Additional Eligibility Criteria

The application process is rigorous but with the right preparation and help from an SBA local office or resource partner, the firm will be able to submit a completed application package. In addition to the basic eligibility criteria, there are additional criteria all firms must meet. Here is the list of additional criteria:

Good Character

  • The firm and all its principals must show good character. SBA looks at the following to make this decision:

    • Adverse information regarding criminal conduct

    • Violations of any SBA regulations

    • Debarred or suspended firms 

    • Debarred or suspended persons

    • Submission of false information during the application process or after approval

  • A firm will be automatically declined if the firm, its owner, manager, partners, LLC member, director, officer, key employee, or any owner of more than 10 percent:

    • Lacks business integrity (i.e. any legal issues such as indictments, guilty pleas, convictions, judgments, settlements)

    • Is currently incarcerated or on parole or probation (either pre-trial or following conviction for felony or any crime involving business integrity)

One-Time Only Eligibility

  • Once a firm or disadvantaged individual (upon whom eligibility was based) has participated in the 8(a) program, neither the firm nor that individual will be eligible again. SBA automatically declines these applications
  • A business may participate only once.  Even if ownership and control has completely changed, the firm will be declined if it applies again


  • Only certain franchises are allowed into the 8(a) program 
  • Applications from franchises are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that control requirements are met for the 8(a) program
  • Still, in every case, the franchise must be owned by individuals, and by disadvantaged individuals

Brokers & Nonprofit Organizations

SBA may decline applications from the following:

  • Brokers 
  • Nonprofit organizations (except Community Development Corporations)
  • Businesses owned by another firm, even if that firm is owned by another disadvantaged firm or firms (except for certain firms owned by parent corporation that is, in turn, owned by an Alaska Native Corporation or Native Hawaiian Organization)

Federal Financial Obligations

SBA automatically declines applications where the firm or any of its principals fail to pay significant financial obligations owed to the federal government. See SBA’s regulations for more details. 

More Information

Contact an SBA local office or resource partner for free one-on-one assistance. 

Before starting the application process please consult these online resources: