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H-1 (/visasH.htm) | J-1 Scholar (/visasJ.htm) | B Visitor & Visa Waiver | O-1 (/visasO.htm) | TN (/visasTN.htm) | Permanent Residency (/visasPR.htm)

B Visitor & Visa Waiver

Visitors in Business or Tourist Status (B-1, B-2, WB, WT)
Includes 2002 proposed rule changes (subject to change once the rule is finalized)

Tourist and business visitors in B-1, B-2, WB, and WT status are eligible to receive honoraria and reimbursement of incidental expenses under legislation passed October 28, 1998. On May 30, 2002 the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) published a proposed rule, “Academic Honorarium for B Nonimmigrant Aliens,” outlining the procedures for a B visa holder to accept honoraria in connection with academic activities.

A foreign national coming to the US to engage in activities for which he or she intends to accept an honorarium must seek admission to the US as a B-1, rather than as a B-2. For those seeking admission under the Visa Waiver Program, should seek the corresponding Visa Waiver/Business (WB). The proposed regulations state that a B-2 (tourist) or WT (visa waiver tourist) will not violate the terms of admission by accepting an honorarium. If the foreign national knows at time of entry he or she will receive an honorarium then they should enter under the business category.

Only colleges, universities, and non-profit research organizations or governmental research agencies are allowed to pay honoraria and incidental expenses. There is no specific immigration documents to send B visitors. Invitation letters should be sent to the foreign visitor to present at the Consulate/Embassy or Port of Entry. Invitation letters should clearly specify the honorarium related activity as well as the date and location of the activity. We also recommend including a statement that there is no employment associated with this visit to the US and outlining reimbursement conditions.

9-5-6 rule:

M.S.U. may pay honoraria and/or travel expenses if: duration of the activity is 9 days or less; visitor has not been paid/reimbursed by more than 5 other institutions during the past 6 months.
Visits more than nine days see if J-1 is an option.

The new B modifications (no SS/ITIN number needed for payment) are official and are provided in the Manual of Business Procedures: ttp://

The proposed rule defines:
"Honorarium" as a gratuitous payment for participation in a usual academic activity for which no fee is legally required; honorarium may be of any dollar amount.

"Usual academic activity" means those activities for the benefit of the institution that include, but not limited to, lecturing, teaching, consulting, conducting research, attending meetings, symposia or seminars, or otherwise sharing knowledge, experience, or skills in master classes, readings, and performances (when the audience is composed of non-paying students and/or open to the general public and general admission tickets to the public have not been sold), and meetings of boards, committees, or merit review panels. The rule precludes the sale of tickets for usual academic activity, and states that in such circumstances the foreign national would need to avail him or herself of another visa category.

"Associated incidental expenses" reimbursements or payments for travel costs, lodging, meals, uniforms, supplies.

"Prearranged academic activity any academic activity for which an alien will accept an honorarium, if the institution invited the alien's participation before the alien's admission to the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there a specific dollar amount/limit for honorarium?
A: This was not an official limit. $2,000 is an unofficial MSU limit. OISS "approval" will be sought for honoraria in excess of $2,000.

Q: Is there a specific timeframe the dept needs to complete the forms or when should the dept approach the controller's office. Before, during and/or after visit? What if controller's office is informed about the visit after the fact. Is the person still eligible for payment?
A: If the visitor wants to take advantage of any available tax treaty, there is a 10 working day wait following application on IRS Form 8233. The form can be filled in upon arrival assuming the visitor has a US Social security number or tax ID number. If they don't have a SSN/US tax ID number, treaty benefits aren't available, so the visitor completes IRS Form W-8BEN and the timeframe is a normal disbursement voucher timeframe. A validated I-94 is required for any payment, so payment really can't be processed prior to arrival. If controller finds out about the payment after the visitor leaves the US, it will be nearly impossible to make the payment without the I-94 card (Canadians can complete the "substitute I-94 form" after the fact - but others cannot).

Q: What about payment to individuals who perform services outside the US? How does the University pay them? Who at the MSU should be contacted if the dept has questions?
A: If we pay a NRA for work they are doing in their home country, there are no INS or IRS issues. The department should have executed a Independent Personal Services Contract form and ICSDD (see Manual of Business Procedures Section 76) with the contractor before the fact and have an invoice from the contractor along with the direct payment voucher. Accounts Payable (Pat Lynn or Phyllisia Pryor) would be the appropriate office to contact about these matters (3-2011).


The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the US for tourism or business. VWP has been extended permanently and allows qualified travelers to enter the U.S. visa-free if they are citizens of the following countries and meet the following conditions:

1. They are traveling for business or pleasure and have a valid passport issued by a participating Visa Waiver country. The law requires that, by October 26, 2005, Visa Waiver Program countries issue tamper-resistant passports containing biometric identifiers. In addition, Visa Waiver Program travelers will be required to present biometric passports when entering under the program, though only if the passport issued on or after October 25, 2005.

2. They will stay in the U.S. for ninety days (90) or less – no extensions or changing status is allowed.

3. They enter the U.S. via a land border or aboard a participating carrier.

4. They have an onward or return ticket if traveling by air or sea.

5. They have no visa ineligibilities and are a national of the Visa Waiver Program country.

6. They must present to the Immigration Inspector a completed and signed Form I-94W (obtained on an airplane or at a port of entry).

7. They must agree to waive right to review or appeal an Immigration Officer's admissibility decision and waive right to challenge removal.

8. They must not pose a safety threat to the U.S. and have no previous violation of U.S. admission.

List of Countries:
UNITED KINGDOM (for citizens with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man)

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