Immigration Fees

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows often join faculty investigators in conducting sponsored research projects. This page addresses the proper use of any researchers from a foreign country on certain federally sponsored projects.

As of February 2012 only National Institutes of Health (NIH) allows direct cost as part of recruiting costs on federal grants.

Please see the National Institutes of Health Grants Policy Statement:

  • "Allowable direct cost as part of recruiting costs on an NIH grant, as long as the institution has an employee/employer relationship with the individual. It is the responsibility of the institution to monitor the status of the individual's visa and ensure they have sufficient time to fulfill the obligations of the research they are being paid for on the grant. However, if the person is already an employee and the cost in question is a visa renewal then this isn't a recruiting cost so the cost would not be an allowable charge to a grant. Expedited processing fees are generally unallowable unless and until they become part of standard processing fees. Fraud fees are allowable if they are required fees. Department of Homeland Security SEVIS Form I-901 is a required fee and is allowable. See also Recruitment Costs in this exhibit."

Please provide documentation to support that the visa is a recruiting expense, i.e., is an initial rather than a renewal application.

For other federal agencies, the determination of allowability is still pending. In the meantime, please charge a non-sponsored chart string.

H-1B Categories

New Recruitment

  1. New/Initial: This involves a new recruitment of a researcher directly from a foreign country where the H-1B beneficiary would apply for a visa and enter the U.S. to perform his/her duties under the specialty occupation.
  2. Change of Status within the U.S. from one nonimmigrant category to H-1B: This is also considered new recruitment, provided the H-1B beneficiary is not an active employee of Northwestern in an F-1 OPT, J-1, O-1, TN or E-3 category.
  3. Change of Employer: This particular H-1B applies to foreign nationals who transfer from one academic institution or a company to Northwestern and can be considered as new recruitment for the purpose of charging fees to NIH/NSF grants.
  4. Amended Petition: If the H-1B is recruited by a new department within Northwestern.

The following H categories cannot be considered as new recruitment:

  1. An extension/renewal of a current H-1B.
  2. An amended petition, where the H-1B has either changed positions within the existing department or is a beneficiary of a promotion within the same department/center/institute.
  3. Change of status: where the beneficiary holds a current position at Northwestern in another nonimmigrant category and wishes to change status to H-1B.


New Recruitment

  1. New/Initial: This involves a researcher or visiting faculty with an appointment is coming directly from his/her country of residence outside the U.S.
  2. Change of Status: This is considered new recruitment, provided the individual is not a current employee of Northwestern in another nonimmigrant category (such as H, O, TN, E, and F-1OPT).
  3. Transfer: If the J foreign national transfers from another institution, it may be considered as a new recruitment.

The following categories cannot be considered as new recruitment:

  1. An extension of a current J-1.
  2. An amended petition as a result of a change in program objectives.
  3. Change of Status: where the individual holds a current position at Northwestern under another nonimmigrant category and wishes to change to a J-1 status.

The same guidelines apply to O-1, E-3 (visa set-aside for Australian nationals) and TN (NAFTA Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico).

For additional information please visit: Northwestern International Office