63 Secret Security Clearance Disqualifiers You Should Know About

Secret security clearance disqualifiers are probably on your mind if you are in the lengthy process of obtaining your security clearance. While nobody is perfect, there are certain behaviors that the U.S. government won’t tolerate.

Since a security clearance of any level gives you access to classified information, the government must be able to trust you with this classified information.

Either you have a spotless record, or you fall into one of the following security clearance disqualifiers. In the latter case, depending on your age, the frequency of the behavior, or the seriousness of the situation, it may be a nonissue and just needs some investigation. Most of all, the biggest piece of advice when going through the security clearance process is to never lie.

Wether you’re pursuing a secret or top secret security clearance, here are 63 secret security clearance disqualifiers that you should know about.

Secret security clearance disqualifiers

Due to its lengthiness, the following list of guidelines for determining eligibility for access to classified information is broken up into 13 sections. Feel free to use the index below to jump to a particular secret security clearance disqualifier section that is of interest to you.

  1. Allegiance to the United States
  2. Foreign Influence
  3. Foreign Preference
  4. Sexual Behavior
  5. Personal Conduct
  6. Financial Considerations
  7. Alcohol Consumption
  8. Drug Involvement
  9. Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders
  10. Criminal Conduct
  11. Security Violations
  12. Outside Activities
  13. Misuse of Information Technology Systems

Allegiance to the United States

1. Involvement in any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, sedition, or other act whose aim is to overthrow the Government of the United States or alter the form of government by unconstitutional means

2. Association or sympathy with persons who are attempting to commit, or who are committing, any of the above acts.

3. Association or sympathy with persons or organizations that advocate the overthrow of the United States Government, or any state or subdivision, by force or violence or by other unconstitutional means.

4. Involvement in activities which unlawfully advocate or practice the commission of acts of force or violence that prevent others from exercising their rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any state.

Foreign Influence

5. An immediate family member, or a person to whom the individual has close ties of affection or obligation, is a citizen of, or resident or present in, a foreign country.

6. Sharing living quarters with a person or persons, regardless of their citizenship status, if the potential for adverse foreign influence or duress exists.

7. Relatives, cohabitants, or associates that are connected with any foreign government.

8. Failing to report, where required, associations with foreign nationals.

9. Unauthorized association with a suspected or known collaborator or employee of a foreign intelligence service.

10. Conduct which may make the individual vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign government.

11. Indications that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, coercion or pressure.

12. A substantial financial interest in a country, or in any foreign owned or operated business that could make the individual vulnerable to foreign influence.

Foreign Preference

13. The exercise of dual citizenship.

14. Possession and/or use of a foreign passport.

15. Military service or a willingness to bear arms for a foreign country.

16. Accepting educational, medical, or other benefits, such as retirement and social welfare, from a foreign country.

17. Residence in a foreign country to meet citizenship requirements.

18. Using foreign citizenship to protect financial or business interests in another country.

19. Seeking or holding political office in the foreign country.

20. Voting in foreign elections.

21. Performing or attempting to perform duties, or otherwise acting, so as to serve the interests of another government in preference to the interests of the United States.

Sexual Behavior

22. Sexual behavior of a criminal nature, whether or not the individual has been prosecuted.

23. Compulsive or addictive sexual behavior when the person is unable to stop a pattern of self-destruction or high-risk behavior or that which is symptomatic of a personality disorder.

24. Sexual behavior that causes an individual to be vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or duress.

25. Sexual behavior of a public nature and/or that which reflects lack of discretion or judgment.

Personal Conduct

26. Reliable, unfavorable information provided by associates, employers, coworkers, neighbors, or other acquaintances.

27. The deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant and material facts from any personnel security questionnaire, personal history statement, or similar form used to conduct investigations, determine employment qualifications, award benefits or status, determine security clearance eligibility or trustworthiness, or award fiduciary responsibilities.

28. Deliberately providing false or misleading information concerning relevant and material matters to an investigator, security official, competent medical authority, or other official representative in connection with a personnel security or trustworthiness determination.

29. Personal conduct or concealment of information that may increase an individual’s vulnerability to coercion, exploitation, or duress, such as engaging in activities which, if known, may affect the person’s personal, professional, or community standing or render the person susceptible to blackmail.

30. A pattern of dishonesty or rule violations, including violation of any written or recorded agreement made between the individual and the agency.

31. Association with persons involved in criminal activity.

Financial Considerations

32. A history of not meeting financial obligations.

33. Deceptive or illegal financial practices such as embezzlement, employee theft, check fraud, income tax evasion, expense account fraud, filing deceptive loan statements, or other intentional financial breaches of trust.

34. Inability or unwillingness to satisfy debts.

35. Unexplained affluence.

36. Financial problems that are linked to gambling, drug abuse, alcoholism, or other issues of security concern.

Alcohol Consumption

37. Alcoholrelated incidents away from work, such as driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, or other criminal incidents related to alcohol use.

38. Alcoholrelated incidents at work, such as reporting for work or duty in an intoxicated or impaired condition, or drinking on the job.

39. Diagnosis by a credentialed medical professional (e.g., physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist) of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.

40. Evaluation of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence by a licensed clinical social worker who is a staff member of a recognized alcohol treatment program.

41. Habitual or binge consumption of alcohol to the point of impaired judgment.

42. Consumption of alcohol, subsequent to a diagnosis of alcoholism by a credentialed medical professional and following completion of an alcohol rehabilitation program.

Drug Involvement

43. Any drug abuse.

44. Illegal drug possession, including cultivation, processing, manufacture, purchase, sale, or distribution.

45. Diagnosis by a credentialed medical professional (e.g., physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist) of drug abuse or drug dependence.

46. Evaluation of drug abuse or drug dependence by a licensed clinical social worker who is a staff member of a recognized drug treatment program.

47. Failure to successfully complete a drug treatment program prescribed by a credentialed medical professional. Recent drug involvement, especially following the granting of a security clearance, or an expressed intent not to discontinue use, will almost invariably result in an unfavorable determination.

Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders

48. An opinion by a credentialed mental health professional that the individual has a condition or treatment that may indicate a defect in judgment, reliability, or stability.

49. Information that suggests that an individual has failed to follow appropriate medical advice relating to treatment of a condition, e.g., failure to take prescribed medication.

50. A pattern of highrisk, irresponsible, aggressive, antisocial or emotionally unstable behavior.

51. Information that suggests that the individual’s current behavior indicates a defect in his or her judgment or reliability.

Criminal Conduct

52. Allegations or admissions of criminal conduct regardless of whether the person was formally charged.

53. A single serious crime or multiple lesser offenses.

Security Violations

54. Unauthorized disclosure of classified information;

55. Violations that are deliberate, multiple or due to negligence.

Outside Activities

56. Any service, whether compensated, volunteer, or employment with a foreign country.

57. Ay service, whether compensated, volunteer, or employment with a foreign national.

58. Any service, whether compensated, volunteer, or employment with a representative of any foreign interest.

59. Any foreign, domestic, or international organization or person engaged in analysis, discussion, or publication of material on intelligence, defense, foreign affairs, or protected technology.

Misuse of Information Technology Systems

60. Illegal or unauthorized entry into any information technology system.

61. Illegal or unauthorized modification, destruction, manipulation or denial of access to information residing on an information technology system.

62. Removal (or use) of hardware, software, or media from any information technology system without authorization, when specifically prohibited by rules, procedures, guidelines or regulations.

63. Introduction of hardware, software, or media into any information technology system without authorization, when specifically prohibited by rules, procedures, guidelines or regulations.


That finally concludes the lengthy list of possible security clearance disqualifiers.

While some of these are automatic disqualifiers for security clearances, others can be justified and mitigated. It is for that reason that you must always tell the truth.

Therefore, to ensure you get approved for your security clearance, wether that’s top secret or not, simply answer all questions on your security clearance questionnaire and that your investigator asks you accurately without omitting any information.

About The Author

With a strong software engineering background, Tony is determined to leverage the internet to positively impact as many people as possible. Discover why Tony quit his dream job to pursue this mission. You can send Tony a message here.

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