Foreign Activity Operations Guide

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Stanford Personnel Working Abroad

There are a significant range of issues raised when Stanford personnel are either assigned to work in a foreign country, or choose to do so by virtue of their Stanford appointment. Stanford employees working outside the United States, with Stanford as their employer, may be subject to employment-related laws of the foreign nation in which work is conducted. In addition, the existence of Stanford employees outside the United States may trigger additional compliance requirements besides those relating to employment. Therefore, the hiring or reassignment of employees to positions overseas must be supported by an important University business purpose and not be merely an accommodation to the employee. Hiring or reassignment approval must be obtained in advance from the cognizant Dean, Director, Vice-Provost or Vice-President. In addition, the hire or reassignment request must identify the key University business reasons for the assignment. University policy governing international employees can be found in Administrative Guide Policy 2.2.13.

The duration of time spent by the employee in a foreign country is a critical gauge to determine the applicability of certain foreign regulations. Short-term business travel (usually under 60 days) is generally uncomplicated from an immigration and taxation perspective. However, when duration exceeds 90 days, personnel should be aware of the following considerations:

  • Tax Implications:  University employees working overseas, particularly for periods longer than 183 days, should inform themselves about both U.S. and foreign jurisdiction tax regulations. IRS Publication 54 "Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad" provides guidance on a range of issues from U.S. filing information, withholding taxes (including social security totalization agreements), foreign earned income and housing exclusions, other exemptions, deductions and credits and tax treaty benefits.
  • Human Resources / Personnel:  Stanford personnel working abroad are subject to the existing University personnel policies described in Chapter 2. However, it is important to notify central HR in advance of such assignments to ensure that the employee and the University comply with local employment laws in the foreign location. This may involve consultation with outside experts. For assistance, please submit a help request to Global Business Services.
  • Benefits / Health Insurance Coverage:  Stanford personnel traveling abroad on official University business for short-term or extended business purposes should review their individual medical and insurance coverage/s, and inform themselves about the University's emergency medical and evacuation coverage/s through Worldwide Assistance and International SoS. For faculty/staff assigned to work in foreign locations for an extended period, the University offers international health insurance coverage. The health and welfare benefits coverage may be more limited for employees working outside of the U.S. Contact Benefits or call 650-736-2985 for more information.
  • Governing Policies:  Stanford personnel working abroad remain subject to the existing University policies, including the policies described in the University's Administrative Guide, the Stanford Bulletin, the Faculty Handbook and the Research Policy Handbook.

If you have questions, please submit a help request to Global Business Services.