Visitors are invited to Stanford from around the world to speak, collaborate and study. Immigration and tax regulations require advance planning 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 made must all be decided before inviting the visitor.
- For information on inviting domestic visitors to Stanford University, refer to Topic Overview: Inviting and Paying Domestic Visitors.
- For honorarium payments, refer to Topic Overview: Paying Honoraria.
- For information when Stanford University students, staff or faculty travel to foreign countries on university business, refer to Policy: International Travel.
Depending upon the type of activity to be performed and type of payment to be made, 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 visitors are also responsible for complying with the terms of their visa and the associated payment restrictions.
Refer to Resource: Passport and Visa Services.
Fly America Act
If a visitor's travel is being funded by government grant or contract, air travel must comply with the Fly America Act.
Summarized below are the types of activities visitors are generally invited to perform, the types of payments allowed for each and the type of visa the visitor must obtain to receive a payment. Also refer to Information on Visas and Supporting Documents on the Stanford University Bechtel International Center website.
|Visitor Categories||Activity||Allowable Visa Types||Allowable Payment Types|
|Short-term visitor||Speaker, conference attendee||J-1, B-1 (WB)||Travel reimbursement, honorarium|
|H-1, O-1||Travel reimbursement|
|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 scientist or visiting senior research Scientist||Works in the lab on Stanford's project, permanently employed by another institution, may visit up to 12 months (appointment information)||J-1, H-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 student 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|
In most circumstances, Stanford is only able to make payment to a short-term foreign visitor if they enter on a J-1, B-1 or WB (waived business) visa status. Visa application and entry information for each is described below:
A B-1 or WB visa is obtained by the visitor when entering the U.S. on business. (those entering the United States on a WT visa (waiver of tourist visa), may not receive payment from Stanford University. Payment is made to a visitor in the B-1 or WB 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).
The list of participating countries in the VWP (Visa Waiver Program – WB and WT visas) may be found on the U.S. State Department website.
A J-1 visa application is initiated by Stanford by the department inviting the visitor. To find out more about the application, visit the Bechtel International Center website. The funding for the visitor's visit (Stanford or external) must be indicated on the application.
If the J-1 visa is not sponsored by Stanford, the visitor must receive written permission in advance from their sponsor that they may be paid.
Other Visa Types
Stanford-sponsored F-1/J-1 (student), J-1 (researcher), H1, TN and other non-U.S. citizens authorized for employment in the United States 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 the world organization or vendor directly for travel reimbursements. No other payments allowed.
- F-1 (Student) - Not Sponsored by Stanford: Must receive written permission from the sponsor in advance of any payment.
- J-1 – Not Sponsored by Stanford: Must receive written permission from the sponsor in advance of any payment.
- H-1 – Not Sponsored by Stanford: Payment of any kind to the sponsoring institution is not permitted. Reasonable travel reimbursement from Stanford to the individual is permitted, Compensation for service payment of any kind to the individual is not permitted.
- O-1 (Outstanding) - Not Sponsored by Stanford: Payment of any kind to the sponsoring institution is not permitted. Reasonable travel reimbursement from Stanford to the individual is permitted. Compensation for service payment of any kind to the individual is not permitted.
For visitor visa-related travel reimbursement and payment questions and concerns, please submit a Support Request.
Letter of Invitation
A formal letter of invitation should be provided to the visitor to summarize the terms of the visit. Departments may utilize the Visitor Travel Policy Letter Template to summarize these policies and tailor the content as needed. The letter should include the following components:
- 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. To review Stanford policy on these items, refer to Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses.
- Note: If spouses or family members accompany visitors, 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.
- 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. To review Stanford policy on these items, refer to Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses. If spouses or family members accompany visitors, 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 United States. Refer to the Bechtel International Center website for more information.
- If it is necessary to obtain a Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).
- Cover Health Insurance Requirements
- Advise when payments will be received and tax obligations, if any
Required Documents for Payment Requests
All payment requests require that the payee (or authorized agent, which may be Stanford staff, a family member or other individual with access to the payee’s confidential information) provide the following documentation via the secure Supplier Query and Request:
- Copy of unexpired foreign passport
- Copy of visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) (for Visa Waiver countries)
- Copy of I-94 (departure record; get most recent I-94)
If the payee is a U.S. citizen but is being reimbursed for expenses paid for a foreign visitor, such as airfare or lodging, the documents listed above must be provided.
Additional Required Documents for Honorarium Payments
- Completed Stanford LA-6 Form certifying visitor's U.S. tax status
- Completed Form 8233 if claiming a tax treaty, with SSN or copy of completed ITIN application (W-7) that has been signed by Bechtel International Center. Refer to Tax Information section on this page.
- Copy of DS-2019 (J-1 only) and invitation letter
This documentation should not be submitted as back-up documentation attached to the expense report or payment request transaction. Confidential tax and banking information must be submitted by the supplier/payee or authorized agent via the secure Supplier/Payee Request Portal. Refer to the following for more information:
• System: Supplier Query and Request
• How To: Complete a Request for Confidential Information in the Stanford Supplier and Payee Registry
Payment Request Instructions and Tax Information
The following table provides the payment request system and instructions by payment type, and a glance of the tax information. More tax information for each payment type can be found below the table.
|Payment Type||Request System||Instructions||Tax Information|
|Travel Reimbursement (Stanford business purpose)||Expense Requests > Expense Report||How To: Create Expense Report for Non-SU Payees (Visitor Reimbursement)||
Not tax reportable
|Honorarium Payments||Expense Requests > Non-PO Payment||Tax reportable
(See Tax Information below)
|Subsistence and Travel Grant Payment||Payroll > SU-21 Form||How To: Request Subsistence Payments and Travel Grants for Visitors||Tax reportable
(See Tax Information below)
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 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. Refer to How To: Claim Tax Treaty for Honorarium for more information.
If payment is made with the ITIN 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 the Business Expense team receives the ITIN from the Bechtel International Center 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 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. Refer to How to: Claim Tax Treaty for Fellowship Payment in the Students - Tax Information section for more information.