You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Ask the Lawyer: Foreign family ties: How to dispel concerns and earn your clearance

Apr. 26, 2012 - 05:03PM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 26, 2012 - 05:03PM  |  
  • Filed Under

Q. My military career has hit a snag. Not to sound childish, but it's my dad's fault. He lives in China and has since I was a child. We rarely see each other but talk every few months. This relationship is causing security clearance problems. What should I do?

A. Given the mounting economic and military rivalries between the U.S. and China, such familial ties are bound to raise foreign influence concerns and hold up security clearance applications. But resentment toward foreign family members who prompt security clearance denials or revocations may be displaced.

The first foreign influence concern listed in the security clearance guidelines (official title: Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information), addresses contact with family members who are residents in or citizens of a foreign country.

Under Guideline B, contact with such family members could disqualify a service member for security clearance if it "creates a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion."

But a family member's mere presence in a country such as China, India or Pakistan may not prevent a service member from obtaining or retaining a security clearance.

Does your father belong to the Communist Party? Does he work for the Chinese government or military? Does he have contact with people who do?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is no, then it is imperative that you, with the help of a national security law attorney, bring these facts to the attention of an adjudicator with your branch's Central Adjudication Facility.

When responding to a Letter of Intent/Statement of Reasons, you should aim to mitigate foreign influence concerns regarding your father by showing, as Guideline B states, it's unlikely that you "will be placed in a position of having to choose between the interests of a foreign individual, group, organization, or government and the interests of the U.S."

To further mitigate such concerns, you, through your attorney, should detail the casual nature of your communications with your father, to illustrate the unlikelihood of any risk of foreign influence or exploitation.

Lastly, try to quash any doubts the adjudicator may hold about where your loyalties lie. Stress how long you've been an American citizen, the service you've done for your country, and whether you have any family in the U.S.

Finally, consult with a security clearance representation lawyer, who can help you raise these points during the adjudication process.

Mathew B. Tully is an Iraq War veteran and founding partner of the law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC ("> Email questions to"> The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In Pay & Benefits

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Go mustang
LDO and warrant careers offer more authority, a pay hike and big retirement payout

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook