Some international activities require faculty and/or staff to be located permanently or for extended periods in the country of operation. These may be:
- employees relocating from their current position in Ithaca
- individuals (citizens of the host country or not) who are recruited specifically for this activity overseas
- short-term consultants, lecturers, data collectors, and others
Regardless of the duration of the assignment, work performed overseas can present a range of legal, financial, safety, and logistical considerations that create complications and could add expenses. Consideration also must be given to whether the arrangement could trigger corporate registration or licensing requirements that may result in additional financial or regulatory obligations in the host country. Poor planning can result in immigration issues, tax penalties, and other avoidable costs.
Although Cornell does not directly employ individuals abroad, a variety of options are available to meet the needs of your project and budget and the people you’re seeking to hire. It’s important to consider your staffing needs early because the options available to you may require substantial lead time.
Human Resources, the Office of University Counsel, and other stakeholders serve as advisors on all employment matters and should be consulted by completing this form prior to any decision-making. Providing us with as much notice as possible will assist with efforts to conduct country-specific employment and labor-related research.
What you can you do now? Start by:
- Considering the key differences in overseas staffing
- Summarizing your project and candidate information
- Evaluating the most common overseas work options
Three Key International Staffing Considerations
In addition to universal staffing considerations like salary, job responsibilities and management structure, you also need to consider the immigration, tax, and employment laws of the host country. Since the regular Cornell payroll is not set up to account for these host country differences, the university cannot directly employ those working in foreign locations.
- Immigration: Individuals must have the correct immigration status and permission to work in the country where they’re physically working. For non-local nationals, this usually involves a work permit sponsored by an employer in the host country.
- Taxes: Like the U.S., most countries collect employee-owed taxes as well as employer-owed taxes (also known as “social costs” or “payroll taxes”). Globally, employment taxes account for an average 20 percent of an employee's annual salary. Laws vary by country regarding an employer’s responsibility to withhold and remit taxes owed by the employee. Contact the Tax Office through this form regarding regulations such as income tax obligations, reporting and withholding, Social Security taxes, and foreign tax credits.
- Employment laws: Most countries have employment laws that are more favorable to employees than U.S. laws. Examples include mandated employment contract terms, paid time off, limitations on termination, and severance payments.
Outlining Your Project Needs
The options available to you will depend on the host country, the length of your project, the individuals you seek to hire, and your funding source. To help identify a viable staffing option, you’ll need to gather as much information as possible about the work to be done and the candidate(s) you seek.
About the work:
- Job description or statement of work
- Location of work, if known
- Anticipated start date, duration, and likelihood of extension
- Compensation or value of contract
- Work schedule, in particular full-time equivalency (e.g., full-time versus part-time)
- Funding source (e.g., federal grant, non-federal grant, unrestricted, etc.)
- Benefits offered in addition to compensation, if applicable
About the candidate, if known:
- Immigration status for host country
- Prior and current relationship to Cornell, if any
- Whether the individual provides these services to other clients besides Cornell
- Whether the individual has other primary employment (not at Cornell)
Please send this information to our team for guidance.
Staffing Options for Activities in Foreign Countries
Cornell programs typically use one of six staffing options outlined in the “Staffing Options for Activities in Foreign Countries” document (link at the bottom of this article).
Feel free to Ask Our Team a Question and we’ll address any questions and concerns and help you determine which option is best for your project.