A security clearance is the process of certifying that you are not a security risk in situations where an institution needs to employ someone it can trust. Institutions that require a security clearance before they can employ someone include security agencies such as the CIA and the FBI. Before these agencies will hire you, they will conduct a thorough background check on you to find out if you can be trusted with classified information, which you will handle in the course of your duties. There are various factors that can disqualify you from clearance.
A history of drug abuse will disqualify you from getting a security clearance. Consumption of illegal drugs is regarded as a sign that you are prone to breaking the law and therefore cannot be expected to enforce it. Furthermore, a drug habit requires a lot of money to sustain and when addicts get broke, they usually do anything to get money to finance the habit. If you are an FBI agent and you need to make more money to get the drugs, you may decide to take bribes from drug traders, which means you can't arrest them.
Copying and distributing copyrighted material will disqualify you from getting a security clearance if you intend to be employed by the CIA. Copyrighted material may include books, reports and music CDs. These copyright violations include photocopying and downloading material from the Internet.
Your level of debt is crucial in a security clearance. If you have many debts or have defaulted on payment of credit card or bank loans, then you cannot get a security clearance. You will also fail to get clearance if you have been declared bankrupt. The rationale for this is that a financially troubled person might be tempted to engage in unethical conduct.
Your citizenship background is crucial to passing a background check. Some security jobs require that only American citizens can be employed. Additionally, even if you have become a naturalized American citizen, a background check may be conducted on your former citizenship. Investigators will want to be sure that in your former country of residence you were not associating with terrorist groups or drug cartels.