International Travel and Activities
Issued February 24, 2021
.070 Extended Travel/Employees and "Independent Contractors" Working Abroad — HR, Cost/Benefit Assessments and Related Legal Concerns
.080 International Accident and Health Insurance and Travel Health Consultations for Employees and Students Traveling Internationally
Kansas State University recognizes the need, benefits and opportunities presented for its employees and students to travel and conduct activities abroad on official university business. This Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM) is designed to encourage responsible international engagement and aid university employees and students in the planning of their international travel and activities when they are conducted on behalf of the university or as part of a university program.
This PPM applies to all Kansas State University employees and students while traveling on university-sponsored international travel, regardless of the funding source. This policy sets forth the requirements that employees and students must meet before and during university-sponsored international travel. This policy does not apply to personal international travel when it is neither on behalf of the university nor as a participant in a university-sponsored program.
- Elevated Risk Location: A country or region identified by the university as presenting elevated risk for international travel, based upon information from the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Export: The actual shipment or transmission of items out of the United States. It also refers to the release of technology or source code (“technology”) to a foreign national within the U.S. or abroad, commonly referred to as “Deemed Export.”
- Deemed Export: Technology released to a foreign national regardless of location. Technology is released when it is made available to a foreign person in the form of visual inspection such as reading technical specifications, plans, blueprints, etc., verbal or oral exchange, or by practice or application under guidance of a person with knowledge of the technology. This transfer of information is an export because it is ‘deemed’ to have been exported to the person’s country or countries of origin.
- International travel and/or activity: Any activity conducted abroad, or which otherwise involves an international collaboration, funding or other component, that is sponsored by the university, including for example:
- Conducting research through a university grant, or otherwise at the direction of the university, in a foreign country or otherwise involving persons, materials, or natural resources in a foreign country.
- Engaging in university work while residing in a foreign country.
- Traveling with students in a foreign country within the scope of a K-State employee’s job responsibilities.
- Setting up an office or leasing space in a foreign country.
- Contracting or otherwise collaborating with a foreign government or private entity.
- Making or receiving payments from a foreign entity.
- Training persons in foreign countries.
- Employee: Any person employed by the university in any capacity, including faculty and staff.
- Volunteer: Any person engaged by the university to provide services on a volunteer basis without compensation. Throughout this policy, “employee” requirements may encompass requirements of “volunteers” when participating in university-sponsored international travel or other international activity, where it is not focused on employee benefits or compensation. Any volunteer serving on the university’s behalf in university-sponsored international travel shall complete a written Volunteer Agreement, available here.
- Student: Any person currently enrolled in an academic program of the university, including but not limited to degree programs, credit bearing non-degree programs, and professional certificate or executive education programs.
- University-sponsored: Any program or activity authorized by the university and/or supervised by a university employee within the context of employee’s university employment, regardless of funding source, including but not limited to those programs or activities hosted by a university office, department, departmental student organization or other university units. An employee traveling while on leave of any type is generally not university-sponsored. Questions about whether a particular activity or travel is university-sponsored should be directed to the employee’s supervisor, who may consult with Education Abroad, the Assistant Vice President for Risk and Compliance, and/or the Office of General Counsel, as needed.
The university requires all employees and students engaged in university-sponsored international travel to register their travel on the K-State International Travel website prior to traveling. Travel registration is mandatory and travelers who fail to register their travel may face disciplinary action, which could include their travel reimbursement not being approved. Note: for domestic travel, travelers on university-sponsored travel must still obtain approval, prior to travel, on the Request for Out-of-State Travel form.
Travel registration provides the university with the information it needs to conduct risk assessments, export controls compliance review, locate travelers, and provide information or assistance in the event of a crisis or emergency. Students participating in programs administered by the Education Abroad Office have their travel registered through the Education Abroad Office (see section .060). Students not participating in international travel administered by Education Abroad Office need to use the university travel registration system. Available services to registered travelers may include emergency medical support, embassy information, repatriation, and medical evacuation. An additional form is required for all employees and students planning to travel to Elevated Risk Locations, which is discussed in section .050. In cases of group travel, the university department, school, or administrative unit that is supporting the travel is responsible for complying with this policy and identifying an individual to complete the paperwork on behalf of the group. Any questions related to travel registration can be directed to the Assistant Vice President for Risk and Compliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Department of State has a website which provides travel advisories, as well as safety and security information, for every country in the world. K-State strongly recommends each traveler register on the website or download the mobile app to gain access to real-time information.
The U.S. State Department ranks travel advisory levels in four categories: 1) Exercise normal precautions; 2) Exercise increased caution; 3) Reconsider travel; and 4) Do not travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has three travel health notice levels: 1) Practice Usual Precautions; 2) Practice Enhanced Precautions; and 3) Avoid Nonessential travel. The CDC also has four COVID-19 levels: 1) Low; 2) Moderate; 3) High; 4) Special Circumstances/Do not travel.
The university generally disfavors employees or students participating in university-sponsored international travel to any locations categorized as Level 3 or Level 4 by the U.S. Department of State, classified as Warning Level 3 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or classified as COVID-19 level 3 or level 4. The supervisor — or in the case of student travel that is faculty led, the supervisor or faculty — must seek prior approval before registering and booking any travel, by completing the elevated risk section of the international travel registration form.
In the case of Education Abroad programs managed by the Education Abroad Office, such as faculty-led, university exchange, third-party provider or direct enroll, the faculty and/or student planning to travel must meet with an Education Abroad Advisor prior to submitting their request for approval.
The International Risk Advisory Working Group will convene a small group to review the information and will make a recommendation to the applicable Vice President or the Provost/Executive Vice President, who will make the final decision on behalf of the university to approve or disapprove the travel. That decision may include additional risk mitigation requirements, including, but not limited to, requiring the traveler/travelers to sign an Assumption of Risk and General Release Form.
The supervisor and/or faculty will be notified of the decision on whether or not travel is approved within five (5) business days of submitting the travel request. Travelers may appeal the decision in writing to IRAWG@ksu.edu. The appeal will be submitted to the Provost for review. Once the travel has been approved, the traveler should then register their travel on the K-State international travel website and proceed with booking their trip.
Any employee arranging or otherwise facilitating university-sponsored international travel for students must register the university travel and/or activities through the university Education Abroad Office. The employee may do so by emailing email@example.com for additional guidance. The purpose of this is to ensure all students participating in university-sponsored international travel register their travel in advance through K-State Education Abroad for risk management, international health insurance, international liability insurance and emergency support purposes. Additionally, Education Abroad is responsible for facilitating contracts for any services, lodging and other arrangements for student international travel that is managed by Education Abroad; all such contracts should first be reviewed by the unit, then submitted to Education Abroad for review, which will forward them to the Office of General Counsel, Assistant Vice President for Research Compliance and the Office of Risk and Compliance for review. (See PPM 3070).
If the proposed student travel includes going to an Elevated-Risk Location, the process set in section .050 above must also be followed.
.070 Extended Travel/Employees and “Independent Contractors” Working Abroad – HR, Cost/Benefit Assessments, and Related Legal Considerations
Hiring, transfer, or assignment of university employee(s), or engaging an “independent contractor,” outside of the U.S. must be supported by a demonstrable university business purpose and approved in writing by the applicable department head, dean, or vice president. Before providing such approval for an employee to work abroad for more than two weeks, the department head, dean, or vice president should undertake the following steps:
- Consider additional costs in light of the regulatory and operational complexity involved in assigning an employee abroad and ensure that the added expense is covered by the applicable budget for the duration of the expected employment. These added costs include but are not limited to accounting and payroll in a foreign country, legal counsel, foreign registrations and taxes, among others.
- Consider necessary foreign work authorization and allow necessary lead time. Applicable unit Human Capital Services liaisons and business officers are responsible for ensuring that appropriate authorizations are secured prior to employment outside of the United States. Human Capital Services cannot process a hire until the proper work authorization is obtained. Consult the Office of General Counsel with questions about foreign work authorizations; please note that often local foreign counsel will need to be engaged, as further described immediately below.
- Consider compliance with foreign employment, tax, and registration laws. Reasonable advance notice — prior to signing any employment-related documents, contracts, and/or prior to assigning duties to occur abroad — is critical. Because foreign laws may apply to international activities, 6-8 weeks may be necessary to receive review by local foreign counsel and complete any registration, authorizations and other requirements. Supervisors should account for this time in planning when appointments and other documents need to be signed and other decisions made.
- Contact Human Capital Services and the Office of General Counsel with any questions, as applicable.
The above-listed supervisors should take these steps for employees and proposed independent contractors. What may appear to be a consulting or independent contractor arrangement by U.S. standards could create an employment relationship in another country, potentially triggering employment, tax, mandatory leaves, termination payouts and other regulatory considerations. Therefore, before engaging an independent contractor who is not presently authorized to receive funds through a subaward to work in a foreign country, local foreign counsel must be consulted. Any questions regarding this process should be directed to K-State’s Office of General Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is each employee’s responsibility to ensure they are aware of, and that their conduct complies with, applicable laws in the foreign country, just as they are responsible for complying with applicable law within the United States.
.080 International Accident and Health Insurance and Travel Health Consultations for Employees and Students Traveling Internationally
The university provides international travelers on university travel with accident and health insurance coverage while traveling abroad, available from the Office of Risk and Compliance. Employees, students, volunteers and guests traveling outside of the United States are covered under a blanket accident and health insurance policy that covers costs that could be incurred while traveling abroad, including emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, a family assistance benefit, a bereavement reunion benefit, a security evacuation benefit, and worldwide travel assistance. Individual travelers or departments are financially responsible for costs that are not covered by the policy.
The university strongly encourages all travelers to participate in a travel consult from Lafene Immunization Clinic or from their primary care physician prior to their departure. This will help travelers avoid the risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable disease in the country that they are visiting. Without proper health preparedness before traveling, the traveler risks becoming ill and having to seek medical care which might be substandard depending upon their location. The university also recognizes that certainly faculty who frequently travel abroad and are familiar with the country or countries that they visit may not need to repeat a travel consult prior to each foreign travel visit.
A travel consult is available at the Lafene Immunization Clinic to assist employees and students who are traveling internationally. Reasonably in advance of traveling, schedule a travel consultation, which will include:
- Individual review of vaccination requirements for the region being visited.
- Travel recommendations for the region based on current health and safety precautions.
- Worksheet completion listing requirements and recommendations.
- Referral to a physician for any medications, health assessment, or needed instruction.
- Available vaccinations, which may be initiated at the time of the initial consult.
Information about health risks and suggested preventative measures is based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State. Appointments should be scheduled well in advance (2-3 months) of the desired travel date because some vaccination requirements may take several months to be completed. This will help ensure that you have the opportunity to receive any vaccinations, anti-malaria treatment (if indicated), medications, and other protective measures in advance to provide adequate protection by your departure date. More information about travel consults is available on Lafene's Travel Clinic website.
Employees and students engaged in university-sponsored international travel and/or traveling with university property are responsible for complying with export control laws and regulations. Export control regulations may restrict or prohibit some travel related activities or destinations, and/or may require licenses for others. The University Research Compliance Office (URCO) can help travelers assess what export control requirements apply to ensure institutional and individual compliance. Advance consultation with URCO — before the proposed international travel and/or activity — helps ensure compliance with export control regulations. When travelers register on the international travel website, they will be required to complete the Export Controls Review Form for international travel. An export control review of the proposed travel is mandatory for all travelers prior to departure,
Any questions on export controls requirements, travel to embargoed countries, travel with equipment and materials, or any other questions can be directed to email@example.com. In certain instances when the projected travel will be to an elevated risk destination or an embargoed or sanctioned destination, URCO will coordinate with the traveler and recommend a pre-travel briefing from the K-State Research and Facility Security Officer.
K-State Information Technology Services (ITS) provides recommendations for employees and students engaged in university-sponsored international travel and/or traveling with university property. Key recommendations include:
- Do not travel with any moderate or high-risk data.
- Use the virtual private network (VPN) when accessing any university systems.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi networks that do not require a login or password.
- Confirm with staff (at your hotel, conference center, host, etc.) the correct name of the network and exact login procedures to ensure that the network is legitimate.
- To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information, never leave equipment — including any USB or external storage devices — unattended in a public place.
- Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes and in your hotel room. Also be aware that government officials and hotel staff will likely have access to the safe in your hotel room.
- If you travel with a mobile phone, do not use the public charging kiosks; the connecting cable may open access to whatever you have stored on the phone.
IT Loaner Laptop Program
Traveling with a loaner laptop reduces the risk of data and identity theft and is critical to protecting university property. The university's Division of Information Technology has 10 laptops available to be checked out by employees engaged in university-sponsored international travel to high-risk countries. More information about that program can be found at the IT equipment checkout website. The loaner laptop program is free to employees, but the unit of the employee, or the employee borrowing the laptop, as applicable, will be responsible for replacement costs due to damage, loss or theft. IT is not responsible for any lost data.
Generally, state ethics rules govern what state employees can receive, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is more focused on what can be given to foreign officials — who are quite broadly defined, to include such individuals as faculty members at public universities abroad. Employees traveling abroad must be familiar with these rules.
Accepting or requesting gifts, meals, entertainment and travel offered because of your official position is generally prohibited, with several very limited exceptions. The State Governmental Ethics Commission’s guidelines have different rules for each of those categories. All State of Kansas employees are subject to these rules, and violations can result in a civil fine of up to $5,000 and/or removal from state service. You must be familiar with the rules, know where to find answers, and adopt a practice of asking questions when in doubt. Compliance with these ethics rules are personal obligations and subject to fines and criminal penalties against the individual.
The FCPA prohibits the university and its employees (among others) from paying, authorizing, or promising to pay money or anything of value to a foreign official to influence the foreign official or to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Foreign officials include an expansive group of people. Notably, foreign officials include employees and agents of government-owned and government-controlled universities and businesses, such as faculty, administrators and other employees (and their family members) at counterpart public universities around the globe.
There is no exception to the FCPA simply because the meal, entertainment, gift or other payment is small; rather, the focus of the FCPA remains on the purpose of the payment.
Any plans to provide gifts, travel, meals or entertainment to any foreign official should be scrutinized closely for FCPA compliance by the employee and the employee’s supervisor. If the person to whom the payment or anything of value is going to is assisting you or the university in conducting or retaining business or other benefits (such as in association with a university contract) or relieving you or the university from a legal requirement, you should consult with the Assistant Vice President for Risk and Compliance and the Office of General Counsel prior to making any payment or gift, regardless of size. You can read more about the FCPA from the Department of Justice’s resource guide. See the Office of General Counsel's website for more information about accepting gifts.
Any business, research or other similar services received by or provided to the university (or its employees) while in country should be documented within a university contract prior to traveling. Requirements for university contracts are in PPM Chapter 3070, and time for review of international activities contracts generally is more extensive due to necessary coordination with local foreign counsel.
The charge of the International Risk Advisory Working Group (IRAWG) is to review and assess risk of international programs and activities and to develop, implement and evaluate risk control strategies to manage international risk. This includes periodic review of this policy and other related recommended input. The IRAWG’s input will be aimed at preserving academic freedom and the university's robust research agenda, while considering risks and protecting the safety of the university's students and employees.
Employees and students are responsible for completing any required training prior to departure. Such training could include, but is not limited to, responsible conduct of research, IACUC, IRB, and/or IBC training, export controls, anti-discrimination/anti-harassment, FCPA, political activity, and state ethics. Employees shall consult with the University Research Compliance Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for training requirements related to research and export controls prior to travel. Other training questions can be directed to Human Capital Services at email@example.com.
K-State Travel Website
University Handbook Appendix S: Kansas State University Policy on Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Time Commitment, Consulting and other Employment
University Research compliance Office Export Controls Compliance Program
Department of State Travel Website
Centers for Disease Control Travel Website
Lafene Health Center Travel Clinic
Guidelines for State Employees Concerning Meals, Gifts, Entertainment, and Travel
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Guide
Please contact the IRAWG at IRAWG@ksu.edu for any questions on this Policy.