How to apply to HHS as a Native American

The Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency of Health and Human Services, is required by law to provide preference in employment to American Indians and Alaska Natives who are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe as defined by the Secretary of the Interior.

Indian preference requirements apply to all actions involved in filling a vacant position (e.g., initial hiring, reassignment, transfer, competitive promotion, reappointment or reinstatement), no matter how the vacancy arises. 

If you want to claim Indian preference, you must: 

  1. Submit a properly completed and signed BIA-4432;
  2. Meet all qualification requirements as defined by the Office of Personnel Management or the Indian Health Service Excepted Service Qualification Standards (Preston Standards); and
  3. Meet suitability requirements for employment.

Non-Indian applicants who are current or past federal employees, who have competitive status, who apply and are deemed eligible and qualified, can be referred for selection under the Merit Promotion Plan if there are no qualified Indian preference applicants.

Additionally, when management determines that there may not be qualified applicants with Indian preference or competitive status, they may decide to advertise the position in a manner that allows applications to be solicited from all U.S. citizens. The job opportunity announcement (JOA) for the position will be identified as a Delegated Examining or Direct Hire JOA. If you are a qualified applicant who has submitted acceptable proof of Indian preference, you can be referred and considered for appointment under any type of JOA.

Indian Preference vs. Veterans Preference

It is the policy of the IHS, with respect to appointments in the excepted service that once Indian preference requirements are met, Veterans’ preference will be applied as set forth in 5 CFR 302 and HHS Personnel Instruction 302-1.

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