Security Clearance

Please select an option below to read more information about security clearance requirements and expectations.

  • New Professionals - Information for New Professionals without any prior investigation history for a Secret Security Clearance level or higher.
  • Returning Scholars Professionals – Details and updates for Returning Professionals or new Professionals who have open investigations and/or an active security clearance.

New Professionals

If you are selected as an AFRL Scholar Professional, you may be required to complete the necessary paperwork to obtain a government Secret Security Clearance. A thorough investigation will be conducted on the information that you provide.

If you are a first-time professional in AFRL Scholar Professionals but already have an active security clearance or an open investigation for Secret level or higher, please read the information for Returning Scholars Professionals.

The process to obtain a Secret Security Clearance prior to the professional experience is extensive. If selected, you will be required to provide information for all of the topics below (not all topics are listed):

  • Personal Contact Information
  • Citizenship documents (e.g. Naturalization Certificate)
  • Residence History
  • Educational History
  • Employment Record
  • Military History
  • People who know you well
  • Relatives Information (all immediate relatives including estranged, living, deceased)
  • Foreign Contacts
  • Foreign Activities
  • Foreign Travel
  • Police Record (7 year history)
  • Illegal Drug Use (7 year history)
  • Use of Alcohol (7 year history)


Immediate Disqualifiers – Several factors can affect the investigation but immediate disqualifiers are:

  • Less than full disclosure of any required information (positive or negative)
  • Illegal Drug Use (within 7 years)
  • DUI (within 7 years)
  • Probation
  • Foreign Relations that can compromise government security


If for any reason a Secret Security Clearance is unable to be acquired, the offer for Scholar Professional may be rescinded.

Returning Scholars Professionals

If you are selected as an AFRL Scholar Professional and have an active security clearance, your clearance will be held by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) for the duration of your experience.

In order for your clearance to be held by USRA, you will be required to complete and submit information requested by USRA’s Facility Security Officer (FSO) within the communicated deadlines. You will also be asked to provide an update (when applicable) to your initial investigation in compliance with reporting requirements. Please see below for details.

Cleared Employee Reporting Requirements

Any individual who has been granted a personnel security clearance (PCL) by the U.S. Government is required to report the following issues to Security for investigation, resolution, and reporting to the appropriate government agency.

1. Adverse Information

You must report the following types of information about yourself or other employees:

  • arrests or convictions for criminal offenses including drunk driving;
  • financial difficulties, including bankruptcy, excessive indebtedness, and wage garnishments;
  • bizarre or notorious behavior;
  • alcoholism, use of illegal drugs, or abuse of legal drugs;
  • emotional or psychological problems requiring treatment or hospitalization;
  • affluence (wealth, acquisitions, investments) beyond known sources of income.


2. Change in Personal Status

If you have a collateral CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, or TOP SECRET clearance, you must report:

  • a change in name;
  • a change in marital status (i.e., marriage or divorce);
  • a change in citizenship;
  • when access to classified information is no longer required due to a change in job assignments.


3. Representative of a Foreign Interest (RFI)

You must report when you begin to act as a representative of or consultant to any foreign entity, including a government, a government agency, a commercial business, or a person.

4. Security Violations/Vulnerabilities

Security violations/vulnerabilities include:

  • the careless or unintentional failure to comply with security requirements for safeguarding classified information;
  • the intentional disregard of security requirements;
  • any failure to comply with security requirements, regardless of intent, that has resulted in the loss, compromise, or suspected compromise of classified information;
  • the unauthorized receipt of classified material;
  • significant vulnerabilities discovered in equipment or systems designed to protect classified information.


5. Espionage, Sabotage, Subversive Activities

You must immediately report any situation related to actual, probable, or possible espionage, sabotage, or subversive activities directed at the United States.

6. Suspicious Contacts

You must report:

  • any efforts by any individual, regardless of nationality, to obtain illegal or unauthorized access to classified information or to compromise any cleared employee;
  • any contact by a cleared employee with known or suspected intelligence officers from any country;
  • any contact which suggests you or another employee may be the target of an attempted exploitation by the intelligence services of another country.


The Defense Hotline

The DoD maintains an anonymous hotline for employees to report, without fear of reprisal, known or suspected instances of serious security irregularities concerning government contracts, programs, or projects. The Defense Hotline numbers are (800) 424-9098 or (703) 693-5080. In most instances, however, reports of suspected incidents of espionage/sabotage or serious security violations should be made to USRA’s FSO.

Security FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions regarding security clearances and other related information.

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