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Other Conduct of Research Issues

11.2 International Issues

It is University policy to conform to all sponsor requirements governing the employment of and payment of services provided by foreign nationals. For projects that expect to include an international consultant as part of the project, contact your OSP administrator.

Many agencies require a letter of commitment from the international consultant and this may need to be included with the proposal. Some sponsors have limitations on who can be paid from sponsored research funds. For example, only U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, and foreign nationals who possess permanent resident status may be appointed as trainees on Public Health Service (PHS) training grants or as individual PHS fellows. The Department of Defense also may have restrictive language regarding export and the use of foreign nationals on some of their contracted work. Contact the appropriate OSP administrator if you have concerns regarding foreign nationals paid from or collaborating on a sponsored project.

The United States Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Regulations impose certain limitations on the length of a consulting engagement and the employment of foreign nationals. PI’s should discuss all sponsored projects with an international component with OSP. Additionally, the University Human Resources Office, International Center, and the Tax Services office should be contacted regarding employment and payment of foreign nationals.

11.2.1 International Tax Issues

There are a number of federal tax issues when a non-resident alien is hired by the University to perform work under a sponsored contract or grant. Some of these issues include visa restrictions, income tax issues and tax treaties between the United States and the student/faculty/consultant's country of residence. To obtain guidance in filling out the required IRS forms for non-resident aliens, contact the Tax Services Office.

11.2.2 International Contracting

In the event a sponsor is a non-U.S. sponsor, or a sponsored project involves the use of an international subcontractor, the PI is required to contact OSP to negotiate the required international agreements. There are many unique contracting issues that arise in international relationships that must be considered before entering into these agreements. Some of these issues include:

Fluctuating exchange rates and choice of currency. The University of Utah prefers to have all projects funded in and payment options provided in U.S. dollars. However, this is not always negotiable with some sponsors. The fluctuation of exchange rates must be considered when foreign currencies are used. PIs must pay close attention to the actual amount of funds available when completing a project that is funded in foreign currencies. If the PI overspends on a project due to fluctuations in exchange rates, the PI and/or his or her department will be responsible for any such over expenditures. See Foreign Currency in the Procedure Library.

Payment options. In some nations, the banking system is not as flexible as the U.S. system and there are other financial considerations depending on which nation is involved in a particular project. Travel costs associated with payment options need to be considered when preparing an international project budget. If a sponsor wishes to pay via bank wire transfer, the PI should take into consideration international wire transfer fees when preparing a sponsored research proposal budget.

Choice of law and alternate dispute resolution. As an agency of the State of Utah, the University of Utah cannot agree to be governed by the laws of a separate sovereign. Most commercialized countries have signed a treaty which recognizes arbitration awards in international disputes. There is not a similar treaty automatically recognizing judicial awards. Therefore, international contracts should not provide for Alternate Dispute Resolution in the form of Arbitration, if possible.

Terms of art in international agreements. Some international contracts contain terms of art that seem benign on their surface, but can have larger legal consequences due to particular laws in different nations. Therefore, a University of Utah contract should be used for international agreements whenever possible. Each contract must be reviewed on a case by case basis by the OSP office and other University offices as needed.

International intellectual property and patents. The PI should discuss potential intellectual property that may arise from a particular research project with Technology Licensing. Other nations have laws that are different from U.S. laws governing the patent process, so timely interaction with the Technology Transfer Office is crucial in international projects.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Whenever international contacts are made, a PI should be aware of the provisions of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). This act makes it illegal to pay any foreign government official or agent to influence the outcome of a given transaction. Some fees are not illegal under the FCPA. If a PI has any questions or concerns about the FCPA, the University Office of General Counsel should be contacted as soon as possible.



Last Updated: 4/29/24