Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifiers

If you are looking to apply for a position in the federal government, then you should learn about federal employment background check disqualifiers.

Background Checks for federal employment are the most stringent background checks, and some applicants can be marked “disqualified” forever.

But having knowledge of what can potentially disqualify you can help you avoid getting into this disaster. So, let us get started!

Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifiers

Federal Employment Background Check: Explained

Federal Employment Background Check

Background checks are becoming extremely common and can be performed in minutes, but the process looks quite different and stringent when it comes to federal employment background checks.

A federal background check for employment includes tons of information that is usually not included in a normal background check. This background check even includes information that dates back to more than seven years.

A federal background check for employment is so strict because it concerns hiring candidates for federal positions and positions that require a high level of clearance.

So, to qualify for a federal job, there are essentially three levels of security clearance that one might need to clear: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.

How many levels of clearance one needs to clear will depend on the position one applies for. Additionally, these background checks can also be tiered based on the level of security clearance:

Tier 1

This is the most basic level of background check that all new contractors and federal employees need to appear for.

Tier 3

This level of check includes a National Agency Check and credit check and is done for candidates applying for positions concerning confidential and secret national security access levels.

Tier 5

This level of federal background check includes both Tier 1 and Tier 3 level checks and is done for those who need top secret classified national security information.

Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifiers

Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifier

Disqualifiers are those that prevent a person from getting a job. In order to obtain a job in the federal government, you must take note of these federal employment background check disqualifiers:

1. U.S. Citizenship

The first and foremost requirement that a candidate must meet to get a job in the federal government is to have U.S. citizenship. At the time of clearance, you will be asked to show proof of your citizenship, and immigrants or green card holders will be disqualified right away.

2. Criminal Record

Like all jobs, having a criminal record can immediately disqualify you from a job in the federal government.

However, the disqualifications depend on the type of crime, the date when it occurred, and more.

Lying about your old criminal record can disqualify you immediately. So it’s best to be transparent about it.

3. Substance Abuse

Another thing that will immediately disqualify you from a federal job is the use of substances.

If the candidate is addicted to drugs, prescription medication, or other illegal substances, the government will find them unreliable and deny them clearance.

However, if the candidate was an addict previously and shows proof of recovery, they might be considered.

4. Bankruptcy & Poor Credit

If you are applying for a job that requires handling money, then a federal background check will consider your credit history and bankruptcy records.

A poor credit history or bankruptcy record will disqualify the candidate from the job.

5. Inconsistencies

Having inconsistencies in your federal background check report can look fishy and lead to disqualification.

Do not skip, alter, omit, or oversell information, as it could raise a red flag in your background check.

6. Dishonesty

Any position in the federal government directly concerns the citizens, so they will never hire a person who is dishonest.

Always be transparent in your background check because lying about anything can lead to direct disqualification.

7. SF 85 Disqualification

When applying for a position in the federal government, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire for Public Trust Positions. You will be disqualified if you lie, withhold, or provide false information in this questionnaire.

8. Conflicts of Interest

Familial relations or other occupations can be seen as a conflict of interest at the federal level and can lead to disqualifications. So, you must reveal any such conflict of interest that the federal government might look at as a flaw in your character.

Here’s a table showing common disqualifiers for different levels of security clearances and job positions:

DisqualifierNACIOPMHomeland SecuritySSBIMBIBI
Felony ConvictionSometimesYesYesYesYesYes
Substance AbuseSometimesYesYesYesYesYes
Conflict of InterestSometimesSometimesYesYesYesYes
Mental Health DisordersUsuallyYesYesYesYesYes

How To Improve Your Chances of Obtaining a Position in the Federal Government?

Improve Your Chances of Obtaining a Position in the Federal Government

Having a job in the federal government ensures stability and good pay, which is why so many people dream of getting a job with them.

If you want to improve your chances of obtaining a job in the federal government, then here are some things that you can do:

Pay Off Debts

Since poor credit history can disqualify you from a job at the federal government, you must pay off your debts and try to improve your credit score. Being debt-free will show the government that you are responsible and reliable.

Obtain U.S. Citizenship

You can never get a federal job without U.S. citizenship, so before applying, make sure you obtain U.S. citizenship.

Rehabilitated Behavior

If you are addicted to drugs, then enroll yourself in a rehabilitation center and overcome your addiction problem. If you were a previous addict, then you will need to show proof of recovery.

Federal Employment Background Check Process

Federal Employment Background Check Process

The federal employment background process can be long and stringent. Take note of these questions that commonly concern candidates:

How long does a government background check take?

Most government background check takes 3-5 days. But for higher-level positions, the duration could be as long as 30 days.

How long is a military background check?

Military background check is quite complicated and long as it requires candidates to pass a thorough medical examination. This is why the process can take 6-9 months.

How long is Public Trust clearance?

A Public Trust clearance does not require a security clearance, so those who undergo this test can access the results in a month.

How long is an FBI background check?

An FBI background check typically takes a month.

How Long Does a Federal Employment Background Check Take?

Since federal background checks are quite thorough and intensive, they take the longest.
For entry-level positions in the federal government, the time frame could be less.

But for higher-level positions, the risk is higher, and so the clearance takes a long time.

So, clearance for high-level positions can take as much as nine months, and for entry-level positions, the time frame can be 3-5 days.

Wrap Up

A federal employment background check can be difficult to get through since it involves hiring people who will directly affect the decisions in the government sector.

In this guide, we have shared all the federal employment background check disqualifiers and also ways in which you can improve your chances of getting selected. We hope this was useful to you.


Can I pass a background check with a misdemeanor on my record?

Yes, a lot of federal background checks can be passed with a misdemeanor on your record. The number of misdemeanors and the job position are, however major factors for clearing this.

What is NACI background check?

The National Agency Check is the most basic level of background check that all federal employees must pass. This background check is also done for positions that do not require a security clearance.

For how long is a federal background check valid for?

There is no federal law that dictates how often government employees should be screened. However, depending on the clearance level and employee’s position, the screening is repeated every 2-5 years.

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