Honoraria Payments to Foreign Visitors

On October 21, 1998, President Clinton signed into law the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act ("ACWIA").

AS LONG AS the visitor will be participating in the activity at USA no longer than nine (9) days, Section 431 of the ACWIA law permits educational and nonprofit research institutions to pay reimbursements for expenses and honoraria to international visitors engaged in short-term academic activities holding either B-1 or B-2 visas or admitted into the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program classification WB or WT.

An Invitation for Visitors Engaged in Academic Activities form must be sent to the visitor prior to his or her trip to the University.

For visitor in the United States in B-1, B-2, combined B-1/B-2, WB, WT, and combined WB/WT status, a Declaration by Visitors Engaged in Academic Activities Form must be completed.

Select Appropriate Form
5A-Invitation Form
5B-Declaration Form
5C-Application for SSN

Frequently Asked Questions

▼   1. Who is allowed to receive reimbursements and honorarium payments under the new "B Honorarium" rule?
Anyone who, while in "B" visa classification, engaged in academic activities at an academic institution or nonprofit research institution. The activity can last no longer than nine days. Visitors are limited to six such reimbursements or honoraria payments in a six-month period.
▼   2. What is "B" visa classification? How do I recognize it?
"B" covers all of the following classification: B-1; B-2; combined B-1/B-2; WB; WT; and combined WB/WT. One of those notations must appear on the Form 1-94 card, Arrival/Departure Record, that is normally stapled into the passport.
▼   3. How is this different from what we were doing before?
Under the old law we could reimburse documented expenses only to those admitted in B-1 or WB, "visitors for business," status. We could not reimburse expenses for those in B-2 or WT, "visitors for pleasure" status. No one could be paid an honorarium. Under the new law, all of these kinds of visitors may receive both reimbursement for expenses and payment of honoraria. Again, this applies ONLY if the conditions outlined in Question 1 are present. If the conditions outlined in Question 1 are not met, please refer to Question 9.
▼   4. How do I document the "B Honorarium" classification for the USA Business Office so they can authorize expense reimbursement and honorarium payments?
Here is a checklist of things the department MUST do before or when an international guest arrives at USA.
  • As part of the invitation to the visitor, send him or her the "Invitation for Visitors Engaged in Academic Activities" and the "Declaration by Visitors Engaged in Academic Activities".
  • At least 20 days before the date payment to the visitor will be made, IRS Form 8233 must be completed and sent to the USA Business Office. Failure to submit Form 8233 before that date could result in United States federal income taxes in the amount of 30% of the payment being withheld from the payment. Also, the Business Office will review a claim of treaty benefits on Form 8233, with the possibility that a denied claim will result in 30% withholding. 
  • Before the visitor arrives, if the visitors do not have social security numbers, you will have to help them apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). It is advisable that the visitor applies for the ITIN at least two months before leaving the foreign country, because the Mobile, Alabama IRS office does not issue ITINs. Payment of the honorarium and expenses will not be made until either the SSN or ITIN are furnished to the USA Business Office. See SSN and ITIN application procedures section.
  • When the visitor arrives, make a photocopy of
  1. The identification page of the passport (If Canadian, see Question 5)
  2. The expiration date page of the passport(may or may not be the same as the ID page)
  3. The page of the passport with the visa on it (certain countries are not required to obtain a visa for entry to the US but this will be noted on the I-94 card)
  4. The Form I-94, front and back
  • When the visitor arrives, help the visitor complete the form entitled "Declaration by Visitors Engaged in Academic Activities" sent to them as part of their invitation.
  • Send copies of the items and forms in 3 (if available), 4, and 5, along with USA Form 99615 "Authorization to Provide Services," to the USA Business Office in an envelope labeled "Foreign Visitor Information."
▼   5. What about the Canadians? Sometimes they come in and have absolutely no documentation. They often don't even carry or have visas.
It is true. Canadians are not required to carry or have visas and often the US INS officers at the border just wave them on through. To cross the border they must carry some form of identification that confirms their Canadian citizenship. Canadians often carry a card version of their birth certificate. You are allowed to accept a document other than a passport that confirms Canadian citizenship. Regarding the I-94, under INS regulations, any Canadian citizen who is admitted without getting a Form I-94 is presumed to be in the US in "B" status.
▼   6. How will I know all this? How will the visitor know all this? Who is going to collect all this information?
To make this as easy as possible for departments and for the international guests, please see attached forms. You should send it to the visitors as invitations and then help them complete the declarations after they arrive at USA. Visitors must make their own declaration about their prior activities. The department can and should confirm only what we know about this visit to USA. The department is responsible for making sure the form is completed, for making the necessary photocopies, and for helping visitors apply for the SSN or ITIN if necessary. The department is not responsible for confirming other visits or activities.
▼   7. Do I still need to request J-1 visas for any of my guest lecturers? Can I just forget about doing that now?
Those people who meet the criteria (see Questions 1, 2, and 4 above) do not need the J-1. The "B" visitor's status is much easier for international scholars to obtain and you do not have to do the paperwork for the J-1. However, any activity that will be over nine days or any activity that puts the scholar over the six-in-six-months limit does not qualify for reimbursement or honorarium payments. Those scholars still will need J-1 status. Also, in any situation where the department or the scholar prefers the J-1 status, the current procedure for such will be followed. If J-1 status is needed, contact the Office of Enrollment Services. (B-1/WB see Question 9)
▼   8. What's the catch? This seems too good to be true. What do I need to look out for?

You are right. It is never as easy as it looks. Problems can occur in the following situations.

  • This only works for the "B" visa classification. Someone coming from another university in another classification is not eligible. Diplomats, employees of foreign governments, military personnel or others on foreign government representative visas do not qualify. For example, employees of the World Bank or a political officer attached to foreign embassies in the US hold visa classes specific to the duties of their posts. They are not permitted to earn additional income through activities such as speaking engagements. Similarly, those who hold H-1B or J-1 status at another school are not eligible for this kind of honorarium payment.
  • If we don't get copies of the Form I-94, we have no evidence that they were in an eligible status.
  • If they don't have a SSN or ITIN, then you cannot pay them. Pay would have to be delayed until they could file for a number from the home country, a process that can take a number of weeks.
  • Nine days is the absolute visit limit, no exceptions. Any activity lasting longer than nine days does not qualify.
  • The academic butterflies flitting from school to school may exceed their limit of six schools in six months. If USA is school number seven, the visit does not qualify and we cannot pay.
▼   9. If the "B Honorarium" rules do not work for me, what are the existing regulations related to B-1/B-2 visa holders?

Foreign nationals entering in B-1/WB status may ONLY be reimbursed for expenses. No honorarium may be paid. Individuals in B-2/WT status CANNOT be reimbursed for expenses or paid honoraria.

▼   10. What other procedures must the department follow?

The University's Form PR 99615 "Authorization to Provide Services" must be completed and sent to the Business Office.