Attorney Ron SykstusWhen dealing with security clearances, most people are aware that there are secret clearances and top-secret clearances which allow access to classified material.  Most importantly, secret and top-secret clearances are the required prerequisites in order to get a government, military or a government subcontractor position.  There is, however, a lesser known security clearance requirement for many positions in the government.  These types of positions require a “lesser,” but still important access called “CAC cards” or Common Access Cards.

Acquiring a Common Access Card

The process to get a CAC card is similar to what people have to go through to obtain a secret or top-secret (TS) security clearance.  For a secret or TS clearance, an individual has to submit a completed Standard Form (SF) 86 through the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing system (e-QIP).  In order to obtain a CAC card, an individual needs to submit a shorter form under the e-QIP system called a SF 85.  SF 85 forms are probably more common than SF 86 forms as there are generally more jobs throughout the country that require a lesser form of scrutiny as far as getting access to government places and information.

Do not be fooled. As far as thinking that the government will take a lesser view regarding scrutiny of an SF 85 application.  With this type of SF 85 application, the government will consistently review that application along with the completed form titled “Declaration for Federal Employment, OPM Optional Form 306.”  Any misstatements or issues in this form will be compared to the SF 85 and a CAC card denied if the government has concerns about misstatements or omissions.  The biggest problem areas, in my experience, concern questions regarding prior employment.  Make sure you are very exacting in your responses and provide detailed explanations for any issue that concerns you.  Fortunately, appeal rights for a CAC card are available pursuant to DOD Instruction 5200.46.   Make sure to take advantage of all your appeal rights accorded to you under the law if the CAC card is denied.

If you have concerns about any type of security clearance, please contact me directly by visiting my security clearance web site:  I have been helping individuals with security clearance concerns, denials, and revocations for several years.  You can e-mail me here or by phone at my direct phone number 256-713-0221.

These blog posts may provide some further guidance and assistance for you.


Ron Sykstus
Written by Ron Sykstus

Ron Sykstus is a Managing Partner of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a Juris Doctorate from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Ron has served in numerous positions throughout the U.S. Army and now utilizes his expertise in the areas of VA issues, security clearances, military law, and bankruptcy to assist his clients when they need it most. Read his full bio here.

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