The application advice and document preparation attorneys at National Security Law Firm offer highly specialized knowledge to help you gain security clearance for a job. We work with huge numbers of individuals who are filling out the SF-86 application. It doesn’t matter where you reside, as we provide these services nationwide.

In many cases, incomplete or inaccurate information is found that may add time to the application process. When you work with the National Security Law Firm, we’ll help you prepare for, fill out, and submit your SF-86 application. We can also assist you if additional documentation is needed for the application to go through.

Why Choose the National Security Law Firm

Our lawyers have experience working with special agents on investigations and subject interviews. This working knowledge of the way government agents view these issues provides you with the best opportunity to complete the security clearance process.

In addition, we have experience advising supervisors on reinstatement, revocation, and suspension of security clearances. This level of knowledge provides us with the unique opportunity to understand how the government reviews and analyzes the information you submit.

The National Security Law Firm consists of compassionate and professional lawyers who have extensive training in specialized fields. We’re here to answer all your questions regarding the SF-86 application and future steps to gain and retain security clearance.

What Is the Fee for SF-86 Application Advice and Document Preparation Services?

The fee for SF-86 advice and document preparation services varies depending on the attorney used. In most situations, you should reach out to various firms to get an idea of the fees associated with these services.

If you choose National Security Law Firm, we have a flat fee for these services. You can expect to pay $995 for all the above services regardless of how long each takes. We don’t bill by the hour for these services, so you have a fee that covers everything from the start.

What Is the SF-86?

The Standard Form (SF) 86 “Questionnaire for National Security Positions” is a set of questions that must be answered by anyone who wishes to fill a National Security Position. An SF-86 is used by government agency employees, government contractors, and military personnel. It is required to apply to acquire proper levels of security clearance.

The SF-86 must be filled out 100% correctly to avoid problems with your application. Making even a single small mistake could make it less likely that you obtain the top-secret, secret, or confidential security clearance.

This is why it is unbelievably important to have the assistance of a qualified attorney to complete the SF-86. Only an attorney who is highly experienced with the SF-86 can guide you as you work through the process. This ensures that all of the needed documentation is completed correctly.

The SF-86 is not a form that you should take lightly. If you conceal, omit, or falsify relevant facts from the questionnaire, you can have problems in the future. It could lead to your clearance being revoked or suspended at a later date.

It’s also crucial that you do not leave out important contacts, places you’ve visited or lived, people, or foreign business you’ve done in the past. If you have ties to foreign governments or foreigners, this also should be divulged.

Those who choose to omit these things may be denied their security clearance. It could also mean your clearance faces additional scrutiny and could be substantially delayed, sometimes for a year or longer.

The SF-86 is permanent and can be used in investigations in the future, eligibility for logical and physical access to federally controlled information systems or facilities, fitness for contract employment, or fitness and suitability for federal employment. Responses made to this form can be compared with responses on past questionnaires.

What to Expect During the SF-86 Application Process

The first thing you should know about security clearances is that you can’t just choose to file for one. Instead, you must be sponsored by an employer or government agency that certified the role necessitates a clearance. If you do not require security clearance for a position, you will not be able to submit the SF-86.

Providing the information asked for on the SF-86 is voluntary. However, choosing not to do so means you are unlikely to be cleared for a national security position or be eligible to access classified information if that applies to the position you are applying for.

If you have a job offer that stands only if you receive a security clearance, you must complete the SF-86 questionnaire. The agency sponsoring you will let you know how long you must submit the form. It’s essential to be timely when completing the investigation request. Meeting the deadline is important.

It’s estimated that the collection of information will take about 150 minutes per request. This includes time to review the instructions, search existing data sources, gather and maintain needed data, and review and complete the process.

A few details to be aware of include the following:

  • First, you are sent a Questionnaire for National Security (SF-86).
  • You may not work or view the location where you will work unless you have an Interim Clearance (this may last up to six months).
  • Each form has 26 sections of questions over 127 pages that need to be answered. You will describe many facets of your background going back seven to 10 years.
  • You will be expected to use the e-QIP online form to complete the application.
  • Each question answered on the form will be investigated. This makes it essential to avoid incomplete answers or keep things out that you should include.

If the answers you give lead to any questions from the government, a few things will occur. First, the start date for your position will be pushed back. You will be on a path that could lead to having the security clearance denied. Finally, acquiring your clearance will become much more challenging and take time.

The SF-86 can be submitted after you fill out the form in its entirety. It will be sent electronically. After the questionnaire has been submitted, it will go into the system automatically. A security manager will look it over and send it to the appropriate agency so it can be processed. This begins the investigation phase of the process.

Interim Clearance Information

Let’s take a moment to explain how interim clearance works. This clearance lets some workers start their jobs earlier than otherwise expected. Interim clearance can be offered even before the full investigations have been done for the SF-86. Many job candidates will receive a “Conditional Offer of Employment,” which means they get the job only if they acquire interim clearance.

This largely happens when there is a significant need for the skill or another job demand reason necessitates it. However, if the interim clearance is not approved, the conditional offer will often be rescinded.

In some situations with various employers, you can begin work with only an interim clearance. A quick background search of specific reports will be done, including an FBI check, a local agency report, and a credit report. However, interim clearance is temporary and typically lasts six months.

At the same time, be aware that final clearance may not occur within six months. Sometimes, it could take as long as two to three years. The higher the security clearance you desire, the more time it will take for the investigation to conclude.

Someone who needs a top-secret security clearance might be waiting three years for it. While the government sets the expiration date of interim clearance, they also sometimes ignore this policy.

The Government Investigation Process

As mentioned earlier, the government investigation following the submission of an SF-86 can take up to three years. However, this depends on what level of clearance you need and whether the government has any concerns or issues. Issues tend to increase the time it takes for clearance to be granted.

The higher the clearance level, the more comprehensive and extensive your background check will be. A confidential security clearance takes the last time, followed by a secret security clearance. The most extensive investigation is done for a top-secret security clearance.

In most cases, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will handle your background check. This office is considered the Human Resources Organization for the Federal Government.

The investigation by the government will include some or all the following elements:

  • An investigator will be assigned to your case. This individual will interview your friends, family members, and neighbors. The investigator’s job is to look deeply into your records to see what they can find out.
  • Since some things are huge concerns for the government, the investigator will be looking into criminal records, financial records, foreign contacts, alcohol or drug-related issues, TSA no-fly lists or incidents with any sort of airline, and warrants for your arrest.
  • In some cases, a polygraph test will be required.

If the government does your background check and something is found, it will cause a delay in receiving your clearance. When it comes to the end of the security clearance application, things can end in one of three different ways.

  1. You may receive the most favorable outcome, which is acquiring the security clearance you requested.
  2. You could receive interrogatories from the government asking for more information about issues found in the SF-86 application. Essentially, this means the government is concerned about some of your responses. You will need to do additional work to meet their requests. How you handle this will determine whether you get the job.
  3. Sometimes, even without receiving interrogatories, a Letter of Intent to Deny will be issued. This means the government concerns are more serious and the interrogatories will be skipped, and things will move to the serious Letter of Intent with a Statement of Reason.

Reasons to Hire an Attorney to Fill Out the SF-86

Most people have no clue what occurs during the process of getting security clearance for a job. It can be difficult to research information about the process since it is so secretive and held close to the chest. Because of that, it’s a good idea to maximize your chances of getting clearance the first time. The best way to do so is with the assistance of a security clearance lawyer.

Your Answers Will Follow You Throughout Your Career

Whatever you say in your SF-86 form will stay there throughout your career. This is one of the reasons it is so essential to be entirely honest. However, having the assistance of a security clearance attorney who helps you complete the form ensures no omissions or errors are included. Since these forms are highly scrutinized, you do not want yours to be flagged for review.

If the application is flagged and the process of acquiring security clearance is extended, you may need to attend a hearing with an administrative judge or fill out additional documentation. The process is complicated and making a mistake will follow you, so it’s best to avoid it from the start.

This is the primary reason you should hire an attorney to fill out the SF-86. We’ll provide guidance and advice about a critical document for your career path. Only when proper information and documentation have been submitted can you expect to get an efficient and quick decision about your decision.

Some of our most common application advice to security clearance clients is that you should be complete and truthful in your application. Some major issues that seem very significant can cause fewer issues than being dishonest on the application. If denied security clearance, overturning that decision is extremely difficult.

Answering Questions in the Most Favorable Light Can Create Concerns

As attorneys who have handled many clearance forms in the past, we understand the best way to fill out the SF-86. One of the most common problems that applicants or security holders make is to be untruthful on the SF-86 and other security clearance forms. Many of the cases we take involve this problem.

In some situations, simply taking the time to complete the SF-86 accurately is all that is needed. Many people who visit us to gain help with security clearance are in this situation because they completed the forms incorrectly but without any intention to deceive anyone.

Later, the investigator finds the mistake and doesn’t know whether it was intentional deception. When this occurs, it’s our job to show the integrity and honesty of the person involved in the forms and explain how the mistake occurred. It’s far better to get things right the first time, avoid mistakes, and take time with the form.

In other situations, a person doesn’t wish to disclose something from their past. Perhaps the idea of putting down that you have used marijuana makes you uncomfortable. If you come to us first, we can explain why being untruthful on clearance forms is a bad plan.

While not charged often, lying on a security clearance form counts as a criminal offense. Speaking with an attorney who is knowledgeable about security clearances can help you choose whether to disclose something or stop the clearance process if there is potential criminal liability.

We also offer counsel if you failed to disclose something at an earlier time. In this situation, we’ll usually ask you to speak with your security officers to disclose the omission. This most often occurs when someone had secret clearance but is moving up the ranks and needs a higher clearance that requires a polygraph.

Interview Preparation Requires Additional Effort

Part of our application advice includes subject interview preparations. This is something you cannot get on your own if you choose to move forward without a security clearance lawyer. However, it is very important to ensure you have the best chance of getting the security clearance level that you desire.

When you walk into an interview, the answers you give must be consistent with the information that was submitted in the SF-86. If you answer something in a way that is not consistent with the form, this can raise Guideline E concerns. Guideline E relates to personal conduct and includes various points that are associated with an SF-86 form.

Experienced attorneys will help you prepare fully for this interview. You can practice and learn the best way to handle what might otherwise be a highly stressful interview process. It’s also a serious reason to ensure you have someone with security clearance knowledge to help you throughout the completion of the SF-86 form.

What Comes Included in the SF-86 Application Advice and Document Preparation Service

We offer a variety of services that are useful for anyone who is completing the SF-86 form to obtain a security clearance. The reality is that filling out this form is more complex than most expect. You aren’t privy to what the government needs to see and how they will view your answers. We have that knowledge and are happy to provide it to you.

Application Advice and Assistance on the SF-86 Application

When you come to us for our knowledge and expertise, we offer a variety of services to help you. One of the main things that we provide to security clearance clients is advice on completing the SF-86 application. In addition, we can assist to ensure everything is done right.

These are only a couple of the things we offer to help you get security clearance via the SF-86 form. We also help you draft and edit your responses. This gives you the best chances of a quick process without any issues.

Interview Preparation Services

The second thing we offer is subject interview preparation. As mentioned above, this ensures your SF-86 answers are reflected in your interview. We explain the process to you and make sure you can provide identical answers based on the SF-86 form. We’ll coach you through the process and make sure you are ready to move forward.

Mitigation Strategies as Needed

In the best-case scenario, you’ll send in your application for security clearance and get a positive result not long after.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every individual. If the government has potential concerns about anything from your application, we will assist by creating a mitigation strategy that takes these things into account.

Nationwide SF-86 Application Advice and Document Preparation Lawyers

If you have the daunting task of completing an SF-86 application, you deserve the help of a dependable and experienced legal team. The stakes are high and when the government is involved, you don’t want to make any mistakes or create any unanswered questions.

Since security clearance involves federal law, there is no need to hire an attorney in a specific state. It’s more important to choose the best lawyers who practice nationwide to offer SF-86 advice and document preparation services.

Each of our SF-86 attorneys is a leader in the field and has experience working for the government before moving into private practice. You can reach us today at 202-600-4996 for a complimentary consultation. Call us now at (202) 600-4996 to get started.

Additional Helpful Resources

Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 – National Defense – Provides the guidelines associated with determining eligibility for access to classified information.

Completing Your Investigation Request in e-QIP: Guide for the Standard Form (SF) 86 – Explains what the SF-86 form is, how to protect your privacy, and details the procedures behind completing this form online.

Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) – Offers access to the automated web-based system designed to facilitate the process of standard investigative forms used by DCSA and other Investigation Service Providers when conducting investigations for credentialing, fitness, suitability, and security purposes.

Questionnaire for National Security Positions – Provides information about the SR-86 form as well as the questionnaire itself.

US Office of Personnel Management – Features information about OPM, including policies, insurance, retirement, suitability, agency services, and news.


If you are appealing a security clearance determination, it is imperative that you obtain experienced legal representation. Doing so will provide you with the best opportunity to obtain or maintain your clearance.

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