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I recently got a summer internship, and I need a secret clearance for this. Apparently it will be interim, for obvious reasons, but I was just wondering if the background check/investigation process was any different for interim clearances than permanent ones.

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I've had both internships and full-time work in the defense industry. I've never heard of anyone only getting an interim clearance. They usually grant an interim after you submit the paperwork and they start the process and decide that the likelihood of problems coming up is low.

The interim clearance exists to let you start receiving your classified training, access the classified facilities, and begin work on the projects while the investigation and paperwork are concluding.

I suppose it's possible, though, but you should prepare for the exact same paperwork and process as anyone else getting your clearance level and consult the security office after you start to learn more. If you're accessing classified material, you will have an exit briefing at the end of your internship where they will explain how long your clearance is valid and what you may need to do should a future employer need to reinstate your clearance.

  • This matches my experience in the US. And I don't think I've heard of an employer that would pay the considerable cost for an intern who'll be gone in a few months, long before final approval comes through. Even my interim took a couple months, as I recall, though maybe they're faster now. – Monica Cellio Mar 22 '17 at 2:45
  • I just would like to add a +1 to this. I have the same exact experience (US). I got my interim clearance while a longer process (took around two months) to get "permanent" clearance. During the interim period I had training, and started some simple work, then later with the "permanent" clearance I was given my "full" work. Keep in mind, that depending on level, the process is really not much more then waiting, but you should have access to a "Security Officer " (ask HR) that can answer any questions you may have. – coteyr Mar 22 '17 at 2:54
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    @MonicaCellio A previous employer only hired co-ops for 6 month or longer blocks because of the time. Most people had their interim in 2-3 months and there was sufficient unclassified work around the system to ramp up on before it came through. But the duration is a concern, for sure. Although I did interview people for co-op positions who had TS or even TS/SCI from internships, which I thought was odd due to the time and cost. – Thomas Owens Mar 22 '17 at 11:30

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