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Understanding Guideline C – Foreign Preference

Today, we cover Guideline C of the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information: Foreign Preference.

Military personnel, government employees, and government contractors who need access to classified information to perform their job duties must obtain a security clearance. Those who are denied clearance after applying for it are given a Statement of Reasons, which lists one or more of the 13 adjudicative guidelines as reasons for denying the application.

When the government denies clearance to an applicant under Guideline C, this means there is concern the applicant might “be prone to provide information or make decisions that are harmful to the interests of the United States,” according to information on the U.S. Department of State website.

Some conditions that could raise a security concern and may disqualify you include:

  • Possessing a current foreign passport
  • Serving in the military or being willing to bear arms for a foreign country
  • Seeking or holding political office in a foreign country
  • Making statements or taking actions that show allegiance to a country other than the U.S., such as renouncing or declaring intent to renounce U.S. citizenship

As is the case with all adjudicative guidelines, there are some mitigating conditions. Examples of these include:

  • Your dual citizenship is based solely on your parents’ citizenship or birth in a foreign country
  • You’re willing to renounce dual citizenship
  • Exercising your foreign citizenship rights, privileges or obligations took place before becoming a U.S. citizen or when you were a minor
  • Voting in a foreign election was encouraged by the United States government

The September 2013 decision by the Department of Defense’s Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals to deny eligibility for access to classified information under Guideline B (Foreign Influence) and Guideline C serves as a good example for our article today.

The applicant, in this case, is a dual citizen of Israel and the U.S., according to information in the decision. He has worked for a government contractor since 1996. Evidence presented during the hearing showed he had renewed his Israeli passport several times and had traveled to Israel on that passport multiple times through the years, instead of using his American passport.

The applicant’s wife and one of his children also hold dual citizenship. His son was born in the U.S. and obtained dual citizenship so he could receive a scholarship to attend a prestigious Israeli University to earn his master’s degree.

The applicant inherited property in Israel after his parents died valued at about $400,000 which earns him about $1,200 per month in rental income. He also inherited a bank account in Israel worth about $115,000.

When stating that he would renounce his Israeli citizenship if the DoD required it for security clearance purposes, he added he “would not do it happily.”

Israel is among the foreign countries that target and acquire sensitive and protected U.S. technologies, according to the information included in the decision. Authorities identified Israel as an “active collector of proprietary information” in a 2000 National Counterintelligence Center Report to Congress on Foreign Economic and Industrial Espionage.

After considering all the evidence, Administrative Judge Jennifer I. Goldstein concluded: “In light of all of the circumstances presented by the record in this case, it is not clearly consistent with the national interest to grant Applicant eligibility for a security clearance. Eligibility for access to classified information is denied.”

This applicant acted on his own behalf throughout the security clearance application, Statement of Reasons response, and hearing process. While it is acceptable to do this, it’s not always advisable, says John Griffith, an attorney who specializes in this area of law and routinely assists clients who aren’t well versed in how to obtain a security clearance.

“It’s not possible to determine if the outcome would have been different, had this applicant retained a lawyer to assist him through the application and hearing process,” Griffith says. “But when you’re involved in a process that potentially can affect your ability to earn a living, I think it’s a wise choice to consult an attorney.”

The attorneys here at Security Clearance Law Group offer a complimentary consultation to discuss your options and explain how they can assist you throughout the security clearance application process. Call today to schedule an appointment.