TS SCI Clearance - Do I have a chance and timeline?


I recently accepted a Federal position with one of the large executive branch agencies in early July and extremely excited for this dream opportunity. However, it requires a TS SCI level clearance (a required polygraph was not mentioned) and I was hoping to see if I had a chance to get cleared and average timeframe for my background. I was favorably adjudicated for a Public Trust (T2 level) back in 2015 and have been working as a Federal Contractor at that clearance level since. However I made a couple dumb mistakes several years ago that I’m afraid will hurt my chances. Top of that list is a DUI in 2013 in college while just trying to move my car in a parking lot. I withdrew my appeal in 2015 and DL was restored Jan 2016. I also sporadically tried weed 2-4 times between 2013-2015 in college and once while in a low-risk contractor position. However, I’ve had 0 use for nearly 4 and a half years now and nothing else. I also received a minor write up at work in 2014 for leaving work early in a retail position that was actually a miscommunication between managers aka 2 bosses said I could leave at different times.

Long story short, would 1 DUI, minor weed use, and a past write up prevent me from getting cleared for a TS SCI, even though it was many years ago? Thanks so much.

Whoops, accidentally deleted my post!

Congrats on the spot.

The two biggest things during the clearance process will be 1.) Candor, and 2.) Time.

More time elapsed would be better, but experimental weed usage is almost expected among young people. Just be up front about that, mention that you have no intent on breaking federal law any more and it was experimental.

For the DUI, as long as you’re being up front 6 years is a good amount of time passed. It was in college, and as long as you’re incident free I don’t see an issue. The point of the clearance process is to discover patterns about who you are (willfully breaking laws over and over) and not mistakes made in college that you’ve since learned from.

The squabble at work I wouldn’t even worry about. The investigator will probably just be verifying you worked there at the times you stated.

I don’t see either of these being dealbreakers, as long as you’re up front and in the open about them.


Thank you! I also haven’t been out of the country either, which I know that helps. I do have 2 foreign contacts but one is my Aunt who is married to my uncle who a retired US army veteran and a British friend. It’s with State and they said it could take up to 6 months because they have their own in-house investigators, but yeah anything could happen

Yeah those probably won’t be an issue.

State might be a little faster, real hard to say though. And as far as I know they don’t poly, so that’s a plus. Those aren’t fun. Good luck, and welcome to the wait!

There are some investigators on here who may chime in and provide advice that I cannot, since I’m not an investigator.

I am unfamiliar with the Public Trust questions, but curious…you mention smoking weed 2013 to 2015, and getting a public trust in 2015? Does the public trust question use of recreational drugs, were you honest, and still granted a Public Trust position? I think enough time has passed since the use, but if it was concealed on the Public trust paperwork, you have another issue, candor. The DUI would be overcome as well as leaving work early, just capture it as the company did.

The public trust questions about drug use is only for the previous year. During my public trust investigation, my most recent use was outside the past year timeframe so I could say no to it. But I tried it again once after I got cleared, which I regret. I’ve had no use for 4 years now and do not ever plan on trying weed again.

I’m fairly certain you violated the rules for Public Trust. Much like having a clearance, the minimum time of no use is 12 months if under age 24. Using, even once while holding a position of Public Trust is treated more harshly than prior to holding it. Same with a clearance. Now, you have 4 years since no use. That is a plus. But they may very well see you held a Public trust, and violated public trust…“why should we trust you will follow the rules this time?” Is what you are facing. You must be honest and explain this. However, they may not compare this to your Public Trust paperwork. Regardless, be honest.


This based on the assumption that you haven’t disclosed the recent drug use.

To be honest, I would not risk going for a position requiring security clearance based on your situation. Even though you haven’t used the drug in 4 plus years, you knowingly used it WHILE in a public trust position. I would wait a few more years if I were you. If you really want the job, might as well arm yourself with a security clearance attorney.

I am not saying it is impossible hurdle, lack of candor is a high bar to overcome.

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Where did you see that no use if under 24? Do you have a source?

Are you suggesting I email my hiring manager immediately and tell him to close the investigation and withdraw my tentative offer? I know i was at risk due to that 2015 use and should have waited 3 more years till 2022 ( outside 7 year timeframe…)

If I were you, I would consult a security clearance attorney before making a decision. If I am unable to afford one, I would probably cancel this job and wait a few years.

However, there is a chance that you will be favorably adjudicated given the “subjective” nature of the security clearance process. Hey, I have been proven wrong here on this forum. I simply think it is too great of a risk, this is especially true without a security clearance attorney. Also, a denial potentially has a trickle down effect on current public trust position.

It would have been different if you had reported the usage while holding public trust position, but you didn’t… hence the advice.

Also, this is simply my opinon… If this is with a Justice Department (DOJ) agencies, I will definitely withdraw and wait. I find that DOJ agencies are more stringent in this area, again… that is simply my opinion.

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I’ve been doing this job for 30 years. Over time you learn the rough parameters of where decisions fall. Numerous conferences reaffirm this information and constant communication with clearance folks.

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Concur Awood. The “use” while trusted complicates.

And here’s why it’s good that security pros and investigators hang out on this board.

In MY opinion and limited experience, it would seem like a mitigatable circumstance. I agree that using (even once) while in a public trust is an issue, but if it’s still in the frame of being young and dumb I would think that’s able to be overcome. The timeline you’ve laid out doesn’t sound like a habit of breaking federal law.

I was once told by a recruiter ‘Yeah, if we didn’t clear people that had smoked weed before, we wouldn’t be able to hire most people 21-40’

Just my two cents though. Sounds like others disagree.

None of us claim you cannot hire someone who previously smoked weed. I get people cleared all the time who are honest about previous drug use. And you are correct on time being greatly in the OP’s favor. However, you enter an entirely different category when you are in a Public Trust or cleared position. You know it isn’t legal. You are trusted to follow rules. Can the government trust you will honor your agreement to protect Classified material? What other rules would you knowingly violate? If someone was aware you smoked and tried to black mail you, threatening your job…would you perhaps make a decision to comply that you otherwise never would? Why would “we” believe you honor your word if your behavior indicates otherwise? And so on. That is the realm of items requiring consideration. Now, if this was in a period of extreme distress, not likely to repeat itself…can the benefit of the doubt be given? Absolutely. Hence why many questions here can only be answered with “it depends.” Use of the whole person construct is important. But some items are definite showstoppers. In my experience…drug use is one of them. I actually have a cleared person right now in a re-investigation who had a one of use about 2 years ago. It will be interesting to see how this plays out directly with a cleared person (Secret). Granted not the same as a Public Trust, but as social mores evolve on topics it is always interesting to see what is blessed and what is not. Absolutely no judgement here, just speaking from my experiences.

I just called an experienced security clearance attorney and received a free consultation. He was not worried about it at all regarding the marijuana use while in a position of public trust. He said he’s seen people with high level clearances get favorably adjudicated with much more serious use than me. He did say that the agency might send more paperwork to me and drug test, if that happens then hire him. Overall advice was to keep my application going and be truthful and explain how I was young and have no intention of doing it again.


I would defer to qualified legal advice. Keep us posted. This is how we sharpen our knowledge, and learn rough parameters of what passes, what does not. It evolves over time so it is always good watching a person go through the process currently to add to our knowledge base. Time is definitely in your favor. Normally 12 month minimum, and up to 3 years if cleared…and you held a similar position. So with 4 years…you are on the good side of time.


I hate seeing the advice “wait a few years” here so often . . . “A few years” is a significant amount of time in a career. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about a 40 year old making a career change or a 23 year old just starting out. A few years can make the difference between having a career and not.

We regularly see people here who clear or reclear with small amounts of grass usage. Even if the usage was while cleared. This isn’t 1980 any more. Grass is ubiquitous. When my then wife applied for her first clearance in 1992, she was told, “you have never done drugs, you have never been around anyone doing drugs, you don’t know anyone who has done drugs.” When I applied in 2016, I told the investigator that my father ran a meth lab when I was a teen. She didn’t bat an eye, it was briefly mentioned in her report and didn’t enter into my SOR.

They can’t reject applicants who once smelled a joint at a party anymore.


I think the bigger issue is the non-disclosure. This creates a perception of dishonesty (lack of candor). This, alone, can hurt the applicant. See discussion on Guideline E: http://ogc.osd.mil/doha/industrial/10-07685.h1.pdf. In that case, there was also another case in which the Board said something to the effect that telling the truth before being confronted may not be sufficient (mitigated).

Here the applicant knew or should have known that such use was against the rule. SF-85 specifically asked that question. Additionally, this wasn’t an one-time use as there was a history of uses. This can simply open a can of worms hence the advice.

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A single use, while holding a public trust, not a clearance, and then clear for over years. If the non-disclosure is the bigger issue, then how does that change by suggesting that the applicant wait ANOTHER few years? I’m not saying that this is a non-issue. I’m saying that this can be mitigated and they can clear. Putting your life on hold for several years because of an error going on five years ago makes no sense. Even on the slight chance that there would be a denial, that’s not likely to hurt them any more than waiting.

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