Short-term, travel visa costs are expenses that are allowable as a direct cost as part of recruiting costs. Visa costs must be reasonable, allowable under the applicable cost principles, and treated in a consistent manner regardless of funding sources. If an employee’s effort is allocated to multiple projects, allowable visa costs for the employee must be distributed to those projects in proportion to the effort.

Generally Allowable Costs

Visa application fees for a researcher being recruited, whose skills are deemed critical and necessary for the conduct of the project. There are five types of temporary non-immigrant visas that are used to bring a researcher to the U.S. for a specific period and purpose:

  • J-1 Exchange Visitor
  • H-1B Temporary Worker – Specialty Occupation
  • TN temporary Worker – Trade NAFTA
  • E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
  • O-1 Extraordinary Ability

Generally Unallowable Costs

The following fees are considered unallowable to a Federal award:

  • Premium processing fees (e.g. Expedited or overnight fees, etc.)
  • Renewal application fees
  • Application fees for changes in visa type
  • Dependent application/processing fees

If the employee resigns within 12 months of recruitment, for reasons within the employee’s control, the associated relocation costs, including any visa costs, must be refunded or credited to the sponsor.

Excerpts from UG

§200.463 Recruiting Costs

(c) Where relocation costs incurred incident to recruitment of a new employee have been funded in whole or in part to a Federal award, and the newly hired employee resigns for reasons within the employee's control within 12 months after hire, the non-Federal entity will be required to refund or credit the Federal share of such relocation costs to the Federal Government.

(d) Short-term, travel visa costs (as opposed to longer-term, immigration visas) are generally allowable expenses that may be proposed as a direct cost. Since short-term visas are issued for a specific period and purpose, they can be clearly identified as directly connected to work performed on a Federal award. For these costs to be directly charged to a Federal award, they must:

(1)  Be critical and necessary for the conduct of the project;

(2)  Be allowable under the applicable cost principles;

(3)  Be consistent with the non-Federal entity's cost accounting practices and non-Federal entity policy; and

(4)  Meet the definition of “direct cost” as described in the applicable cost principles.