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Global Employment and Hiring

Engaging Personnel for University Activities Outside the U.S.

Employment or disbursement of payroll by the University is not permitted for individuals residing outside the United States. This includes U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. The following options are alternatives to employment of foreign individuals as University personnel for UNC activities, research, and teaching outside the U.S.

You can also view or print this information as a comparison chart.

Employees spending more than half their time (183 or more days in a 12-month period) in the United States are generally considered U.S.-based and can, therefore, be engaged using established hiring, employment, and payroll practices and policies governed and operated by UNC-Chapel Hill and the State of North Carolina. This method avoids many of the operational complications and risks associated with foreign employment. This option is only viable when an employee’s permanent presence abroad is not required, and the employee has a U.S. bank account for payroll disbursement.

As with all U.S.-based employees, a background check is required for new and rehired employees who will be working internationally to confirm if the employee has any history of criminal convictions in the United States. Additionally, employees who will be working in the United States for any amount of time must complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, prior to beginning any work for pay in the United States. For more information on U.S.-based employment and international activities, contact your department’s HR representatives in conjunction with the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Human Resources (OHR).

Temporary and permanent SHRA and EHRA NF employees can submit a teleworking request to OHR via ConnectCarolina. Please see the OHR Flexible Work Arrangements webpage.

To work in a foreign country and avoid direct UNC-Chapel Hill employment, an individual can be employed (or seconded) through a partner institution or organization that can manage the hiring, employment, and payroll operations for the employee. Employment through this channel ensures compliance with foreign laws and mitigates the operational risks of direct UNC-Chapel Hill employment activities overseas (e.g., tax obligations, permanent establishment).

This option requires a collaborative partnership with a foreign institution, such as a university partner or non-profit organization that, in most cases, must be identified as a subawardee of sponsored research funds or other grants. A partner institution may also be willing to manage personnel operations at their own expense, but it must be within the scope of work of the associated project or activity. For further information, contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at GlobalAffairs@unc.edu, or Office of Sponsored Research leadership at resadminosr@unc.edu. See also the Office of Sponsored Research policy on Outgoing Subrecipient Agreements and Guide to Subrecipients vs Vendors.

If U.S.-based employment and partnering with a foreign institution are not viable options, an employee can be contracted through a Professional Employment Organization (PEO), which will manage hiring, employment, and payroll operations in the foreign country. This method ensures compliance with foreign laws and mitigates the operational risks of direct UNC-Chapel Hill employment activities overseas (e.g. tax obligations, permanent establishment). Unlike other employment options, there are additional costs, sometimes significant, for engaging the services of the PEO, which must be funded by the relevant department (depending on the funder, some PEO costs might also be covered by grants).

UNC-Chapel Hill’s preferred PEO provider is Global Upside. Global Upside is a full-service company with 21 years of experience and 24/7 support in 150+ countries. Since Global Upside has a Master Service Agreement with UNC-Chapel Hill, units can engage Global Upside directly to make inquiries, finalize individual contracts, and process monthly payroll payments. UNC’s single point of contact at Global Upside is Shane Jacobs at shane.jacobs@globalupside.com or 480-740-2204.

Depending on factors such as cost, range of services, and country of operation, units may engage with other PEO providers at their discretion in accordance with Purchasing Services and other applicable policies.

Foreign individuals can be engaged as an independent contractor (IC) in some circumstances. This allows the department to create a relationship with and compensate an individual who is working abroad. Engagement with ICs must be for less than one year and for a pre-determined purpose and payment amount. ICs must meet eligibility requirements, be entered into the UNC vendor system, and are subject to UNC IC policies and procedures. Foreign IC requests and questions should be sent to IC_Review@unc.edu and should follow the appropriate policies, procedures and regulations on the IC Management website.

Service and Non-Service Appointments for Graduate Students Outside the U.S.

Pursuant to a policy adopted by the Provost’s Office, graduate students must be physically present in the U.S. before the start of the semester in order to be paid (service and non-service appointments) by the University.

The Graduate School manages a process for requesting an exception to the University’s policy that graduate students must be physically present in the U.S. before the start of the semester in order to be paid (service and non-service appointments) by the University. This decision tree provides various process details according to the circumstances of the request.

Departments or schools should submit this form to seek an exception to this policy.

Please note that neither your department nor the University can be completely shielded from liability unless the student engagement is managed by a local third party (which would be responsible for complying with various local tax and HR obligations). Although the exception process is designed to minimize such risks to the University and to the department, those risks cannot be completely eliminated. Tax and labor authorities in foreign countries are not consistent in their enforcement of such laws. Therefore, the University requires the use of a Professional Employment Organization (PEO) for any approved service appointments outside the U.S. (payments for non-service appointments can be processed through GradStar and transmitted via Flywire; contact Beverly Wyrick, Director of Finance & Operations at The Graduate School for more information).

Using a PEO to help manage engaging a student abroad while ensuring compliance with local tax and HR obligations will likely double the costs of engaging the graduate student in a service appointment. These costs will be borne by the requesting unit if the exception request is approved.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s preferred PEO provider is Global Upside. Global Upside is a full-service company with 21 years of experience and 24/7 support in 150+ countries. Since Global Upside has a Master Service Agreement with UNC-Chapel Hill, units can engage Global Upside directly to make inquiries, finalize individual contracts, and process monthly payroll payments. UNC’s single point of contact at Global Upside is Shane Jacobs at shane.jacobs@globalupside.com or 480-740-2204.

Units should not initiate a PEO arrangement until an exception for an international appointment is approved.

Contact

For additional information, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at GlobalAffairs@unc.edu.