Secret Timeline

Another confused applicant here. Recently graduated from a Master’s program and waiting on a secret level clearance from a DoD contractor. A couple of mitigating factors: incidental marijuana use (~3-4 times a year during college, with gradually decreasing frequency from 2011-2017 until I stopped entirely out of lack of interest) and foreign travel, including to countries like China and Myanmar. Also one of my close friends is a dual citizen of the US and Russia, which seemed to concern my investigator until I told him that her family is Jewish and fled the Soviet Union out of concern for their safety, and she’s only a passport holder at the behest of her parents. I’m assuming that this is going to prolong the investigation somewhat, but it seems to be moving relatively quickly:

e-Qip submitted 3/20/2019
interim declined 3/29/2019
assigned investigator 4/17/2019
personal interview 5/17/2019
reference #1 interviewed 5/30/2019
reference #2 interviewed 6/26/2019

As of today (7/17/2019) the investigation is still open. Any wisdom from cleared invidividuals/investigators as to whether I’m in for a long wait still ahead?

You’re only four months in but you have been moving pretty quickly . . . I don’t think that you will end up with a denial but you have more to check on than most.

BTW: Drug use and foreign contacts and travel are not “mitigating factors” they are “factors that need to be mitigated” . . . Not trying to be a jerk but the language is important to understanding.


Ed is correct on both fronts. Moving quite fast, and terminology. Depending on your age…they may look upon your recreational use as “regular,” not youthful experimentation. My not always accurate reading and estimation tells me it looks like you have at least 18 months of no recreational use, perhaps as much as 19 or 20. That is good. If they deem you a regular user or your age is above 24…they may want 24 to 36 months of no use. But I think on that point, if you have been completely honest it may be long enough. The foreign connection is always a concern as is the choice of foreign travel to China and Myanmar. Those aren’t deal breakers but they require scrutiny. It isn’t unusual to wait up to 12 months for a Secret clearance. Not getting the interim isn’t necessarily a bad thing or automatic no. It just means there are items, as mentioned above requiring investigation.


Thanks to both of you for the feedback! Terminology is definitely a useful thing to keep in mind throughout this process, so much appreciated. As far as drugs go, the last use was in June 2017, right around my 24th birthday, so it’s been about 25 months since last use – I’m now 26 years old. The foreign travel was during a backpacking trip in 2015, which was centered on an academic conference on Burma/Myanmar studies in Thailand (for my undergrad thesis) - so not exclusively to China and Myanmar but also Thailand and Korea. Since then I’ve also lived in Thailand for a summer internship at the UN, which might also complicate. For something like that, do investigators typically conduct concurrent investigations (say, in Thailand) to verify my internship and residence there?

Since it was education related as long as it was above board, no contact with known intelligence operatives or government people it is acceptable, but still requires scoping. That may slow you down considerably. I do believe it can go forward concurrently while other pieces are put together as well. I think the drug issue is mitigated. As long as you know moving forward it is prohibited. But the whole person concept may add a few points up such as drug use, foreign travel, types of countries…etc. I predict a slower than routine clearance, but if all else is above board, you will clear. It is a global world now, foreign travel isn’t the exotic thing it once seemed. They likely want to know what foreign contacts you kept, and their names, addresses, etc.

I am laughing at yet another person wiggling in hot seat of truth trying to claim regular but intermittent years of marijuana use as being “experimental.” 1-2 times is experimental. Geesh.

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I have seen a few adjudicators state roughly the same on what is experimental. I disagree with that stringent an interpretation. High school and college are years of youthful discovery. If they try to downplay regular use it is bad. They should say "High school and College I smoked regularly until about Junior year and workload got tough, wanted to graduate, stopped hanging out with knuckleheads working on basket weaving degrees…etc. In those case 24 plus months is preferable. Other times I’ve seen them essentially write off high school use. It can be a subjective area. My client defines regular use as most to every weekend. Heavy use is multiple times during week. Infrequent is "here and there, large gaps in between, and experimental is where I get differing answers. So once again it is an “it depends” answer.

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