International Visitors and Honoraria

Payment of honoraria can be made to a foreign visitor who enters the U.S. holding a visitor for business visa (B-1) or a visa waiver for business (WB).* Individuals who are already in the U.S. on visitor for pleasure visas (B-2) or visa waivers for pleasure (WT)* may also receive honoraria if the opportunity to render services arises after the individual has entered the U.S. In addition, certain conditions, which are listed below, must be met.

* To find out if the foreign visitor is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and is, therefore, exempt from the requirement to have a U.S. visa in order to enter the U.S., please visit www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#countries .  If the foreign visitor’s country of citizenship is on the VWP list, then s/he does not need to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa. Please note as well that Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.

Honorarium

Honorarium is defined as a gratuitous payment, gift, travel reimbursement or reimbursement of incidental expenses (lodging, meals and/or supplies) which is not made in exchange for services constituting employment.

Required Conditions

  1. The visit at each educational institution lasts nine days or less
  2. No more than five institutions are visited within a six-month period
  3. The payment, gift, travel reimbursement or reimbursement of incidental expenses (lodging, meals and/or supplies) must not be made in exchange for services constituting employment.
  4. The services being provided are typical for an academic environment. Such services would include:
    • lecturing
    • teaching
    • attending meetings of boards or committees that benefit the University
    • performing at events that are open to students and/or to the general public free of charge (e.g. performances, master classes, readings, etc.) 
  5. The host department provides an invitation letter with the following information:
    • nature and type of services being provided 
    • dates when the services will take place--be sure to provide dates of nine days or less
    • location where the services will take place
    • the qualifications of the foreign visitor 
  6. Lawful entry into the U.S. must be documented to the host department. The following documentation can be used to show lawful entry into the U.S.:
    • Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
    • Biographic page of passport (Canadians may substitute a Canadian birth certificate and government-issued photo ID in lieu of the passport)
    • Visa page of passport (if visa is required)
    • Page in passport showing immigration admission stamp
  7. The foreign visitor must have either:
    • a Social Security Number, or
    • an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  8. The foreign visitor may be required to have a machine-readable passport. (For further information, please read the section, “Machine-Readable Passports and Biometrics” below.)

Documentation to be presented to Immigration and Consular Officers

Since 9/11/2001, individuals seeking to enter the U.S. have received closer scrutiny from consular officers and immigration officials. Consequently, documents presented at a U.S. consulate overseas or port-of-entry to the U.S. must clearly state the purpose for the visit and show that the individual is eligible for admission in the requested status.

To apply for a visa or gain admission to the U.S., it is recommended that the following documents be presented:

To apply for a visa (if required):

  • Online DS-160 form
  • One color photograph, as per consulate specifications, must be uploaded when completing the DS-160
  • Passport with at least six-months’ validity (a Machine-Readable Passport is required)
  • Processing fee
  • Invitation letter from the host department stating:
    • the nine-day period during which the qualifying services will be provided
    • the services that will be provided
    • the location where such services will take place
    • the qualifications of the foreign visitor
    • Copies of such invitation letters showing that no more than four other institutions were visited during a six-month period, if applicable
    • Evidence of funds to cover expenses while in the U.S.
    • A round-trip ticket and other documentation to show ties to and intention to return to the home country at the end of the visit

To apply for entry to the U.S. (for individuals with U.S. visas):

  • Passport with at least six months' validity (a Machine-Readable Passport is required)
  • Invitation letter from the host department stating:
    • the nine-day period during which the qualifying services will be provided
    • the services that will be provided
    • the location where such services will take place
    • the qualifications of the foreign visitor
    • Copies of such invitation letters showing that no more than four other institutions were visited during a six-month period, if applicable
    • Evidence of funds to cover expenses while in the U.S.
    • A round-trip ticket and other documentation to show ties to and intention to return to the home country at the end of the visit

To apply for entry to the U.S. (for individuals who are visa-exempt):

  • Passport with at least six months' validity (a Machine-Readable Passport is required; Canadians may substitute a Canadian birth certificate and government-issued photo ID)
  • $6 (USD) processing fee* for Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
  • Invitation letter from the host department stating:
    • the nine-day period during which the qualifying services will be provided
    • the services that will be provided
    • the location where such services will take place
    • the qualifications of the foreign visitor
    • Copies of such invitation letters showing that no more than four other institutions were visited during a six-month period, if applicable
    • Evidence of funds to cover expenses while in the U.S.
    • A round-trip ticket and other documentation to show ties to and intention to return to home country at the end of the visit 

* Fees subject to change without notice

Machine-Readable Passport and Biometrics

The Department of Homeland Security requires all travelers from the Visa Waiver countries to have individual, machine-readable passports in order to enter the United States.

Machine-readable passports are documents that conform to international passport standards and contain biographic data that can be electronically read and transmitted. A machine-readable passport can generally be identified by the presence of two typeface lines printed at the bottom of the passport biographic page. When scanned by a passport reader, these lines electronically provide the officer with the information on the biographical passport page.

Requirement to Obtain ESTA Clearance Before Boarding the Plane

Individuals wishing to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain travel clearance through the free online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)  before boarding a flight bound for the U.S.  Application should be made no later than 72 hours before departing one's country for the U.S. 

Employer Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) Not Needed

An Employer Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) does not need to be completed because the person receiving the honorarium is not an employee of the institution.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

If there is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) representative at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the foreign visitor's country of residence, the foreign visitor may be able to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) before leaving home.

Otherwise, an ITIN can be obtained by filing the Internal Revenue Service Form W-7.  You may also make an appointment with UB’s Human Resource Services. They will assist with the completion and submission of the Form W-7 and required documentation. To make an appointment, call (716) 645-5000. The appointment will take place in University Human Resources, 120 Crofts Hall, North Campus.

Tax Filing Requirements

Honoraria are tax reportable, and may be subject to State and Federal Taxation. New York complies with all tax treaties that the Internal Revenue Service uses. The amount of taxation depends upon the amount exempted by the foreign country’s treaty. If the earned amount is more than the exemption provided, then the difference is taxable. (See IRS Publication 901 for further information.)

For additional information and/or documentation, please contact UB's International Employment Tax Unit at (716) 645-5000 Ext. 1286, or the Internal Revenue Service at (716) 961-5100 or http://www.irs.gov.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this web page is provided as a service to the international faculty, researchers, staff, employees and administrators of University at Buffalo, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither the University at Buffalo nor the Office of UB Immigration Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained on this web page, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Contact

Email: immgsvc@buffalo.edu        Tel. Number: (716) 645-2355