I was notified by email that Diplomatic Security now has a “complete security package” on me and will start to process my security application. I guess this marks the point at which my background check actually begins.
The additional information that they needed was on my foreign spouse. Stacy has relatives in Taiwan and in China, and we needed to supply the State Department with birth dates, addresses and occupation data for her aunts and uncles. This was tough; her relatives in China live in rural areas, and they don’t have “addresses” in the sense of an American mailing address. It isn’t as vague as “village by the mountain,” but it isn’t much more than that.
We decided to give as much information as we could, and added a footnote that she has never even met the Mainland Chinese relatives, and crossed our fingers. Luckily, State seems to be satisfied with what we gave them.
Official word from the State Department is that security clearances take between six and eight months. Other candidates are reporting on the online discussion group that their clearances are taking as little as three months, and the more typical time period seems to be four months.
I still think that, with my complicated background, my clearance will take closer to the longer end of the official time range. I would be very surprised if they were done with me in only three or four months.
The next step should be a face-to-face interview with an officer who will be in charge of my case. Then interviews with my employers, coworkers, friends, neighbors, etc. From what other people have written about the process, it’s pretty thorough. Although I’ve read several accounts about the security clearance process, I will reserve judgement. Experience has taught me not to believe everything that I read.