People either have a clearance or they do not have a clearance.
The Personnel Security Investigation (PSI) on which the clearance is based can be either current or expired . PSIs are current if they are not more than five years old for a Top Secret clearance, 10 years old for a Secret clearance, or 15 years old for a Confidential clearance.
Generally, if the PSI is out-of-date (expired) or there has been a break-in-service of two years or more, a person must be nominated for a new clearance and must complete a new application in the same manner as a person who never had a clearance.
The exception is for individuals who are currently employed and still utilizing their security clearance in the scope of their work. In order to help push through the backlog that reached more than 750,000 pending background investigations, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has pushed TS reinvestigations to every six years, versus five years. The investigation is still technically out of scope, but eligibility remains current as long as you need access to classified information to complete your duties.
In addition, as the government moves toward Continuous Evaluation, it’s possible it will eliminate periodic reinvestigations entirely.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CLEARANCE IS ACTIVE?
Your clearance is active as long as you’re in a job requiring access to classified information. In the midst of investigation delays, the Department of Defense clarified eligibility doesn’t expire – even if your investigation technically does. The moment you leave a cleared position or contract, your clearance is no longer active, it’s considered current – assuming your investigation hasn’t expired. Obtain another cleared position within two years, and your clearance can be reactivated without a new investigation.