Non-competitive Eligibility (NCE)

  • Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) is a special hiring authority through which Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) can be appointed to federal positions without competing with the general public. This makes it easier for federal employers to hire qualified candidates. 
  • As a result of the Federal Civilian Hiring Freeze that took place from 01/22/2017 to 04/12/2017, family members who were within the 3 year NCE validity period during that period may be eligible for up to an 81 day extension since there were no opportunities for federal employment at that time (5 CFR 315.608 d.1). Such an extension is subject to approval by Civil Service Human Resources Management and would only be granted when the Department of State is considering an offer of employment to a family member with NCE that is about to expire.

NCE Information:

Information for Foreign Service Family Members

Executive Order 12721 (5 CFR 315.608) enables certain Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFM) to be appointed non-competitively to a career-conditional appointment in the Civil Service once they have resumed residency in the United States. To be eligible, the AEFM must have completed 52 weeks of creditable service, or 2,087 hours, in a Family Member Appointment (FMA) or Temporary (TEMP) Appointment overseas. The AEFM must have received a fully successful or above performance rating. NCE status is valid for three years after the date the AEFM resumes residency in the United States.  It is important for family members to understand that NCE is not a hiring preference nor does it guarantee employment with the federal government.

Required Documentation to Verify Your NCE:
  • First and last Notification of Personnel Action forms (SF 50s) for every federal position held as these confirm the duration of the appointment(s) and the last grade and step*
  • Most recent signed Employee Performance Review (EPR)*
  • NCE Verification Letter (request this from post HR)

*Download and print these documents while you still have access to your eOPF in HR Online

Resources for Finding Federal Employment:
Additional Information:

Information for Federal Employers

Hiring Foreign Service family members with NCE not only saves your agency time and money, but allows you to tap into a talented, professional pool of candidates. Family members who have completed 52 weeks (or 2087 hours) of creditable service in a Family Member or TEMP Appointment  overseas, with a fully successful  or above performance rating, have NCE for three years after resuming residency in the United States. They can be hired without having to go through the formal announcement and review process and without opening the position to the general public as regulated by 5 CFR 315.608.

Benefits of Hiring Family Members with NCE:
  • Diverse Talents.  Many speak foreign languages; hold college or advanced degrees; and possess skills in the fields of HR, IT, project management, administration, communication, economics, legal fields, and medicine.
  • Security Clearances. Many family members already hold a security clearance that may simply require reciprocity or revalidation.
  • Flexible hiring process.  Noncompetitive eligibility for competitive service positions is authorized by Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 315.608 and rules 37-38 of Table 9-G in the Guide to Processing Personnel Actions thereby allowing a federal agency to circumvent the standard, time-consuming competitive hiring process.
Finding NCE Candidates:
  • The Network. Employers can specifically target this talented and easy-to-hire pool of candidates by advertising vacant positions via FLO’s email subscription service, The Network, at no cost saving valuable time in the hiring process. This page also features concise instructions and a job posting form.
  • USAJOBs. Employers should include “former overseas family members” or “family of overseas employees” in the “Who May Apply” section to target this talented pool of candidates.
Additional Information:

Information for Department of State (DOS) Employers

Foreign Service family members with experience working in a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas, and former Department of State Civil Service employees with reinstatement eligibility returning from an overseas post, represent a talented pool of skilled professionals.  Federal agencies can hire Foreign Service family members who have earned NCE without having to go through the formal announcement and review processes and without opening the position to the general public. Family members who have completed 52 weeks (or 2087 hours) of creditable service in a Family Member Appointment or TEMP appointment overseas, with a fully successful  or above performance rating, have NCE for three years after resuming residency in the United States as regulated by 5 CFR 315.608

Benefits of Hiring Family Members with NCE:
  • Diverse Talents.  Many speak foreign languages; hold college or advanced degrees; and possess skills in the fields of HR, IT, project management, administration, communication, economics, legal fields, and medicine.
  • Overseas Experience.  Family members who have worked in an embassy or consulate overseas have desired skills and experience working among the interagency community in an intercultural environment.
  • Security Clearances. Many family members are in the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC) which holds their clearance active with the Department of State.
Finding NCE Candidates:
  • The Network. Employers can specifically target this talented and easy-to-hire pool of candidates by advertising vacant positions via FLO’s email subscription service, The Network, and save valuable time in the hiring process. The page also features concise instructions and a job posting form.
  • USAJOBS. Department of State hiring managers may also fill job openings by selecting NCE candidates from vacancy announcements on USAJOBS.gov that state, “All Federal Employees, Limited to Department of State employees only” and/or “Non-competitive eligible,” if the family member is currently on Department of State rolls in the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC).

If the NCE candidate is no longer on the Department of State’s rolls as an employee or  in Reserve Status in the FSFRC then the hiring office must ensure that Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) and Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) priority list requirements have been followed before moving forward with a hiring action. Discuss hiring procedures with your designated bureau HR representative.

Additional Information:

The Non-competitive Eligibility (NCE) Registry*

*The NCE Registry is temporarily suspended.

 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about NCE

The following information has been developed to familiarize Foreign Service family members, Human Resources Officers (HROs), and hiring officials with the terms of Executive Order (EO) 12721 as regulated in 5 CFR 315.608. This information  explains how work performed in an overseas mission can help them to gain employment with the U.S Government when residing in the U.S. It also a resource for hiring officials and HR specialists in the U.S. who are often called upon to interpret 5 CFR 315.608 when hiring domestically and to post’s HR offices that may be asked to respond to verification requests. Family members seeking employment with other federal agencies should contact the HR office of the agency advertising the vacancy to ensure that they understand how to take advantage of this special hiring authority.

  1. What is Executive Order 12721?
  2. Who is eligible?
  3. What kind of work earns credit?
  4. What is the time limit for using the eligibility?
  5. How many times can the eligibility be used?
  6. What about eligibility extensions?
  7. Does time in FSFRC reserve status or Intermittent No Work Scheduled status earn credit?
  8. Are there service waivers?
  9. How does an EFM use Executive Order 12721 when applying for federal jobs?
  10. What employment records demonstrate NCE eligibility?
  11. How can The Network connect family members with “NCE required” jobs?
  12. What is the NCE Registry and how do I enroll?
  13. Where can I find more information?

  1. What is Executive Order 12721 Eligibility?

Executive Order 12721, as regulated by 5 CFR 315.608, enables certain Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFM) to be appointed non-competitively to a career-conditional appointment in the Civil Service once they return to the U.S. Those individuals may be hired into any federal occupation and at any grade level for which they are qualified. Once a family member is converted to a Civil Service appointment, they are no longer on a Family Member Appointment (FMA) and must fulfill the same one-year time-in-grade requirements as any other career-conditional Civil Service employee in order to apply for higher graded positions. (To learn more about this subject, refer to the merit promotion policies of each agency.)

  1.  Who is eligible?

To be eligible, the AEFM must have completed 52 weeks of creditable service, or 2,087 hours, in a Family Member Appointment (FMA) or Temporary (TEMP) Appointment overseas. Work must be performed during the time the family member was accompanying an employee sponsor officially assigned to an overseas post. The AEFM must have received a fully successful or better performance rating and must have been an AEFM at the time s/he met the overseas service requirement, but does not need to be an AEFM at the time of non-competitive appointment in the U.S.

  1. What kind of work earns credit?

Creditable service may have been under more than one Family Member Appointment (FMA) and need not be continuous. If the individual is separated and subsequently reemployed (e.g., terminated in June and re-hired in September), the time spent in non-employed status does not count toward the 52 weeks. Leave Without Pay (LWOP) taken during the time an individual is overseas, that does not exceed six months in any calendar year, is credited on the same basis as time worked. Regularly scheduled part-time work is credited as full-time service for the purpose of earning NCE. An FMA in and of itself does not convey Executive Order Eligibility. In order to obtain eligibility, an employee must serve in a qualifying position.

  • Family Member Appointment (FMA) for the requisite 52 weeks In a regularly scheduled full-time or part-time position.
  • Temporary appointment for the requisite 2,087 hours on an intermittent work schedule.

Family members in the Foreign Service Family Member Reserve Corps (FSFRC) reserve status or Intermittent No Work Scheduled (INWS) status who also have non-competitive eligibility may apply for positions, “limited to Department of State employees only” as well as those advertised for “all federal employees.”

Temporary appointments are direct-hire, non-career appointments for positions established for one year or less. They may also be used with a full-time, part-time, or Intermittent Work Schedule. Temporary appointments convey creditable U.S. Government service and non-competitive eligibility under E.O. 12721; however, under a temporary appointment, employees qualify for non-competitive eligibility ONLY if they have accrued 2,087 hours.

  1. What is the time limit for using the eligibility?

An individual is eligible for temporary, term, excepted, or career-conditional appointments under E.O. 12721 for a period of three years following the date of return from overseas to the U.S. to resume residency. Once an individual is appointed into the competitive service, he/she must fulfill the qualification requirements (i.e., specialized experience, time in grade, etc.) before competing for other competitive service positions within the Department of State or another agency.

If the employee sponsor returns to the U.S. on a short-term tour, such as temporary duty assignment (TDY) or training and not a permanent change of station (PCS), the family member is not establishing residency. Therefore, the family member with NCE retains the eligibility unless they invoke NCE during the short-term tour in the U.S. Once the family member has a permanent change of station (PCS) to the U.S. and establishes residency, the family member then has three years to use NCE. For further information, contact FLOAskEmployment@state.gov.

  1. How many times can the eligibility be used?

The Department of State’s policy permits a one-time use of NCE for all career and career-conditional appointments. This means that once NCE has been invoked for a Department of State career or career-conditional appointment or the three-year eligibility period has passed, an EFM must earn NCE again by working in a Family Member Appointment overseas. Family members should consult non-Department of State agencies to verify their policies related to the one time use of NCE. However, an individual may use NCE more than once for temporary, term, or excepted service positions in the Civil Service within the Department of State even if NCE was required to secure the position.

  1. What about eligibility extensions?

An agency may extend an individual’s appointment eligibility beyond three years.  This would be for a period equivalent to the time the individual was accompanying a sponsor on an official assignment to an area of the U.S. where no significant opportunities for federal employment; or, the time an individual was incapacitated for employment.

  1. Does time in FSFRC reserve status or Intermittent No Work Scheduled status earn credit?

No. An individual in Foreign Service Family Member Reserve Corps (FSFRC) reserve status or Intermittent No Work Scheduled (INWS) status does not receive pay, benefits, or service credit. However, while the family member is in FSFRC reserve status or INWS status, s/he remains on the rolls of the Department of State. FSFRC reserve status and INWS status, together with NCE, enables the family member to apply for a broader range of advertised positions.

  1. Are there service waivers?

Yes. Up to 26 weeks of the 52 week service requirement may be waived when the head of an agency (or designee) that employed the family member overseas certifies that the family member’s 52 weeks of employment were cut short because of a non-personal situation that necessitated the relocation of the family member from the overseas post. The certification must include the number of weeks waived. For this purpose, a non-personal situation includes disaster, conflict, terrorism or the threat of terrorism, and those situations when a family member is forced to return to the U.S. because of military deployment, drawdowns, or other management-initiated actions. Family members who believe they meet one of these exceptions can contact FLOAskEmployment@state.gov.

  1. How does an EFM use Executive Order 12721 when applying for federal jobs?

Vacancy announcements state clearly in the “who can apply” section the type of eligible applicant. Those with Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) earned under E.O. 12721 can apply to announcements that include non-competitive candidates in their area of consideration. The descriptions of which non-competitive candidates may apply vary from one announcement to another, depending on the agency. However, many announcements will have one or more of the following descriptions as an indicator that those with NCE may be considered: E.O. 12721, special hiring authorities, former overseas employees, family of overseas employees, non-competitive candidates, and candidates under 5 CFR 315 Subpart F. Applicants must submit copies of personnel actions (SF-50s) and performance appraisals to verify eligibility.  Some offices within the Department of State and the NCE Registry require an NCE Verification Letter which should be requested from the HR office at post.  For further guidance, contact FLOAskEmployment@state.gov.

When applying for positions outside the Department of State, a copy of these FAQs may be included in the application package to assist the hiring official.

  1. What employment records demonstrate NCE eligibility?

To use NCE to secure federal employment, candidates must have all the requested documentation to confirm eligibility when they apply for the job. Before leaving a Family Member Appointment (FMA) overseas, family members should download all pertinent information from the HR Online portal (eOPF on HR Online) while they have access. They should have:

  • Electronic and paper copies of their first and last Notification of Personnel Action forms (SF 50s) for every federal position held as these confirm the duration of the appointment(s) and the last grade and step*
  • Most recent signed Employee Performance Review (EPR)*
  • NCE Verification Letter (request this from post HR)

The SF-50s, verification letter, and the performance review should be scanned into one document and emailed as an attachment when applying for a vacancy or uploaded to USAJOBS.gov.

  1. How can The Network connect family members with “NCE required” jobs?

The Network email subscription service connects family members with potential employers. FLO searches for federal job opportunities that family members with NCE would be considered for non-competitive hire upon their return to the U.S. FLO also works with other organizations to locate job opportunities, providing family members information on government contractors, NGOs, and other private sector positions in the U.S. Family members may register to receive this information by sending an email to FLONetwork@state.gov. Include the employee sponsor’s name, agency affiliation, and the family member’s personal email address.

  1. What is the NCE Registry and how do I enroll?

The NCE Registry was created for family members who have earned NCE and/or are former Civil Service employees with reinstatement eligibility who are returning from overseas. It is a tool to connect Department of State hiring managers to potential job applicants. When a hiring manager has an open vacancy, he/she can request a list of potential applicants based upon their skills and experience. *The NCE Registry is temporarily suspended. 

  1. Where can I find more information?

The complete text of Executive Order 12721 is found in 5 CFR Part 315.608 as amended on July 20, 2012. Visit FLO’s Employment pages with information on The Network, and NCE Registry information. For further questions, contact the Family Liaison Office at FLOAskEmployment@state.gov.

U.S. Department of State

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