Skip to page navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. / Policy / Tribal Consultation / Indian Preference
Skip to main content

Indian Preference

Federal Employment Opportunities and Programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Native people are vital to the success of the federal workforce. We all benefit when Native people are included in the recruitment, hiring, and development of the federal workforce:

  • Native employees who contribute their talents and skills to federal public service
  • Agencies that gain valuable insights from native people who understand the unique needs of their communities
  • Native employees’ families, who benefit from a competitive total compensation package; and
  • Communities that flourish as these employees serve to fulfill their agencies’ vision and mission.

We intend for this guidance to serve as another step in our efforts to connect with Native people and cultivate trust as we build the future of the federal workforce together.  

Indian Preference

Indian Preference allows certain American Indian/Alaska Native applicants to receive preference over non-Indian applicants when applying to jobs with the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

You are eligible for preference if you:

(a) are a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe;

(b) are a descendent of a member and were residing within the present boundaries of any Indian reservation on June 1, 1934;

(c) are an Alaska Native; or

(d) possess one-half degree Indian blood derived from tribes that are indigenous to the United States. 

Information for Students and Recent Graduates

If you’re a current student or recent graduate, you may be eligible for federal internships and job opportunities through  .

Individual agencies offer a variety of internships and fellowships for students, recent graduates, professionals, and other job seekers who want to connect with agency missions and employ their unique education, background and skill sets in service to the nation. Visit specific agency websites for additional information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does someone claim Indian Preference?

A: If you’re claiming Indian Preference, you must submit form BIA 4432-Verification of Indian Preference with your application. The time to complete will vary based on your tribe’s process, so it is best to complete this step first if you want to use Indian Preference. You will also need to ensure that your form is current and has not expired.  

Q: Does Indian Preference apply at every agency? 

A: No. It only applies to jobs within the IHS and Indian Affairs (including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education and some positions within the Office of the Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs.) Refer to the job announcement to find out if it applies. 

Q: Are there Indian Preference internships?   

A: Indian Health Service (IHS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Udall Foundation, and White House Initiative for American Indian and Alaskan Native Education all offer IP opportunities, which can be found on their websites and through USAJOBS

Q: When is the best time to apply for internships?
A: It will depend on when you would like to intern. Internships happen year-round so it is best to work on developing and maintaining your resume, USAJOBS profile, transcripts, and documents to make sure that you are always prepared when an opportunity becomes available.

Q: Will housing be provided?

A: You are responsible for finding your own housing unless otherwise stated. Your internship coordinator or the local site can help you find arrangements. Many universities also offer safe, affordable and convenient housing to students with summer internships.

Q: Can an internship turn into a permanent position?

A: Upon successful completion and after meeting the required hours of the program, you may be converted to a permanent position.

Q: How do I find opportunities that allow me to work remotely?

A: Under the Location header in the Overview section of the job announcement, the remote job location will be listed as Anywhere in the U.S. (remote job). Visit USAJOBS to learn more about remote positions.

Q: When can I apply to an agency that does not have Indian Preference?

A: An employee with Indian Preference must complete a two-year probationary period. Upon successful completion they will need to serve one additional year to convert to competitive status. Competitive status will allow you to compete under merit promotion (MP) procedures.

Contact Us

Job seekers looking for more information on Federal employment may visit or email

Career counselors, Tribal leaders, and other stakeholders looking for more information may email

Control Panel