Unauthorized Employment of Aliens

Until November 6, 1986, only the alien was in violation of the law when illegally employed. With the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the employer became subject to fines of up to $10,000 and criminal penalties for employing aliens who are not authorized to work. Employers must verify the identity and work status of each new employee and complete Form I-9 testifying under penalty of perjury that the employee’s identity and work authorization have been verified by the examination of documents. The university has initiated strict procedures to make sure that everyone put on the payroll is legally authorized to work. Together with the severe penalties that aliens themselves pay if they work illegally, this system makes it illegal for the university to employ aliens who are not in the appropriate status. Departments need to be very careful in determining whether it is feasible to obtain proper immigration status for a prospective international scholar within the time frame available. Departments must prepare documents for immigration applications early and carefully, and take into consideration the vagaries of the immigration regulations in planning for staffing positions. We urge departments to consult ISSS early in any negotiations with international scholars to fill temporary or permanent positions.

Honorarium Payments

The U.S. Congress passed legislation in October 1998 to allow the payment of expenses and honoraria to visiting scholars in “B” or visa waiver status,* as long as that arrangement is for a single event or short series of events (master class/lecture/demonstration) and is limited to nine days and not more than five other payments from other institutions in the past six months.

In order to enter on the Visa Waiver Program, participants must now have machine-readable passports. If the participant does not have a machine-readable passport, they will need to apply for a B visa from the American embassy before they come to the United States.

Check with the International Tax Office for further information about payment and tax implications if you have a visitor coming on the B or Visa Waiver Program. Call 303-735-5534 for more information.

Social Security Numbers

All visiting scholars who will be on the university’s payroll must have a Social Security number. Scholars can apply for a Social Security number at the Social Security office, located at 4949 Pearl Street, Suite 101. Since a visiting scholar must have such a number to get on the payroll, there may be a delay in the start of your visitor’s work. The Social Security office in Boulder suggests that the scholar wait at least 10–15 days after arrival in the United States before applying for a number. In order to be issued a number, the scholar must present his or her passport and immigration documents to the Social Security Administration officials, in addition to another form of photo identification. It usually takes about 10 days to 6 weeks to get a Social Security number. Scholars should make sure they bring enough money to cover their initial expenses while waiting for a Social Security number to be issued and to be put on payroll.


U.S. immigration laws are very complex. The information contained in these pages is designed specifically for scholars and the departments at the University of Colorado Boulder; other individuals should seek assistance from immigration specialists. Immigration laws are constantly changing, and even though we will attempt to keep these files up to date, we cannot guarantee their completeness or accuracy. The information contained herein is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship, nor can it be construed as legal advice. Please meet with an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services before making applications or seeking benefits.