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Visit Authorization Request (VAR)

What is a Visit Authorization Request (VAR) letter?

A Visit Authorization Request (VAR) letter is a form of background investigation, security clearance, or HSPD-12 credentialing verification submitted between departments and agencies (D/A’s).   


A VAR letter is required when:  ​

  • NIH agency member visits another agency for a classified meeting/detail  
  • Outside agency member is visiting NIH for classified meeting/detail 
  • Details with other D/A’s that require the sponsoring agency to provide background investigation/security clearance verification   
  • Details with other D/A’s stationed outside of the U.S. where verification to the U.S. Embassy is required  ​


Why is a VAR needed? 

A VAR is needed because agencies do not have the ability to accurately verify other agencies background/clearance information in any centralized system. Therefore, agencies must provide official verification on agency letterhead in the form of the Visit Authorization Request letter.     


Who submits the VAR?
VARs must be submitted from Personnel Security Office to Personnel Security Office between agencies on agency letterhead.

VAR Notification Process:
  • ​Notice is usually sent via email from/to agency personnel security offices when an NIH agency member needs to visit another agency and background/clearance information is required; or, when a non-NIH agency member needs to visit NIH for a classified meeting/detail.     
  • If a VAR is required (whether for internal or external agency members), the request must be sent to the ORSPersonnelSecurity@mail.nih.gov inbox    
  • The request may also be referred to as “passing of clearances” or simply that an agency member needs to “visit another agency”  ​

Incoming/Outgoing VAR Requests:
  • ​​Incoming: Verification needed for an external agency member coming to NIH for a classified visit or detail (usually to the NIH SCIF)  
  • Outgoing: Verification needed for an NIH agency member traveling to another agency/detail  

F​or more information, please view our Incoming and Outgoing VAR Guidelines page.