1. Security Clearance FAQs
  2. Getting a Security Clearance

Security clearances for non-U.S. citizens

Exceptions for non-U.S. citizens to obtain a security clearance.

Non-U.S. citizens cannot obtain a security clearance. Executive Order 12968, Access to Classified Information, stipulates that eligibility to access classified information may only be granted to U.S. citizens.

There may be exceptions for specific situations. Limited Access Authorization (LAA) may be granted in rare circumstances where a non-U.S. citizen possesses a unique or unusual skill, or has expertise that is urgently needed. The need must be specific, and in general, the government must prove a current clearance holder is not available.

The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) and Industrial Security Letter (ISL) outlines the procedures for LAA, which may only be issued at the Secret level or below. Requests for non-U.S. citizens to obtain access to classified information must include a Letter of Justification (LOJ), and must be endorsed by the program executive officer or official responsible for the contract.

Per the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, the LOJ must contain the following information:

  1. The individual’s name, date and place of birth, position title, and current citizenship.
  2. The compelling reason for not employing a cleared or clearable U.S. citizen.
  3. A statement of the unusual expertise possessed by the applicant.
  4. A statement that access will be limited to a specific government contract (specify the contract number).
  5. A list of the specific material to which access is proposed (delineate as precisely as possible and identify any other GCA that may have jurisdiction over any of the material, if applicable).
  6. A statement that the classified information to be accessed is approved for release to the person’s country of citizenship.

The LOJ must be sent to the DSS along with proof of foreign citizenship (i.e. passport), copy of disclosure determination or export license, and foreign security clearance certificate (if available).