NIH Visiting Program: Requirements

Visas and Language
Taxes
Vacations & Sick Leave
Health Insurance
Compensation for Injury
Outside Work

Visas and Language

Visiting Program participants who are foreign nationals must have a visa that permits training or employment in the United States. Most foreign nationals in the program have one of the following nonimmigrant visas:

  • J-1 (Exchange Visitor)
  • F-1 (student - for post-completion practical training after award of doctoral degree)
  • H-1B (nonimmigrant worker in a specialty occupation)
  • O-1 (extraordinary ability in the sciences)
Visiting Fellows are ineligible for H-1B or O-1 visas.

Under the NIH's Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 visa -- Research Scholar category), any clinical responsibilities are limited to incidental patient contact, and credit for medical specialty board certification is not available. To have full patient contact and/or obtain board certification, foreign scientists at NIH must conduct their research under a J-1 visa sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) in those programs at NIH that meet graduate medical education or training accreditation standards.

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Language

All Visiting Program participants must be proficient in the use and understanding of spoken and written English.

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Taxes

All Visiting Program participants must pay U.S. income taxes, unless they are exempted by an income tax treaty between the United States and their country of residence (for tax purposes). Although the tax assessment differs according to stipend/salary level (higher levels are taxed at higher rates), Visiting Program participants can expect to pay at least 20 percent of their stipend/salary in federal income tax. (Those that are exempt due to a tax treaty may have to pay taxes to their home country, depending on the country/treaty). All participants, including those exempted from federal tax, must pay state income taxes, depending on their state of residence. Individuals holding an H-1B or O-1 visa also must pay Social Security tax. Employees who hold J-1 status will begin to pay Social Security tax at the start of their third calendar year in the U.S.

Before leaving the United States, all foreign nationals must fulfill their tax obligations. After returning to their home country, they must file a final U.S. tax return by April 15 of the year following the year they received a stipend/salary in the United States.

Further details concerning taxes will be provided upon the Visiting Program participant's arrival.

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Vacation & Sick Leave

Visiting Fellows may be granted excused absence at the discretion of their sponsors, except during the final two weeks of the award period. In addition to federal holidays, Visiting Scientists receive 13 working days of annual (holiday) leave and 13 working days of sick leave each year.

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Health Insurance

All Visiting Program participants must have some form of health insurance; J-1 visa holders (and accompanying dependents) are required by regulation to be covered by health insurance, including medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. The NIH pays for basic coverage for Visiting Fellows and dependents who accompany them.

Visiting Scientists may join one of the health plans available at the NIH under the Federal Government's health benefit plans if their initial appointment is for longer than 12 months. They pay part of the cost, although the actual amount will depend on the plan selected. Visiting Scientists on a J-1 visa must purchase a separate policy for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. Those on an initial appointment of 12 months or less are responsible for making their own health insurance arrangements and paying the full cost involved.

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Compensation for Injury

Visiting Scientists are eligible for free medical care and disability payments for any work-related illness or injury received while working for the NIH. Because Visiting Fellows receive research training under the supervision of NIH employees they are also covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

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Outside Work

NIH Visiting Program participants who wish to engage in outside work must obtain specific approval from the Institute Scientific Director and the Deputy Director for Intramural Research, Office of the Director, NIH. The outside activity is also subject to Federal Government Standards of Conduct and to Department of Homeland Security regulations and visa restrictions.

 

Division of International Services
Office of Research Services
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B2B07
Bethesda, MD 20892-2028
Tel: (301) 496-6166
Fax: (301) 496-0847
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