Applying for security clearance can seem overwhelming. The federal government will analyze every aspect of your life, whether you apply for secret, top-secret, or confidential security clearance. A range of factors can lead to a denied application, such as debt, drug use, and other actions the government believes are a risk to national security.
Many resources are available if you’re a contractor, active-duty service personnel, government employee, or reservist who has been denied security clearance. If you believe the denial is unjust, it is your right to appeal the decision.
How to Respond to a Denied Application for Security Clearance
It can take up to six months for the federal government to approve an application for security clearance. They will send a notice called a statement of reasons (SOR) if they choose to deny you. The letter outlines the disqualifiers, areas of concern, or specific reasons for the decision.
If you’re a federal employee, you can request to see the records and documents in your file that contributed to the denied application. If you don’t agree with the denial, you can respond to the reasons listed in the SOR in writing to the government. Your response should demonstrate why the decision might be an error, include relevant legal precedents, and explain mitigating factors that warrant reconsidering the initial decision.
The clearance adjudicator will review your response and determine if they agree with you. If they do, they will grant your security clearance. However, if they agree with the original denial, you’ll have to proceed with an appeal.
What Are Mitigating Factors?
A mitigating factor is a situation or condition that could explain or negate a reason that your application was denied. If you provide information about mitigating factors, you might prove you’re eligible for security clearance. The denial letter might include a list of conditions you must meet for the government to reconsider its decision.
Each case is different, but mitigating factors typically involve acts the applicant hasn’t participated in for a significant period or infrequently engaged in before applying. A mitigating factor can also include proof of completing a counseling program related to the disqualifier.
Common Errors Leading to Denied Security Clearance
Sometimes, a denial occurs because of a simple mistake an applicant makes on a form. Denials also result from applying without the required documentation. By avoiding these common errors, you can save yourself the hassle of reapplying or appealing the decision:
- Forgetting to include necessary documents
- Providing illegible or incomplete forms
- Offering inadequate explanation
- Submitting fingerprints after the deadline
How to Appeal a Security Clearance Denial
Government contractors and federal employees can file a formal appeal for a denied security clearance application. You must request a hearing before an administrative judge or the appeals board if you’re a federal employee. These parties will listen to your arguments and evaluate your reasoning for the appeal.
You must respond to various questions within twenty days if you’re a government contractor. You must also state whether you want a formal hearing or written decision regarding your response. Either way, you will receive records and documents associated with the decision.
Typically, formal hearings involve witnesses and additional evidence. Contractors with significant security concerns often prefer this method when appealing a denial.
If your appeal doesn’t work, you can reapply for security clearance if you’re already military personnel, a federal contractor, or a government employee. However, you can’t reapply until one year passes from the date of the original denial.
Contact Invictus Law Today
At Invictus Law, our Virginia Beach security clearance lawyers have a track record of success in handling complex cases. You should not pursue an appeal without seeking legal assistance. We bring the necessary experience and resources to reach favorable outcomes for our clients.
If you want to appeal a denied security clearance application, call us today at 757-317-5125 for your confidential consultation.