How Do I Check On My Security Clearance Status?

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

For many jobs in the government sector, you will need a security clearance. The Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) is the primary entity overseeing the entire process. Here is how to check on your security clearance status.

Different Levels of Security Clearance

A United States government security clearance determines what types of classified information that an applicant can see. Nearly 80% of the security clearances are for the Department of Defense (DoD) with other notable agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Energy (DoE), Department of Justice (DoJ) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A certain level of security clearance must be established to hold key government positions.

There are two types of security clearances: 1) Personnel Security Clearance (PCL) and 2) Facility Security Clearance (FCL). There are three main security clearance categories: 1) Confidential, 2) Secret and 3) Top Secret. The DoE has its own designations of “L” (Secret) and “Q” (Top Secret).

Generally, the “Top Secret” clearance is good for five years, “Secret” is good for ten years and “Confidential” is good for fifteen years. All are subject to “Periodic Reinvestigation” reviews to keep them “active.” The clearance is job-specific and “terminated” or “expired” when the employee leaves the position.

How do I apply for security clearance?

A security clearance application must be initiated by a prospective employer (usually a defense contractor or government agency). Generally, during the application process for a new government job, the applicant must also fill out the Form SF-86 “Questionnaire for National Security Positions.” This will require filling in the following information: name, address, residence, education, employment, family, friends, financial and foreign travel.

There may be interviews of your personal references and an Enhanced Subject Interview (ESI) for top clearances. The National Agency Check (NAC) looks into the applicant’s credit and criminal background. The government will also consider drug abuse and misuse of computers. The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) will review the applications.

“How long will it take to process my application?”

As of 2014, the wait for processing a top security clearance could range from 99 to 730 days. There is an “interim security clearance” or “interim eligibility,” which can be issued for defense contractors in a shorter amount of time. You can check on your clearance three ways: 1) Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS), 2) Security Investigations Index (SII) or call DoD at 1-888-282-7682.

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