International Travel and Collaboration

Guidance on hosting foreign visitors or traveling internationally for Penn research.

Guidelines and Processes

Hosting International Visitors

It is Penn’s intent to host international visitors in the most welcoming way possible while also complying with laws and regulations governing export of certain items and technical data. Export control regulations govern laboratory instruments, equipment, materials, software, technology, and technical data that can be transferred out of the country by any means. This includes the release or disclosure by visual inspections by foreign nationals present at our laboratories for whom certain export restrictions apply; such export is deemed to occur when the foreign national returns to his/her home country. While most activities and communications will fall under the fundamental research exclusion, some may trigger export licensing requirements.  

All non-U.S. persons should be screened against the specially designated and restricted parties lists; depending on the level of laboratory access and purpose of the visit, it may be necessary to restrict such persons from export-controlled equipment and data.  

For questions concerning the visa process for hosting international students and scholars, please consult Penn’s International Student & Scholar Services, and visit https://global.upenn.edu/isss/immigration.

Restricted Party Screening

Screening international institutions, collaborators, and visitors for prohibited and/or restricted parties is an important part of Penn’s export compliance program and helps Penn manage reputational risk. U.S. government agencies maintain lists of individuals and entities, both in the United States and abroad, that have committed export violations or other offenses. Financial dealings and other transactions with, or providing a service to, such restricted parties are prohibited without a license or other approval from the applicable government agency. 

Penn has systems in place to ensure that restricted party screening (RPS) occurs for certain international transactions and activities, such as the Research Inventory System (RIS) and eShip@Penn®.

Penn does not have an automated system in place for screening:

  • International Students and Scholars
  • Other international visitors (e.g., visitors touring Penn research labs or facilities)
  • International collaborators or activities not managed through Penn systems

Screening the individuals and institutions before an official invitation is offered, or the activity takes place, can help identify any issues of concern.

  • International students and scholars and their home institutions should be screened before beginning the visa application process or entering into any agreement with the home institution. 
  • Other international visitors and their home institution should be screened well in advance of travel to Penn and before providing access to labs or facilities. 
  • International collaborators or activities not captured in RIS should be screened before beginning your collaboration and well in advance of any travel. 

Penn utilizes Visual Compliance for restricted party screening. Anyone with a upenn.edu email address can register by contacting expctrl@lists.upenn.edu. You can access Visual Compliance training via Knowledge Link.

Being on a restricted party list does not necessarily mean an individual can’t participate in activities at or with Penn, but it does mean that we should take a closer look at the reason for the inclusion on a list, the activities/research the individual is expected to perform, and whether or not Penn is able and willing to comply with any restrictions such participation would entail.

Lab and Facility Tours

Before the visit, work with the Export Compliance Office to: 

  • Screen all non-U.S. persons against the specially designated and restricted parties lists.
  • Review the proposed activities, determine if access or exposure to controlled items is required, and determine if a license is required.
  • Identify export-controlled equipment, data, or technology and implement a technology control plan (if necessary) to appropriately secure them from access by unlicensed, non-U.S. persons.
  • Alert your colleagues to the upcoming visit so they are aware of any potential issues involving controlled items.

If you are uncertain about any of the requirements, need help developing a technology control plan, or think you may need to apply for an export license, please contact expctrl@lists.upenn.edu or 215-573-8817 for assistance.

International Travel with Penn-Owned Equipment

When traveling out of the country, everything you take is considered an export and therefore subject to U.S. export control regulation. It is important to ensure that Penn-owned equipment, such as laptops, iPads, smartphones, software, and other devices, are compliant with U.S. export control regulations. In many (but not all!) cases, these items can be temporarily exported under a tools-of-the-trade (TMP) license exception. (NOTE: Personal items and devices generally fall under a separate license exception, BAG.)

The TMP license exception may apply when the item is:

  • used for professional purposes
  • returned within 12 months
  • kept under effective control of the user while abroad (e.g., in a hotel safe or other secured space when not in use)

In general, if all of the following apply, you may qualify for a TMP license:

  • The travel is not to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or the Crimea Region of the Ukraine. For Cuba, a different license exception, SCP, may be available; see Sanctioned and Embargoed Countries for guidance on Iran- and Cuba-related travel.
  • The laptops and other computing and data storage devices are standard, off-the-shelf products that are widely available
  • The operating system and any encryption capabilities are of the kind that are preloaded on the computers and do not allow for user revisions to enhance communications security capabilities
  • The application programs are general, commercially available software that either do not perform technical analyses or are commercially available general purpose scientific or engineering programs
  • The data stored on the computers or storage devices are publicly available (e.g., published in journals or on the web). Data and analyses from research intended to be published that are not restricted by contract from general dissemination can be treated as publicly available
  • You have no reason to believe that there are export constraints on any of the equipment, software, data, or information that would apply to your intended travel

NOTE: You should not take any of the following without first obtaining specific advice of the Export Compliance Office as these items may require an export license: 

  • Data or information received under an obligation of confidentiality.
  • Computer software with restrictions on export to or access by foreign nationals.
  • Devices or equipment with restrictions on export to or access by foreign nationals.
  • Devices, systems, or software that was specifically designed or modified for military or space applications.

Contact Penn ORS

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