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Honorarium Payments


An Honorarium is a payment to an individual for a presentation-oriented, guest lecture or invitational event (“usual academic activities”), which include lecturing, teaching, and sharing knowledge of performance (when audience composed on non-paying students and/or is open to the public free of charge).

  • If the individual is a Foreign National (FN), make sure that the FN has the appropriate visa that allows such a payment

Honorarium Rule (“9/5/6 Rule”)

Foreign nationals in B-1, B-2, H1-B, Visa Waiver Program (WB and WT) status may accept an honorarium and/or reimbursement of travel expenses under the following conditions:

  • For “usual academic activity or activities”
  • Nine (9) days or less at any single institution
  • The individual has accepted such payment from no more than five (5) institutions
  • In the previous six (6) month period

Who is Eligible to Receive Honorarium Payments?

  • B-1 or B-2 visa holders
  • VWB or VWT: cannot enter the U.S. on B-2 or VWT for the activity, only if already in the U.S.
  • J-1 Scholars for occasional lecture if permitted by sponsoring institution
  • H-1B, E-3, TN, and O-1 visa holders ONLY if sponsored by host institution. These individuals can only receive reimbursement for travel or incidental expenses. Payment would need to run through visa petitioner.


  • Honorarium paid to FN is subject to 30% withholding, unless person can claim a tax treaty benefit. Travel reimbursement is not subject to withholding as it is not income. A FN should obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for payment purposes (complete IRS W-7). Without an ITIN, a treaty benefit cannot be claimed. 
  • What is an ITIN?

Letter of Invitation from Host Institution

  • Letter of invitation must be sent to each invited FN who will receive payment for services/expenses, and should contain:
  • Detailed description of event
  • Date of event
  • Amount of any payment to be made
  • Whether travel and/or incidental expenses will be reimbursed
  • Contact information for the host institution

For any tax questions, including those regarding your ITIN, please visit the following IRS website.