What Steps Should You Take If Your Security Clearance Is Denied?

What Steps Should You Take If Your Security Clearance Is Denied?

If you ever decide to apply for a security clearance, you might feel intimidated. Applying for confidential, secret, or top-secret security clearance, expect to have all your life details go through analysis and interpretation. However, your application may be denied for various reasons like drug involvement, financial debt or affluence, reckless sexual behavior, gambling addiction, undue foreign influence, technology misuse, or other behavior the government considers as a risk to national security. If you’re a federal employee or government contractor, and your application for security clearance has been denied, there are numerous recourses available to you. If you believe that you have been wrongly denied a security clearance you can appeal for a reversal of the decision. The best way to do it is with the help of a New Mexico security clearance attorney.

How to Respond to the Denial

The federal government may need up to six months to approve your application for security clearance. If you’re denied, you will be issued a notice (a “Statement of Reasons” or SOR) that describes the specific reasons, disqualifiers, or areas of concern that determined the decision. If you're a federal employee who disagrees with the decision can first request to see the documents and records on file that led to the denial. You can then respond in writing to the reasons cited in the SOR. This response (may be required in as few as 15 days) should explain why the decision may be wrong, show any mitigating factors that would deserve reconsideration of the decision, and cite relevant legal precedents. If the clearance adjudicator agrees with you, you can expect your clearance to be given. If not, you must move on to the formal appeal stage.

Mitigating Factors

You may also be given a list of conditions (with the reasons for denial) that if you meet, your denial may be reconsidered. Every case is different, but your mitigating factors might include proof that you have engaged only occasionally in an act or weren't involved in it for a long time, or you have completed a counseling program linked to the disqualifying factor. There is a host of mitigating factors that could prove your eligibility for access to classified information and finally grant you a security clearance.

Appealing the Decision

If you're a federal employee or a government contractor, you can formally appeal a security clearance denial. As a federal employee, you can request a hearing before the appeals board or administrative judge, where your case will be heard and evaluated. If you're a government contractor, expect to be asked a series of questions that you must answer within 20 days. You must also state whether you want to have a written decision or a formal hearing about your response. In both cases, the documents and records related to the decision will be available to you. A formal hearing may involve further evidence and witnesses and contractors with important security concerns usually prefer it.

Can You Reapply?

Federal contractors, civilian government employees, and military employees can reapply for a security clearance after one year. Just because you were previously denied a security clearance, that doesn’t mean that you won't get one when you reapply. Today keeping your current job or apply for others is often conditional upon your ability to get and keep a certain required level of security clearance eligibility, including for Positions of Trust (POTs). In many cases, no security clearance means no job. You may be the most qualified candidate for a position, but you won't get the job if you can’t get the clearance that goes with the job.

Legal Help

If you're facing a security clearance denial, the best thing is to seek help from a skilled and experienced attorney. They will make sure to write clear written responses, properly researched, and that they are completely inclusive of the mitigating factors that can verify your security clearance. If you got a hearing, your security clearance attorney will know exactly how to present your mitigating evidence to the appropriate board or judge. Your lawyer will keep your appeal moving forward on time. If your case is complex, your attorney can question witnesses and better understand what kind of information hearing officers and judges need to thoroughly evaluate your case. Our team at FBD Law has experience in this area. We're here to offer you the help you seek and answer your questions. Contact FBD Law and schedule your first consultation.
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