Magazine article University Business

An American Abroad: How to Protect Your University When Sending Faculty and Staff Overseas

Magazine article University Business

An American Abroad: How to Protect Your University When Sending Faculty and Staff Overseas

Article excerpt

It's no secret that higher education is an increasingly global endeavor. Besides sending a significant number of students to participate in study abroad programs (which has more than tripled in the past two decades), colleges and universities also engage in research projects, collaborations and countless other international activities. To support these enterprises, universities may send their U.S.-based faculty and staff to work abroad on short- and long-term assignments. But these assignments frequently involve unfamiliar--and often overlooked--home- and host-country laws. Failure to comply with these laws can result in fines and reputational damage for the institution.

Don't assume staff on a U.S. payroll are exempt from host-country taxes

This is probably the biggest misconception related to sending faculty and staff abroad, and it can have negative consequences for both the university and the individuals involved. An institution's U.S.-expat and third-country-national (TCN) employees may be required to pay income and social security taxes to host-country authorities even if they remain on a U.S. payroll and continue paying U.S. taxes. Residency laws vary by country, and in some cases workers are required to pay income and social taxes to local authorities after remaining in a country for just a single day.

Learn your employer obligations in the host country

If your staff must pay taxes in a host country, your institution will almost certainly be required to withhold individual income taxes (and possibly social taxes) in the host country and remit them to local authorities. Your institution may also have to register as a legal entity in the host country and fulfill other obligations, such as making quarterly and annual regulatory filings.

Ensure that your staff complies with immigration requirements

It is not uncommon for a faculty or staff member to assume that a tourist visa is sufficient for a U.S.-expat or TCN employee working abroad on behalf of a U.S. institution. Often a work visa--not a tourist visa--is required even for short-term assignments. Failure to comply with visa and work-permit requirements can result in fines, deportation and even imprisonment. …

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