Top Secret Clearance - Please Help

I am looking for help and guidance from experts in this forum. I am new to the clearance process, so please bear with me if my questions seem silly.

I received a tentative offer (early July) for a federal job requiring top secret clearance.

I submitted OF306 first week of July and SF86 during 3rd week of July and noticed credit inquiry from OPM the week after. My wife and I are naturalized citizens, my parents are US permanent residents. I have a brother in India working for US multinational company since last several years. I do not have any other material foreign contacts. My background is completely clean and have excellent credit history.

Since the credit inquiry, there have not been any progress which worries me. It’s been almost 5 weeks since SF86 submission. Not only I haven’t heard anything about a personal interview, but none of my SF86 references have been contacted. From reading the forums, I would think case should have moved somewhat.

Now, I am aware of unfortunate USIS situation causing delays. But, I was wondering:

  1. If my case was with USIS, would they have automatically reassigned it to another contractor? Does OPM maintain overall queue from which cases are handled in order?

  2. Is there OPM fed investigator overseeing the investigation done by contractor company and ensures 1)?

  3. Assuming 1) and 2) , should I be worried that I haven’t heard anything?

  4. Is it possible that they are looking at granting interim clearance, which is why they haven’t contacted anyone yet?

I am new to the clearance process and not understanding different steps and sequence involved or having any visibility into SSBI process is making me very uncomfortable. I know it takes time, but I really want this to progress at least somewhat.

Thanks in advance.


Sad to say, but it’s a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of thing. These investigations do take a lot of time and are dependent upon many factors that just have to take time to work their own way out. When I started my own process, it took nearly a year from start to finish and I still hear of stories like this. No two investigations are alike… some can be done very quickly and some can take forever.

Having patience and keeping in touch with whoever your contact is at the hiring agency, is about the only advice that can be given.

Thanks for your response.

I understand that every case is different. But, do you or others know answers to some of my questions above?

Also, do we get notified if they approve/reject interim clearance? Is that decision generally made before or after the personal interview?

I’ve been at this for 10 years for reference.

5 weeks is not a long time at all. The average I’ve seen is three to four months from the time you submit your SF86 until you hear from an investigator.

  1. not sure. I don’t know what OPM is doing in this regard.

  2. No. Investigations conducted by contractors are completely separate from those conducted by the federal side. OPM has oversite overall but not individual investigations.

  3. No

  4. that’s up to the security officer but not a reason for you not being contacted.

An interim clearance can be granted before or after the interview. It’s up to the security officer. And yes you will advised if a clearance is denied or granted.

Hope it helps.

Thanks for your reply.

I thought average end-to-end time for investigation (if things go well) is 3-4 months, which means they will contact references and call you for personal interview probably earlier. So, I would think one would notice some progress within 5-6 weeks.

Did you really mean to say they don’t even contact references or schedule personal interview until 3-4 months? So essentially there is no ground work done until that time?

Pardon my ignorance, but that’s not what I have read in most forums. Please let me know if I am missing something.

There’s plenty of groundwork being done before it gets to the field.

Once you submit your SF86, it goes from the security officer to OPM. Once OPM processes it that’s when they begin all the record checks for you. There are a lot of records that get checked for you and in this case some for your family as they are naturalized citizens.

It can take upwards of three months to get to the field. Once the field investigator gets it, then we conduct the field work. Depending on where you’ve lived, gone to school and worked, there can be several investigators working your case nation and sometimes worldwide. Once they all complete their field work it will go on to review and adjudication. There can be a backlog there too. So my advice is relax and wait. There is literally NOTHING you can do to speed the investigation along except make sure you filled out the SF86 correctly and provide all the information the investigator requests.

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Spider, cacukgsis could not have put it in any better words for you in his last post. That’s about the extent of it. Yes it sucks playing that waiting game, but you’re in good company with so many that have come before you over the years.

cacukgsis, annoyed - Thanks for this valuable information. My confusion is also because HR/SO told me, it generally takes between 1-3 months and I should see some progress within month and a half (it’s over 5 weeks now, which makes me anxious). When I ask SO, all they say is that it’s with OPM.

In your opinions, what would be the best case scenario for me? If things go well, do I get interviewed in next couple of months (hopefully) and get my interim clearance (based on which I can start my federal job in November)? Field work can continue afterwards at the end of which I can get my final clearance, right? Do you think SO/HR were referring to this best-case scenario?

Are record checks (first 3 months or so) completed by OPM and field work activities done by likes of USIS? So, essentially field work doesn’t start until record checks are complete? If that’s the case, my case is not technically impacted by USIS shut-down, right?

cacukgsis, annoyed, other experts - any thoughts or comments on my questions above. Thank you for all your help.

@Spider—My timeline and yours are pretty similar. I got a call from an investigator to set an appointment (that was end of July) and then it went quite. Today I called OPM (724-794-5612) and spoke to a lady who explained to me that my case was being handled by USIS and due to the stop work order(s) everything is at a stand still. They don’t know if or when USIS will go back to work but she suggested I check next week may be there will be more information.

Try give them a call, you may be able to get more details abt your investigation too.

water - Thanks. I just saw your message and tried calling the OPM line. However, I couldn’t get to a live person by using the options. It seems you have to be calling from the agency to get the information. Any ideas?

Spider- Call the number—press 0 for the operator—then ask to be transferred to the freedom of information dept… then option 1. But before that go to the site under investigations—requesting investigations tab and fill out the inv100 form you have options to send it in. Once they get the form when you call back someone in that extension should be able to give you your status. That line is always busy…Ive had better luck around 10 to 12 EST. Hope that helps.