Honorarium Payments to Foreign Nationals

An honorarium is a gratuitous payment for a foreign national individual’s participation in a usual academic activity, such as lecturing, teaching or other means of knowledge sharing that is for the benefit of the University.

Before committing to an honorarium for a foreign national, departments must ensure the person has the appropriate visa that allows such a payment. For short-term visits made for the purpose of delivering a lecture or speech, only certain visa classifications are authorized to accept an honorarium. An individual already in the U.S. may not necessarily be here in the correct visa classification.

Do not assume that an international visitor holds the correct visa classification, especially if he or she is already in the U.S. You must look at additional sources of information that could include the person's passport visa or stamped I-94 card to determine visa classification.

The honorarium CANNOT be paid for:

  • Individuals bearing responsibility for grading or taking class attendance (follow HR employment processes),
  • Forum, workshop, seminar, lecture series or multiple course lectures that qualify as personal and professional services,
  • Any current employee of UNCSA or other state agencies (pay as supplement pay for UNCSA employee or Dual Employment (CP-30) if employee of another state agency),
  • A foreign national on F-1, H-1B, TN and O visas
  • Travel reimbursements for B-2/VWT visas (Exceptions must be approved in advance by the University Controller),
  • A foreign national who does not meet the 9/6/5 Rule.

Honorarium Rule ("9/5/6" Rule)

9/5/6 Rule is defined as: the activity does not last longer than 9 days at any single institution and the visitor cannot accept honorariums or expense reimbursements from more than 5 institutions in the previous 6-month period).

Who's Eligible to Receive an Honorarium

  • B-1 or B-2 provided the individual meets the conditions of the Honorarium Rule.
  • VWB (Visa Waiver Business) or VWT (Visa Waiver Tourist) provided the individual meets the conditions of the Honorarium Rule. Note: If the event for which the honorarium is offered is arranged before the individual travels to the U.S., the individual must seek admission as a B-1 or VWB non-immigrant.
  • J-1 scholars at the UNCSA or from another university for an occasional lecture at the UNCSA, if permitted by sponsoring institution.
  • H1-B, E3, TN and O-1 visa holders may receive an honorarium only if they are sponsored by the UNCSA. (H-1B, E3, and O-1 visa holders at another university may only receive reimbursement for travel and/or incidental expenses, not an honorarium for academic activity at the UNCSA.) The payment must be processed through the Payroll Office.

Chart of Payments issuable to Foreign Nationals


An honorarium paid to a foreign national is subject to 30% federal tax withholding and 34% if the payment is greater than $1,500 (4% NC income tax withholding) unless the person can claim a tax treaty benefit. Travel reimbursement is not subject to withholding because it is generally not considered income.


The Eligibility Determination Request for Payment to/on behalf of Foreign Individuals must be collected and submitted to Controller's Office prior to the time of service.

Other Documents Potentially Required for Payment:

  • Copy of the passport biographic page, and passport expiration page (if not on biographic page)
  • Copy of the visa
  • Foreign National Information Form (Form can be emailed to financialservices@uncsa.edu)
  • IRS Form W-8BEN
  • If J-1 visa, authorization from the sponsor institution, such authorization for J-1 students must specify that the work was to be done under Academic Training
  • UNCSA Direct Pay Request Form
  • Wire Transfer Request (Contact Controller's Office)
  • Most recently form I-94
  • IRS Form 8233, for claiming treaty benefits (Controller's Office will fill out the form upon request, recipient's signature is required)
  • Copy of social security card or ITIN, if claiming treaty benefits (No treaty benefit is allowed without a valid Social Security Number (SNN) or ITIN)

Reimbursement When Foreign National Exceeds Honorarium Rule

The Honorarium Rule limits how many times over a 6-month period a foreign national holding a "B-1" status visa, or visa waiver business, may receive an honorarium and/or travel reimbursement.

Foreign nationals holding a B-1/VWB or B-2/VWT visa who exceed the rule are not prohibited from giving an invited lecture at the UNCSA. However, they cannot receive an honorarium. Only foreign nationals holding a B-1/VWB may receive reimbursement for travel and/or incidental expenses, up to nine days.