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Citizenship Requirements

Because UGSP participants are employees of the NIH during their training at the NIH, you must qualify for Federal employment. This includes certain citizenship requirements.

You must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a qualified non-citizen. (Note that some permanent residents are qualified non-citizens. See below.)

A U.S. national is a person who, although not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States. They are generally persons born in outlying possessions of the United States.

If you are a non-U.S. citizen, (a) you must be eligible to work in the United States, and (b) you must qualify for Federal employment. (Because your employment at NIH will take place in the future, your employment eligibility must be based on a permanent status, such as permanent residency. Individuals authorized to work in the United States on a temporary basis do not qualify.)

  • Non-citizens may work in the United States only if they are 1) assigned by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) to a class of immigrants authorized to be employed (permanent residents, for example), or 2) expressly authorized by the BCIS to be employed.
  • In general non-citizens, even if they are eligible to work in the United States, cannot be hired as Federal employees; however, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are a U.S. permanent resident from a country allied with the United States in a defense effort, you are eligible for Federal employment.

Detailed information on citizenship requirements, a list of countries allied with the United States in a defense effort, and a complete list of exceptions to this rule appear below.

Detailed Information on the Eligibility of Non-Citizens:

Non-U.S. citizens may participate in the Undergraduate Scholarship Program if the employment conditions of the 1)Immigration Reform Act of 1986 are satisfied, AND if the applicant meets one of the exceptions for hiring non-citizens identified in the 2) appropriations act ban. These requirements must be followed because participants in the Undergraduate Scholarship Program are employees of the NIH while performing their research service. Click here for a complete description of the rules governing Federal employment of non-citizens.

1) Immigration Reform Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-603)

Under immigration law, employers in the United States may only hire non-citizens who are:

  • Assigned by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) to a class of immigrants authorized to be employed (aliens who are lawfully admitted for permanent residence by BCIS are the largest class of aliens in that category), or
  • Expressly authorized by the BCIS to be employed.

For more information on the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-603), visit the link to Public Laws Amending the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which is located in the Laws, Regulations, and Guides section of the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site (http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis).

2) Appropriations Act Ban

Generally, non-citizens are prohibited from being paid salary out of appropriated funds and therefore cannot be employed by the NIH. However, non-citizens who meet one of these exceptions may apply and be considered.

  • Nationals of the People's Republic of China who qualify for adjustment of status pursuant to the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992.
  • Aliens from Cuba, South Vietnam, countries of the former Soviet Union, or the Baltic countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia) lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
  • Citizens of Ireland, Israel, or the Philippines.
  • Nationals of countries allied with the United States in a defense effort. The following countries are currently allied with the United States in a defense effort:

Countries with Allied Status with the United States
Argentina France Norway
Australia Germany Panama
Bahamas Greece Paraguay
Belgium Guatemala Peru
Bolivia Haiti Philippines
Brazil Honduras Poland
Canada Hungary Portugal
Czech Republic Iceland Spain
Chile Italy Thailand
Colombia Japan Trinidad & Tobago
Costa Rica South Korea Turkey
Denmark Luxembourg United Kingdom
Dominican Republic Netherlands Uruguay
Ecuador New Zealand Venezuela
El Salvador Nicaragua  


The listed countries are subject to change. Questions regarding the most current eligibility requirements should be addressed to:

National Institutes of Health
Office of Loan Repayment and Scholarship
Fax: 301-402-8098
Email: UGSP@NIH.GOV

For more information on citizenship information, visit the link to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, sections 301 and 308. These sections are located in the Laws, Regulations, and Guides section of the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site (Click here go the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service).