Determine Foreign Eligibility and Special Requirements

To determine whether your non-U.S. institution might be eligible to apply, review the “Foreign Institutions” section of “Section III. Eligibility Information” of the specific Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

Though most NIH grants go to U.S.-based institutions, you do not need U.S. affiliation or citizenship to become either a grantee institution or a PI for many types of NIH awards. 

The main exceptions are fellowships, career development awards (with one minor exception), and training grants, for which you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (have a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551). 

Be aware that NIH requires additional steps for foreign institutions to register for electronic application. For more information, see the Application Requirements section of Information for Foreign Grants

Projects submitted by Foreign Institutions Receive Additional Review and Funding Consideration 

Applications from foreign institutions must include talent, resources, populations, or other resources not found in the United States. For example, you might plan research in a foreign country so you have access to a unique study population. 

In addition, the following will be assessed as part of the review process and award decision:

  • Whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily available in the United States or that augment existing U.S. resources.
  • Whether the proposed project has specific relevance to the mission and objectives of NINDS and has the potential for significantly advancing the health sciences in the United States.

Note: These criteria are not applied to applications from domestic institutions with foreign components.

Note: PIs of small business awards are not required to have U.S. citizenship, but they must legally reside in the U.S. Foreign institutions and foreign components of U.S. organizations are not eligible to apply for SBIR/STTR awards. Only for-profit organizations with majority ownership by U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens can apply for small business awards. For details, see NIH's Small Business Eligibility Criteria. Per statute, the research or R&D project activity for an SBIR or STTR award must be performed in its entirety in the United States. In those rare instances where the study design requires use of a foreign site or purchase of foreign materials, a waiver may be considered at the time of award.   

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