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Suitability

Applicants who apply for a law enforcement position with CBP are required to undergo a Tier V background investigation and must submit to a polygraph examination as required by the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010. Results of your polygraph examination, along with information gathered as part of the background investigation process, will be used to assess your overall suitability/eligibility to hold a law enforcement position with CBP. 

Many of the questions you will be asked during your polygraph examination and your personal interview (part of the background investigation) will relate to your current situation and past actions/behaviors and will involve responses you previously provided to questions on your application and background investigation forms. 

It is important to understand the polygraph examiners and the investigators conducting the personal interviews are trained professionals who are tasked with gathering the facts. A trained personnel security specialist will later review these facts and make a final determination regarding suitability/eligibility of employment to hold a law enforcement position. Therefore, it is important to be honest and forthcoming when filling out any/all application and background forms and when speaking with the polygraph examiner and investigator, even if it is uncomfortable.

Providing false or misleading information on forms or during the personal interview is an automatic disqualifier. Conversely, if you are honest and forthcoming with your forms and personal information, it may be possible to mitigate concerns and avoid automatic disqualification. 

Illegal drug use is one area where applicants have a tendency to not fully disclose past actions/behaviors. Questions involving illegal drug use are asked multiple times throughout the background investigation process. Your responses on the Standard Form-86 will be compared to your responses during your personal interview and your responses during the polygraph examination. 

To help you make an informed decision about whether or not you should continue with the application process, CBP is sharing the prior drug use guidelines used during the adjudication phase. 

CBP conducts a “whole person” analysis in order to determine whether an applicant is suitable based on previous illegal drug use, considering both aggravating and mitigating factors such as frequency and recency of use, circumstances surrounding the use, the age of the person at time of use, contributing societal conditions, likelihood of recurrence, and/or a demonstrated intent to not use illegal drugs in the future.

It is important that you be honest about any/all previous drug use during the entire application process. Previous illegal drug use may be mitigated, whereas dishonesty and/or falsifying federal application or background investigation forms will not be tolerated and will result in a negative suitability finding.

Important Note: Due to federal reciprocity directives, CBP will share background investigation and/or polygraph information with future potential federal employers, if it is requested. For example, if someone undergoes a CBP background investigation and/or a polygraph and then applies for a job with another federal agency, CBP will share the results if the federal agency requests them. 

All CBP background information and polygraph results are maintained in a system of records shared across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As such, the personnel security unit for all DHS components has access to the results of a CBP background investigation and/or polygraph.

Except for this information sharing with federal agencies based on reciprocity directives or with DHS personnel security units, CBP does not, generally, share information from a background investigation and/or polygraph exam. Exceptions to this general rule include instances when the applicant is involved in ongoing criminal activity, has committed a serious crime that does not have a statute of limitations or that is still within the statute of limitations, or there is a threat to national security or public safety.

Last modified: 
February 15, 2022
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