Overview: Inviting and Paying Foreign Visitors

Visitors are invited to Stanford from around the world to speak, collaborate and study. Immigration and tax regulations require advance planning to comply with these regulations when making payment to a foreign visitor. The type of visa on which the visitor enters, the type of activity to be performed and the type of payment to be requested must all be decided before inviting the visitor.

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Compliance Issues

Visas:  Depending upon the type of activity to be performed and type of payment to be requested, it may be necessary for Stanford to apply for an entry visa (generally a J-1 visa) on the visitor's behalf. The visa on which the visitor enters the country is one factor that determines the type of payment that can be made. Immigration regulations prohibit or limit payments to visitors entering on most visa types, including tourist (B-2 or WT), business (B-1 or WB) and diplomatic visas (A-1 or A-2). Stanford must comply with these regulations and, additionally, the visitor is also responsible for complying with the terms of his/her visa and the associated payment restrictions.

Fly America Act:  If a visitor's travel is being funded by government grant or contract, air travel must ensure compliance with the Fly America Act. See Policy Notes: Fly America Act for compliance information.

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Visitor Categories

Summarized below are the types of activities visitors are generally invited to perform and the types of payments allowed for each and the type of visa the visitor must obtain to receive a payment.

Visitor Categories Activity Allowable Visa Types Allowable Payment Types
Short-Term Visitor Speaker, Conference Attendee J-1, B-1 (WB) Travel Reimbursement, Honorarium
Collaborator Works in the lab on research projects of mutual interest, may visit for up to 12 months J-1, B-1 (WB) Subsistence, Travel Grant
Visiting Research Associate or Visiting Senior Research Associate Works in the lab on Stanford's project, permanently employed by another institution, may visit up to 12 months (Appointment information) J-1 Salary
Visiting Scholar Courtesy appointment, performs research not for Stanford's benefit J-1 Honorarium if a talk is presented
Fellow (Non-Postdoctoral, Mid-Career) Appointment in Policy Centers and Institutes J-1 Subsistence, travel grant
Visiting Researcher Conducts research to the mutual benefit of Stanford and the visitor under the supervision of a faculty member (Registration information) J-1 Salary or fellowship
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Visa Types

In most circumstances, Stanford is only able to make payment to a short-term foreign visitor if he/she enters on a J-1, B-1, or WB (waived business) visa status. Visa application and entry information for each is described below:

  • B-1 (WB):  A B-1or WB visa is obtained by the visitor when entering the U.S. on business. Payment can be made to a visitor in this status only if the following criteria are met:

    • Honoraria may be paid if the event lasts no more than 9 days, the service is of direct benefit to Stanford, and the visitor has not accepted more than 5 such payments from other institutions during the previous 6 months. If these criteria are not met, only travel can be reimbursed.
    • Subsistence may be paid to collaborators in a lab if the visit does not exceed 6 months. (Note that if the visa is a WB, the stay is limited to 90 days.)
  • Participating countries in the VWPP (Visa Waiver Pilot Program – WB and WT visas) include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

  • J-1:  A J-1 visa application is initiated by Stanford by the department inviting the visitor. To start the application, visit the Guidelines for Requesting a DS-2019 at Bechtel International Center web site. The funding for the visitor's visit (Stanford or external) must be indicated on the application.

Notes on Other Visa Types
Stanford-sponsored F-1 / J-1 (Student), J-1 (Researcher), H1-B, TN and other non-U.S. citizens authorized for employment in the U.S. may be paid according to normal University policy as it relates to their status (student or employee) with the University.

In limited circumstances, payment may be requested for visitors on other visa types as described below:

  • A-1 (Diplomat):  Must reimburse consulate or vendor directly for travel reimbursements. No other payments allowed.

  • G-1 (World Organization):  Must reimburse world organization or vendor directly for travel reimbursements. No other payments allowed.

  • F-1 (Student) - Not Sponsored by Stanford:  Must receive written permission from sponsor in advance of any payment.

  • J-1 - Not Sponsored by Stanford:  Must receive written permission from sponsor in advance of any payment.

  • H-1 - Not Sponsored by Stanford:  Payment to sponsoring institution only. Payment to the individual not permitted.

  • O-1 (Outstanding) - Not Sponsored by Stanford:  Payment to sponsoring institution only. Payment to the individual not permitted.

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Letter of Invitation

A formal letter of invitation should be provided to the visitor to summarize the terms of the visit. The letter should include the following components:

B-1 Visitor: 

  • Purpose of the visit
  • Period of time covered by the visit
  • Payment offered, including what travel expenses will be covered, original receipt requirements, car rental restrictions on insurance, air fare class allowed, lodging and meal payment or per diem. To review Stanford policy on these items, see Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2 Travel Expenses
  • Note: If spouse or family member accompany visitor, their costs are not reimbursable
  • Type of visa required B-1, and steps involved, including necessity to enter as a business visitor and that no payment will be made if entry is made on a B-2 or WT visa
  • Advise when payments will be received and tax obligations, if any

J-1 Visitor: 

  • Purpose of the visit
  • Period of time covered by the visit
  • Payment offered, including what travel expenses will be covered, original receipt requirements, car rental restrictions on insurance, air fare class allowed, lodging and meal payment or per diem. To review Stanford policy on these items, see Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2 Travel Expenses
  • Note: If spouse or family member accompany visitor, their costs are not reimbursable
  • Type of visa required J-1, and steps involved, including the approximate time the DS-2019 (visa approval document) will be received. The DS-2019 must be taken to the consulate in the visitor's country to obtain the visa and must be carried with the visitor to the U.S. See J-1 application procedures at Bechtel International Center web site
  • If it is necessary to obtain a Social Security Number or ITIN
  • Ask for information necessary to complete the J-1 Visa Request
  • Cover Health Insurance Requirements
  • Advise when payments will be received and tax obligations, if any
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Requesting Payment

All payment requests must include the following documentation:

  • Copy of unexpired foreign passport
  • Copy of I-94 (departure record stapled in passport at arrival point)
  • Copy of DS-2019 (J-1 only)
  • Completed LA-6 Form certifying visitor's U.S. tax status (for Honoraria only)
  • Completed 8233 if claiming tax treaty, with SSN or copy of completed ITIN application (W-7) that has been signed by Bechtel International Center. See Tax Information

Travel reimbursement is submitted in iOU Reimbursements. Honoraria are requested through iOU Other Checks. Reference How To: Initiate Check Request in iOU.

See Process Flow: Process Non-Stanford (Visiting) Speaker Honorarium Payment.

Note:  If payment is made with the ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) in a pending status, 30% of the payment will be withheld as U.S. federal income tax until the IRS issues the ITIN to the payee. If Disbursements receives the ITIN from the Bechtel International Centerl before the end of the calendar year during which the payment was originally made, the withheld amount will be refunded to the payee provided the IRS has not informed Stanford that the treaty application is invalid. If the ITIN is not received before the end of the calendar year, the payee must seek a refund of the tax withholding directly from the IRS.

Subsistence payments and travel grants are requested through Payroll by using the SU-21 Form. Reference How To: Request Subsistence Payment, Travel Grant or Award.

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Tax Information

Most payments to foreign visitors are subject to tax withholding and reporting. Withholding and reporting requirements are described below:

Travel Reimbursement (Stanford business purpose):  Travel reimbursement payments to visitors, where Stanford has a business purpose such as inviting an expert speaker to a conference, are not tax reportable.

Honorarium:  Honorarium payments are tax reportable. Payments are subject to 30% federal withholding and 7% state withholding (if payment exceeds $1,500). The recipient receives a 1042-S (federal) and/or a 592-B (state) form at year-end and must have or apply for a Social Security Number or ITIN. Foreign visitors from a country with a tax treaty can claim exemption from withholding by filing Form 8233 with the iOU request. Reference How To: Claim Tax Treaty for Honorarium.

Subsistence and Travel Grants:  Subsistence and travel grant payments are tax reportable. Payments are subject to 14% federal withholding. The recipient receives a 1042-S (federal) at year-end. The recipient must have or apply for a Social Security Number or ITIN. Foreign visitors from a country with a tax treaty can claim exemption from withholding by filing Form W-8BEN with Payroll. Reference How To: Claim Tax Treaty for Fellowship Payments in the Students - Tax Information section.

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How to Get Help

For questions regarding paying travel reimbursement or honoraria, contact the Financial Support Center (3-2772).

For questions regarding paying subsistence or travel grants, submit a HelpSU ticket to Payroll (Request Category Financial Support and Request Type Payroll).

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