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How to Upgrade a Security Clearance From Secret to Top Secret

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Upgrade from a Secret Security Clearance to a Top Secret Security Clearance provided all requirements are met. Those in military and government positions in which they were already provided a Secret Clearance may upgrade to a TS/SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance if their position changes or suddenly requires the additional clearance level. The process may include Interim Eligibility, or an Interim Declination, depending on circumstances with the individual. Additionally, the TS/SCI clearance approval may require a full background check and polygraph, depending on the job or position. The process is initiated by the commander or a superior/supervisor in the job.

Consult with a supervisor, superior, commanding officer or other authority in your current or future work position. Authorization to begin the process for a TS/SCI clearance requires a need for the employee to possess that clearance level for his work. Also needed is a formal request or authorization from a superior verifying that the employee needs the higher clearance. Often, the TS/SCI process begins before the employee even realizes.

Comply with the investigator, if necessary. A personal interview with the investigator performing the background check and other processes for your upgrade to TS/SCI is often one of the earlier steps of the process. The investigator may talk or meet with character references (people who can tell her about you on personal and professional levels), as well as conduct a full background check to determine whether you pose a security threat with the high clearance level.

Provide the investigator with necessary authorizations for records and character references, with contact information, to assist the process. The more helpful you are to the investigator, the smoother the process runs and the quicker your clearance upgrade is approved (or denied, if necessary).

Meet with the polygraph examiner at the scheduled date and time if a polygraph is required for your TS/SCI clearance. Not everyone in the military or government upgrading from Secret to TS/SCI clearance has to take a polygraph, but many do. Missing the appointment or rescheduling can prolong your clearance results and may affect your ability to perform your job tasks.


Having a TS/SCI clearance does not necessarily mean you are authorized to view all Top Secret documents or that you are entitled to Top Secret information.


Sasha Maggio specializes in topics related to psychology, fitness, nutrition, health, medicine, dentistry, and recovery after surgery, as well as cultural topics including Buddhism, Japanese culture, travel, languages and cooking. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Japanese from the University of Hawaii, as well as a Master of Arts in forensic psychology. She is currently pursuing Medical and PhD programs.