When are suitability denials given?

Is there a certain period after submitting the sf86 when you can expect to get a suitability denial if issues on your sf86 are overwhelming? Or can they be given at any period throughout the BI?

I would suspect that it could happen at any time but I think that most, in fact, happen BEFORE the SF-86 is submitted for investigation.


Ed is correct. An FSO can reject the SF86 if they feel it is a bridge too far, HR (depending on level of sharing between FSO and HR) can also want to move on without submitting a candidate who may take 2 years. Clearance folks can investigate, and find several disqualifying items. My job is to submit only those we believe we can get cleared. So we will not submit recreational drug use within 12 months, and we will not submit recreational drug use within 3 years if cleared while using. We screen out those with sub 650 credit scores as well. I caveat that…if they are in a robust repayment plan with all creditors and no other risk factors. If they are repaying some, not others…I will not submit.


For federal employee, it is usually given after the adjudication… however, a security manager can reject your applications upon review, but unlikely. Once a background investigation started or accepted by the investigative agency, it usually runs its course.

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amber, would your job submit someone that has had a clearance denial due to illegal downloading, but someone who hasn’t downloading anything in over a year and a half? I got denied by NSA under the criminal conduct guideline (never charged with anything).

Just curious how my situation would be handled from an HR/FSO perspective.

I would ask if they are comfortable sharing the denial letter. I would want to fully understand all elements of the denial. I had a few want reinstated 366 days later but did not want to share the letter, claimed they lost it, didn’t know where it was, etc. When I told them I would not submit without it, they always managed to find it. I really do not know how long they want post non legal downloads to show it is mitigated. SInce the Snowden and Chelsea Manning case it rose in significance from my estimation. Come clean, own it and be up front.

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Alright, cool. Yeah I’m keeping that SOR and showing it to anyone that wants to see.

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Amberbunny- In your opinion, what are the chances for someone with a less than 650 credit score to get an approval in the adjudication process?

The stats I see show a 97% approval down to 650. Between 650 and 630 they show (at the snapshot in time) 67% getting cleared. From 630 to 600…only 33% cleared. Other agencies may use a different sliding scale, but these were actual approval rates for mine. What is key: getting into a repayment plan ASAP. Once you make a few payments that moves the debt from unaddressed to addressed debt and scores recover rather quickly. The downside, if you miss payments…it falls quicker. So get into a repayment plan for legit debts, challenge anything not yours. If the low score was due to loss of job, spouse income or catastrophe…that is understandable. If it was simply overuse of credit cards and non payment, non payment of taxes, school loans…that tells another story. They understand if there is no income…there is no outcome. Or if it is limited income, get in touch, stay in touch and see what you can do to make it right. Ignoring it never works out. Prove you are engaged and you will quickly see results. I would want to be in a repayment plan with all creditors, and have at least 4 to 5 payments on each prior to meeting with my investigator. Bring all the proof with you and lay it on the table, give copies.


Amberbunny- May I ask you a question based off your wealth of knowledge on this topic? What would the chances be of someone obtaining suitability adjudication (DOD position that requires a secret clearance but is non-sensitive- I believe) w/ a recent (less than a year ago) petty theft misdemeanor charge that was dismissed? This is the one and only blemish on that persons record.The individual has taken numerous steps to mitigate the criminal conduct. I’m just wondering if it will be automatic no go after the eQip and finger prints are submitted.

There are many contradictions in your scenario: non-sensitive positions do not require a Secret; theft charge that was dismissed means he does not have a conviction/criminal record. If that arrest is teh only issue then there should be no problem unless this is for police office or law enforcement position, and even then depending on the circumstances, it might pass muster.


Yeah I meant non-critical sensitive position within the DOD, it definitely requires a secret clearance. My bad for mixing up the terminology and appreciate your response. It will be an ANACI type of investigation. I just wasn’t sure if they would be able to deem the applicant as suitable for employment so the applicant may be able to begin working while they complete the investigation, or if that one charge would mean they have to wait until the investigation is complete. The agency wants the applicant to begin ASAP.

How long does it take till a federal agency finds you suitable? Is it a forever thing that you will be denied? Law enforcement perspective

I agree with Marko. Certainly not a deal breaker. The term “dismissed” can mean differing things. Anything from the prosecution failed to prove its case, they had no case, to you made restitution and they didn’t want to damage your future. Circumstances leading tot he charge can be more important than the overall outcome. If it was a prank gone bad, or a nuisance ending in a charge? For me, “Dismissed” means it cannot be legally proved…therefor the presumption of innocence goes to you. Period. This is showing up in a major way right now in a very public case. Many walk away refusing to believe the accused is innocent simply because an accusation was made. Continue to mitigate the charge by living right and adding distance on the calendar.

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Thanks Amberbunny, I appreciate your response. Unfortunately, time cannot be added to the calendar as the BI process is going on as we speak. When listed on the SF-86 and e-qip, should the applicant go into significant detail about the event and attach copies of the court documents of the dismissed charge? Is there such a thing as providing too much detail, incriminating at that, especially for a dismissed case? The details will come out when speaking to the investigator, but should those same details be listed on the sf-86/ E-qip? Not trying to hide anything, but also I’d think that providing too much detail might not be required and may cause OPM to deny a suitability determination for employment. Your thoughts? Thanks again.

If you spoke to it…you eliminated possibility of anyone claiming you attempted to hide it. The BI folks here often state “better you reported, than they uncovered or developed info on.” You can over report…and that is not my intent when I use the term. You want to be forthcoming and honest. If you didn’t play it down or make it a much lesser event you should have no problems with them reading the actual charges,and how it was handled. However, you could be denied an interim as they tightened up the ship on those. It doesn’t mean you will not get a full clearance, just that an adjudicator must weigh and decide.



You are a right proper mensch, and everyone on this board appreciates you. If I could bother you with one clarifying question:

I submitted my SF-86 last summer to an IC agency, and had the poly/med early this summer, and it looks the like BI wrapped up a couple of months ago.

If I wasn’t “suitable” based on some college drug use/a smattering of other minor things, I would have received the suitability rejection ages ago, correct? At this point, it seems like I’m entering into the “adjudication” phase, but I have no foreign contacts and virtually no foreign travel, so I’m not worried at all about that stuff. Just wondering if, assuming the drug use was a deal-breaker, I’d have been notified already?

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In order to be declared suitable, your case has to be adjudicated. So no, you shouldn’t assume that you are good to go.

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Thats what I did, thanks for that advice also, without it I would have been dead in the water.
My plan seemed to be very favorable to my investigator and the fact I have already paid in full a few of the debts helped big time.
Paid for a few the rest that was unpaid was in a settlement plan.
Had proof of the plan and when I started and had settlement letters and settlement paid in full letters ready for the investigator when we met.
They appreciated me being prepared and organized and having everything ready to go. Lets hope all of that was enough. Seemed like it was.

That sounds like a homerun to me! Keep us posted