very good of you to be giving your time to help others. I know speeding up the process is out of my control (outside of completing & submitting my paperwork quickly & correctly), but it really helps to relieve a bit of the anxiety knowing a rough timeline for each of these hiring steps. There is another website that has helped with some of the other facets of the applying/hiring process, but lacks the facts about the current situations with investigations & security clearances. So it was nice to come upon your website & get your knowledgeable insight.

Now I can start the patient wait through this last step!

Hi Marko,

So I actually did end up completing the SF-85P, not the 85. I am supposed to be getting the FO any day now (very relieved).

I was not interviewed years ago with my Tier 1, Will I be interviewed at some point because I am now Tier 2?


Yes, an interview is a part of the T2 process.

Thanks Marko, Just got my FO call this morning with 2/6/17 EOD. Very excited!

Hi Marco - Sorry for the ignorance, but what isTier 1 and Tier2 ?
Thank you

T1 = low risk non-sensitive (no clearance) on an SF-85
T2 = moderate risk public trust (no clearance) on an SF-85P

Thanks a bunch for your answers.

Morning…a Tier 1 is a NACI which is the requirement for all Federal employees to complete. There isn’t an interview from an investigator this this level. If you have identified anything on your OF-306 that will be investigated which will make the onboarding process longer. Anything above a Tier 3 is taking about 1 year. OPM has a backlog of 2 years and this freeze didn’t help.

[quote=“Ajampr, post:12, topic:736”]
…a Tier 1 is a NACI which is the requirement for all Federal employees to complete… If you have identified anything on your OF-306 that will be investigated which will make the onboarding process longer.[/quote]

Does that mean that a Tier 1 investigation is launched for every person who puts something adverse down on their OF-306? I thought the position had to be identified as requiring a public trust and the candidate has to fill out an SF-85

Tier 1 is the investigation for positions designated as low-risk, non-sensitive. It is also the minimum level of investigation for a final credentialing determination for physical and logical access. Tier 1 investigations are requested using the Standard Form (SF) 85. He is referring to the fact that during the pre-screening and on-boarding process it may take longer to EOD.

Marko, would you happen to know the time for a Teir 2 ? Thanks

They are taking anywhere from 3 months to a year on average depending on the complexity of the individual.

I am still waiting almost 2 months now for tier 1 GSA approval from OPM. I am a contractor just needing access to the jobsite at a federal building why does this take so long.