There are also many companies that have contracts or grants with the federal government that require them to access sensitive information. These companies or organizations are required to have their employees cleared by the federal government. No company without a contract with the federal government can independently give or seek a security clearance, and no individual who is not hired by the federal government or a contract organization can get a security clearance.
Once the agency has selected a candidate to hire, the applicant will typically receive a job offer contingent upon successfully obtaining a security clearance. The extensive background investigation takes place after the initial offer has been accepted.
The length and depth of the background investigation will depend on the position’s requirements, as well as the type of security clearance needed for a particular job or internship. This process may take several months or up to a year depending on backlog, need for more information, depth of the investigation process and other factors.
In order to help speed the process along, begin to gather relevant information now. Once you are offered the position, you’ll be asked to submit a series of forms and information about yourself. Gather this information now so you can save time on your end. You can view the forms for background checks (SF-85: Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions) and security clearances (SF-86: Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions) on the Office of Personnel Management's website.
Once you have submitted the documentation, the designated agency will proceed with the investigation, depending on backlog and priority.