Faculty and Staff Working Abroad

Learn about faculty and staff working abroad for Columbia University. 


Columbia faculty and employees normally based in New York may desire to work on a project overseas while retaining their university appointment, compensation, and benefits. These arrangements require careful review from a tax, labor, and regulatory standpoint, driven primarily by the laws of the local country, which can differ widely.

Columbia travel to another country for more than a brief duration can trigger an overseas host country’s tax and regulatory regimes for both the individual traveler and Columbia. Also, multiple, nonconsecutive trips to the same destination during the course of a year may be treated in the aggregate for purposes of visa needs, work authorizations, and taxes.

Issues to consider include:

Advantages: Columbia can be confident in the quality and performance of its faculty, researches, and other staff (assuming sometimes those overseas might be administrators or other). The University retains direct oversight of its research and academic activities.

Disadvantages: Compliance with host-country regulatory and tax requirements can be complex and expensive to meet.

For additional details, please refer to the Policy on Faculty and Staff Working Overseas.

Should you have questions, please email [email protected].


For additional details, please refer to the Policy on Faculty and Staff Working Overseas.


Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty, Researchers, and Students

Considering responding to an international RFA; what do I need to know?

Faculty and researchers considering requests for proposals that will require operations outside the U.S., could benefit from reviewing the topics under the Getting Started section of the International Operations pages.

I was invited to do a lecture in another country; how do I pay for logistics?

Faculty members going to other countries to present or lead a lecture may need to pay for some logistical items there. Making payments, depending on the costs and the types of vendors in that country, can present added difficulties when this is done while traveling outside the U.S. There are several options to do this depending on the type of activity, the amount of the payments and the location. It could be helpful to review the Expense How-Tos page and the International Travel page of the Columbia Travel and Expense site.

Before conducting research in a foreign country, what approvals are needed?

In addition to departmental review procedures, the approval by a Columbia Institutional Review Board (IRB) is required prior to the conduct of any human subject research. International projects will also require review and/or approval by an ethics board or IRB in the host country. In addition, some projects may require review by the University’s International Research Committee. Finally, research that requires transporting instruments outside the U.S. may require export licenses from the State Department or the Department of Commerce.

Researchers should review the section on Securing Approvals under Plan for International Activities.  Regarding human subjects research, consult a Columbia IRB office for additional information, either CU Morningside IRB or CUIMC IRB. For export control and other research compliance issues, contact the Office of Research Compliance and Training at [email protected].

Deans, Administrators, and Staff

Staff and students are traveling for 6 months; how do we ensure their safety?

Within the Safety and Emergency Preparedness page of the Getting Started section of the International Operations page, Deans and Department administrators can get guidance on preparations and processes that can be helpful in preserving the safety and security of their students and staff when they are traveling outside the U.S.


Still have questions?

Visit our Service Center.