An individual cannot obtain a security clearance on his or her own. You must be sponsored by a cleared contractor or a government agency. To be sponsored, you must be employed directly by the government or by a cleared contractor (or hired as a consultant) in a position that requires a clearance.
In some cases, a candidate for employment may be submitted for a clearance if the cleared contractor has made a binding offer of employment and the candidate has accepted the offer. Both the offer and acceptance must be in writing. The offer of employment must indicate that employment will begin within 30 days of receiving the clearance.
A government contractor’s ability to sponsor a security clearance is dictated by the government, not the company. A contract’s statement of work includes labor billet requirements, including security clearance requirements. Some contracts require only an interim to start, while others require all billets to be filled by active clearance holders.