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What is the Security Clearance in the UK?

  1. Oct 27, 2012 #1

    I have recenlty been graduated as a Nuclear Engineer and I am looking for jobs abroad. As the only foreign language I can speak fluently is English, I am thinking about applying in the UK, where there are more job vacancies in the nuclear field besides France.

    I see a lot of positions related to national defence, and they ask for a security clearance. I understand what it is for, but what I want to know is: Who can apply to that? Are foreigners able to apply to that? And how hard is it? What are their demands?

    Also, in case anyone knows anything that they could tell me about the Nuclear job market and give me some tips/guidance it would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2012 #2


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    The security clearance in the US is normally requested by the agency or department that will hire you. For the DOD it's DISCO that grants them for non-goverment personnel and NISP for Industrial Security. I'm sure the UK has a system like this.

    http://www.dss.mil/about_dss/fact_sheets/disco_faqsheet.html [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Oct 27, 2012 #3


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    This website explains security clearances in the UK pretty well.

    http://www.securityclearedjobs.com/become-security-cleared.cms.asp [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Oct 27, 2012 #4


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    You won't know the answers to those questions even if you have got clearance, The clearance organizations aren't in the business of telling everybody with an internet connection how to game the system, and they don't need to ask you personally to find out what they want to know about you.

    Just apply for the job(s). The basic questions will be on the application form. If you stand no chance of getting clearance based on those, you will get a rejection letter (but not one saying you were rejected because of security issues). If you go through the selection process and get an offer subject to security clearance, just sit and wait - possibly for several months. You can't do anything to speed up the process.
  6. Oct 27, 2012 #5
    But then why do they ask for a security clearance in the job advertisement if you are not supposed to have any control of it?
  7. Oct 27, 2012 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    So you know that there will be people asking your friends invasive questions about you. And secondarily to let you, as a non-UK national, know it's very unlikely that you will get that job.
  8. Oct 27, 2012 #7


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    V50, remember that the UK may have a different relationship with nationals of other EU countries, and with current and former Commonwealth countries, than the USA has with its non-nationals.
  9. Oct 27, 2012 #8
    You'll typically be dealing with either SC or DV clearance in the United Kingdom. You don't apply for clearance; your prospective employer applies to the government - typically to either the Foreign Office, the Met, or the DBS NSV - on your behalf. Some positions require clearance directly from the MOD.

    It depends entirely on the sector and the specific role in which you're interested. Non-UK/ROI nationals can have a hard time getting SC cleared; DV clearance is much, much more difficult. Regardless of your nationality you'll generally need to have been resident here for at least five years prior to an application for clearance like that.

    Again, it depends entirely on the role you're applying for. Typically though you'll have to undergo a full CRB (criminal records check) and your finances will be investigated. DV clearances will also require checks on your family background. Don't bank on it being a quick process either; the DV clearances I've heard of (ahem) have taken six months or more.

    (Apologies for the alphabet soup!)
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  10. Oct 28, 2012 #9


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    It's also a basic screening measure. If people see that it requires a clearance and they can figure out for themselves that it's probably not going to happen, they often won't apply. Same thing happens in the US.
  11. Oct 30, 2012 #10
    I lived in the UK since birth. After graduation I took a gap year to Thailand teaching English. I returned to begin a career in engineering (what I graduated in). I was immediately discounted from all military jobs, and jobs surrounding defence. Applicants must have lived in this country for 3 (or maybe 5) years until they are not considered a national threat to security. On this basis I'd say it's quite difficult for you to do something in that industry. However, I'm not suprised by some rediculous laws surrounding foreign nationals we have in the UK. No harm in finding out the requirements!

    Have you considered just nuclear engineering outside of the defence sector?
  12. Oct 30, 2012 #11
    Yes of course. But I think anything related to nuclear requires at least the lesser SC (BPSS?). Some colleagues told me that the security clearance was no problem for them, the company did everything, but I guess that's not for National Defence, just regular nuclear plants.

    My aim was not defence, just anything related to nuclear power, but I confess that building submarines is way too awesome :rofl:

    Anyways, I am applying to other engineering fields, as my major allows for a lot of things.
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