Saturday, April 24, 2021

Security clearance eligibility and working for foreign companies

I've recently received many emails from people who are curious about security clearances and working for foreign owned companies. Though the volume of those questions have increased, I guess the topic is no longer surprising in content as it could have been many years ago.

Many years ago, we might automatically assume that working for a foreign owned company would be indicative of highly questionable practices, but maybe not any longer. 

Things have changed. More foreign owned companies are opening doors in the U.S. Internet opportunities open doors to employment. Working for foreign companies provides new opportunities regardless of boarders such as: investment, teleworking, and creative content services that allow artists to bid on customer jobs have made this more of a possibility. 

But the questions have been pretty vague and hard to answer. 

  • Am I allowed to work for a foreign company if I have a security clearance?
  • Will I be able to get a security clearance if I work for a foreign company?

The questions are vague because there are so many scenarios that the questions can reflect. Some scenarios include:

  • You are currently employed by a cleared defense contractor and have a security clearance and want to quit and work for a foreign owned company, and would one day like to return to working with a clearance. This scenario is very risky as you could lose out on future employment, but can be mitigated.
  • You do not have a security clearance, but may one day like to work on classified contracts in some capacity. However you want to apply to work for a foreign owned company. This scenario is less risky because you have nothing to lose other than the possibility of getting a clearance "one day".

There are many other scenarios and reasons describable and all are different and my answer would be, "It depends on the scenario". Additionally, it may depend on the security clearance level such as SECRET, TOP SECRET SCI, etc.

The bottom line is, can you be entrusted with national secrets because of  employment with a foreign owned company? Having a security clearance is a very important responsibility. The security clearance holder is responsible for protecting classified information and supporting the security program to protect that classified data. 

This opportunity is based on the adjudication process. Security clearance award is provided after the adjudication of the investigation results. Allegiance to the United States and Foreign Influence are two very important considerations that would have to be addressed prior to awarding the security clearance.

There are many ways to adjudicate risks under Allegiance to the United States, Foreign Influence and other adjudicative criteria. There are no automatic answers to these questions since it depends on the situation. Get all the facts prior to taking on such a job, determine your risk level, and develop a strategy to mitigate the risk to your security clearance. 

If you have questions about this or other security clearance topics, visit my consulting site or email me at 

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 Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . He regularly consults, presents security training, and recommends export compliance and intellectual property protection countermeasures. 

Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances"

"How to Get U.S. Government Contracts and Classified Work"

"ISP(R) and ISOC Master Exam Prep"

 and training:  

NISPOM Fundamentals/FSO Training

Cleared Employee Training

Jeff is available to consult. Consulting Website"

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