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OSP | FAQ | Special Issues for International Sponsored Programs

What is the Fly America Act?

Federal travelers are required by 49 U.S.C. 40118 to use United States air carrier service for all air travel and cargo transportation services funded by the United States Government. One exception to this requirement is transportation provided under a bilateral or multilateral air transport agreement, to which the United States Government and the government of a foreign country are parties, and which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the requirements of the Fly America Act.

The United States Government has entered into several air transport agreements that allow federal funded transportation services for travel and cargo movements to use foreign air carriers under certain circumstances.

Please contact your assigned OSP staff member if you have any questions.

I am bringing foreign experts to a conference; how do I cover their travel costs?

Travel costs can be paid as described above - through one of AU's travel agencies. Or the traveler can arrange his/her own travel as expense reimbursements can be processed through Accounts Payable. It is best to avoid payments of flat per diems, because such payments to foreign nationals usually entail extensive tax paperwork and filing requirements that are best avoided. Even if they are within the official U.S. government per diem rate, they are treated as taxable income.

Contact your assigned OSP staff member as soon as possible if your project requires the service or participation of any foreign nationals or see Payroll's Foreign National Information guide.

I want to pay a foreign expert an honorarium for attending my event. What do I need to do?

There are two issues here - a) Are the foreign visitors allowed to work and receive payments from an immigration standpoint? and b) Are there any tax liabilities from an IRS standpoint? Generally individuals on a B-1 or B-2 visa are not authorized to work in the United States. However, a special provision was made for higher education institutions effective October, 1998. A new law permits a university to pay honoraria and incidental expenses for a usual academic activity lasting not longer than 9 days at any single institution. The foreign national may not accept payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions within the previous 6 month period. Therefore, an academic honorarium certification must be completed by the foreign national. We recommend that you obtain the certification from the foreign visitor prior to finalizing a speaking engagement. The foreign national must also present a valid visa and Form I-94, Record of Arrival and Departure, as verification of immigration status.

As far as the taxes are concerned, honoraria payments are subject to 30% tax withholding absent tax treaty language to the country. Therefore, it is important for the foreign visitor to receive assistance from the Foreign National Specialist in the Payroll Office to maximize any tax treaty benefits. The dean may decide to gross up the payment and shoulder the tax liability for the individual. Please send a disbursement request form with the appropriate documents to the Payroll Office. 


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