On 21 October 1998, President Clinton signed into law the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA). Prior to that legislation, universities struggled for years with the problem of paying the honoraria and reimbursements we had promised to international guest lecturers who came into the United States in visitor or tourist visa classification. Duke has been using the provisions of the law almost since the day it was signed, and during that time we have worked to inform Duke faculty and staff and our international guests of the documentation that federal law requires us to collect and keep.

It is the failure to collect and copy appropriate documents that causes most of the difficulty in making payments and reimbursements to these guests.

This FAQ will summarize the law and help you prepare for and accomplish the specific document collection and record keeping that the federal government requires.

Section 431 of the 1998 law permits educational and nonprofit research institutions to pay reimbursements for expenses and honoraria to international visitors engaged in academic activities. The Visa Services has prepared this FAQ, with tables and links, to give you the basics on how to use this law.

It is important that we understand which people qualify, what documents we need to collect while they are in the United States, and how to prepare the request to Accounts Payable. If we do not collect the required documents, Duke will not have the legal documentation it needs to pay the individual and withhold and report taxation properly. Failure to meet Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documentation requirements can result in fines to Duke.

The text of the law in the Immigration and Nationality Act is very short, and we reproduce it here.

INA Section 212(q)

"Any alien admitted under section 101(a)(15)(B) may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for a usual academic activity or activities (lasting not longer than 9 days at any single institution), as defined by the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of Education, if such payment is offered by an institution or organization described in subsection (p)(1) and is made for services conducted for the benefit of that institution or entity and if the alien has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions or organizations in the previous 6-month period."

The "subsection (p)(1)" reference describes the organizations as

  • An institution of higher education (as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965), or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity.
  • A nonprofit research organization or a Governmental research organization.

Invitation for Visitors Engaged in Academic Activities

Declaration By Visitors Engaged In Academic Activities

Frequently Asked Questions

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