Naturalized Citizens & DoD / IC

What determines a naturalized citizen’s (or child of a naturalized citizen) chances of getting a clearance?
Are there even “immigrants” or first generation Americans in such places?

I’ve noticed that naturalized citizens who were born in countries outside of Western Europe tend to have a difficult and lengthy process with TS or TS/SCI clearances even if they are otherwise clean, honest, and loyal and financially stable. Are 3/+ year wait times a way to deter people of certain backgrounds or is this the case even with say White or Black American candidate as well? Anecdotally my experience indicates that this is mainly impacts people with ethnic origins in the broader Asian continent.

This question isn’t meant to start a political debate and is a genuine matter of concern which this forum is equipped to address.

I think it has to do with the foreign policy stance and unrest in particular regions. I don’t think it is directed at an individual background.

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I worked with a naturalized Somalian and a Pakistani naturalized citizen as well as many eastern Europeans. I dont think that your anecdotal experience necessarily represents the reality. It could be specific to your organization. What agency are you with?

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Thanks Northstar. Say that individual “originated” in a country that enjoys extremely good relations with the US and has the same/similar adversaries as we do? (I.e. Israel, India, Singapore, etc). In your opinion does that still hurt their chances?

I understand that this isn’t an exact science but value opinions.

An agency in the DMV area that is known for excellence in SIGINT and employing people with math/comp sci/and critical foreign languages.

Are there not many naturalized citizens in your directorate? Based on your observations how many people that you know fit the category you described and never cleared? I see lots of people on other forums that wait 2-3 years for NSA and CIA clearance and they seem to be natural born US citizens, no indication of ethnic background though.

There are certain countries (15-30 of the usual counterintel/terrorism countries) that can cause issues and delays in an investigation. If you are a naturalized US citizen with with no connections to your former country it’s going to be a somewhat simpler process. If you are a naturalized US citizen with lots of connections, property, relatives, investments in your former, country that is a more complicated possibly lengthy investigative situation.

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Thanks velcroTech. I’m still processing…, but have met a handful of people. None of them being ethnic minorities. Regarding the coworkers you mentioned I’m surprised. If one had origins or even minimal ties to one those places I would have just assumed they’d never get cleared.

@Amberbunny2 just curious, any thoughts on this?

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Many factors are considered, not just a person’s birth country:

  • how many years have you lived in the U.S./been a U.S. citizen
  • family ties back to country of origin
  • property/finances outside of U.S.
  • country status on State Department ITAR/EAR prohibitions
  • how strong are U.S. ties over foreign country ties
  • etc… etc…

Many naturalized U.S. citizens are more patriotic to the U.S. then U.S. born citizens, so to try to put this is some box or diagram, algorithm, or sliding scale is impossible.


I was seeing a norm of 18 months to clear for born US citizens. That remained solid for the better part of 8 years, 2010 to 2008. Timelines grew after that to 24-26 months. I had one applicant, good guy, he and wife naturalized from Malta. He owned property there, and returned annually to help harvest a family farm. After more than 4 years, and the government client requesting the spouse sit for full scope poly as well…they cleared. There is a lot to digest, review, and adjudicate. I agree with Marko on some naturalized citizens being fervently patriotic and devoted to this nation, more so than those born here. When you’ve truly seen how awful the world can be…there is a deep appreciation for what we can have here. Yes there are warts needing constant attention but there is much to find wonderful as well. This was the record for clearance timeline in my then 9.6 year tenure. Consequently, we had a born here caucasian male, North Korean wife…second one, married this one 4 months after first North Korean wife mysteriously died. I made sure I flagged him for full poly. He did not clear. I firmly believe the right decision was made in both cases.

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