I currently work for an agency that has sponsored me for a security clearance. After a year, it is still "in process" (whatever that means). I'm not looking to leave any time soon but if I decide to, or need to (for reasons outside of my control), before my clearance is fully approved, what happens to it? I don't have an interim clearance or any idea how much longer I need to wait for the process to complete.

I looked at the responses for a similar question, but they refer to someone who already completed the process, not someone who is in the middle of it and doesn't have an interim clearance.

I'm in the US, going for a Secret level clearance.

  • 4
    Possible duplicate of What happens to security clearance when not hired, leaving or moving companies?
    – David K
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 14:31
  • 2
    For the sake of clarity, you may want to indicate what country you're in, and exactly what sort of clearance you are talking about.
    – dwizum
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 14:32
  • I looked at the potential duplicate question, and have updated mine to better reflect my specific situation.
    – DWShore
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 15:24
  • 1
    "After a year, it is still "in process" (whatever that means)" - clearancejobs.com explains the process, provides statistics on average wait times, etc.
    – user25792
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


USA, I assume, but once you leave, they simply deactivate the clearance. Since it's midway in the approval pipe, it'll simply be thrown out. Your next employer, if it is a security clearance position, will have to reactivate it. Since it was in the process of being investigated, most likely it'll be started all over again.

The way it works is that when you have a passed clearance, your current company deactivates it upon you leaving. The expiration is still counting down so if the clearance expiration time hasn't passed, your next employer will ask the government to reactivate it until the expiration time.

It's far beneficial to have it come back as passed and then leave. You're a bit more viable that way since your next employer won't have to spend as much money since all they'd do is ask it to be reactivated.

  • 3
    +1 - Though it's less money than you'd think; it's moreso the time commitment than outright cost.
    – user83977
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 15:59
  • Yeah, I forget the % of people who fail, but if you have a clearance already, they know they won't have to waste time in that regard.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 16:37
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    I will provide an echo into the echo chamber, indicating that it is far easier to get a security clarance once one has been approved, rather then having to go through the entire process again. The delay for a secret clearance is currently very long. If your background is extremely complicated (i.e. multiple homes, multiple jobs, ect.) that will only add to your delay. Only you know how complicated your background is, but based on the fact it's been over a year, you would be looking at that same delay again (or even a greater amount of time).
    – Donald
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 16:55
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    @Donald Yep, 100% true. Also, depending on the level you're getting, they may have to interview your past coworkers and neighbors. With that said, by moving jobs mid investigation, that means your next application would put this job as your most recent and the investigator would be very interested in interviewing these co-workers over any other. If you're leaving on a bad note, then that might not go well with your investigation process. So it would take 1 year + possibly failing the clearance due to the investigation process. This is a very remote possibility but entirely possible.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 17:30
  • @iDriveSidewayz Cost isn't necessarily to do with the investigation aspect, but also, as you pointed out, cost in hiring an employee then having to find a new one after the failed investigation. At that point, you'd be a year in and the company would have to scramble to find a new person all the while training that person again. I notice some positions require that you already have an active security clearance before they even consider you. Some companies give big bonuses for referrals of security clearance so it's clearly a big investment by the company.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 19:22

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