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International Involvement Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

Foreign Applications and Domestic Applications With Foreign Components

Foreign Workers and NIH Grants

Foreign Applications and Domestic Applications With Foreign Components

Where can I find information for international grantees and applicants?

Check the International Awards section of the NIAID Research Funding site for resources, funding, and contact information. Also see the following:

Can foreign applicants succeed in obtaining an NIH grant?

Yes. Foreign applicants can and do succeed in obtaining an NIH grant. Applications are peer reviewed using the same review criteria as domestic applications. For additional criteria in the review process, see Chapter 16.3: Application Review in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. For more information, see Foreign Applications Have an Extra Review Step in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Do foreign organizations have additional registration steps for electronic applications?

Yes. Foreign organizations must obtain a NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) code.

All organizations need to get a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) and then complete a one-time registration for Grants.gov and the NIH eRA Commons. The authorized organizational representative (AOR) should complete these registrations. Foreign organizations are not required to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

All registration information and addresses must be identical for NCAGE, Grants.gov, SAM, the NIH eRA Commons, and the Payment Management System (PMS).

For detailed instructions, see the Grants.gov Registration Instructions for Domestic and Foreign Organizations.

As a principal investigator, may I register my organization for a DUNS number or other accounts?

No, not as a principal investigator. Your institutional business official should register for a DUNS number and other accounts such as the eRA Commons.

If your organization makes you the institutional business official, you may register your organization.

Learn more about registration above at Do foreign organizations have additional registration steps for electronic applications?

Are international organizations required to hold a DUNS and register in Grants.gov?

Yes. See the instructions at Do foreign organizations have additional registration steps for electronic applications?

Can I register my organization in the eRA Commons in my native language?

Unfortunately, no; our policies require applicant organizations to:

  • Register in English.
  • Use an English translation of their organization's name for the registration.

If I'm applying from a foreign institution, do I need to indicate this on the application?

Yes. All applications have a checkbox for foreign institutions and domestic institutions with a foreign component. For more information, see the Applicants section of the Foreign and International Grants and Components SOP.

Are foreign companies eligible for small business awards?

No. To be eligible for a small business award, a company must be majority owned by U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and conduct all the research funded by the grant in the U.S. This condition makes subsidiaries of foreign companies ineligible unless they are majority owned by U.S. citizens.

For more information on small business awards, see How to Apply and Small Business Awards Questions and Answers.

What is different about the review of foreign applications?

In addition to standard review criteria, peer reviewers look for additional information in foreign applications, such as whether they can provide expertise or resources that can't be found in the U.S. For further details, read Foreign Applications Have an Extra Review Step in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

For second-level review, NIAID must present foreign applications as special issues to our advisory Council. See the Special Issues Requiring Council Review SOP for more information.

Who can and cannot work with sensitive materials?

For a list of restricted persons, see the Foreign Workers on NIH Awards SOP.

Do foreign applications involving select agents have a special review and approval process?

Yes. Read the Select Agent Awards SOP for an overview. For a more detailed look, go to the NIAID Select Agent Research Review and Approval Procedure for New and Continuing Grants That Include Foreign Institutions and NIAID Select Agent Policy for Foreign Institutions Questions and Answers.

For human subjects, are there requirements for foreign grantees, foreign subawardees, or domestic grantees with foreign research sites?

Yes. All foreign grantees must get a Federalwide Assurance (FWA) and approval from the institutional review board (IRB) or institutional biosafety committee (IBC). Learn more in the IRB, IEC, and FWA Requirements for International Research section of the NIAID Human Subjects Application and Grant Handbook.

You may also have regulatory requirements from the country where you conduct your research, as explained in Investigating Foreign Populations of the NIAID Human Subjects Application and Grant Handbook.

For research animals, are there requirements for foreign grantees and subawardees?

Yes. All grantees get an Animal Welfare Assurance from the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. Read more in the following sections of How to Write an Application Involving Research Animals:

Are foreign institutions eligible to receive money for alterations and renovations (A&R)?

It depends on the amount.

  • Minor A&R (less than $500,000) may be allowable for foreign grants and domestic grants with foreign components. Include a justification as part of the competitive application. Rebudgeting for A&R for active grants requires prior approval from NIH.
  • Major A&R (over $500,000) is not allowable under foreign grants and domestic grants with foreign components.

See 16.6: Allowable and Unallowable Costs in the Grants Policy Statement for more information.

Learn about grants management in the Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators.

May a foreign institution use facilities and administrative (F&A) costs to pay for alterations and renovations?

No. We pay for alterations and renovations as direct costs, not F&A costs—regardless of whether an institution is foreign or domestic. For questions about spending on your grant, please contact your grants management specialist.

Learn about grants management in the Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators.

Are there budget requirements for applications from foreign institutions?

Yes. Foreign applicants must submit a detailed budget and may request a facilities and administrative costs (F&A) rate of up to 8 percent. Read more in Part 6. Receiving and Spending Money of the Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators.

Is the salary scale for foreign applicants different from that of U.S. applicants, and if so, how is it determined?

Salary and wages charged to NIH grants should be consistent with the organization's established policies and practices, regardless of whether the applicant is from a domestic or foreign institution. See our advice under Direct Costs, Personnel of our Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators. Also see the next question.

Does NIH have a salary cap limit for foreign PIs?

Yes. NIH has salary limits, called a salary cap. Check PI Salary Cap and Stipends or your business office for the latest figure for the current year.

For further details on caps, go to our Salaries and Stipends Questions and Answers.

Can NIH funding support a foreign postdoctoral fellow?

Foreign postdoctoral fellows may work on NIH-funded research grants except fellowships or training grants.

If I relocate to another country, can I take my NIH funding with me?

Possibly, though the approval process is complex. First, contact your institution, which must be willing to relinquish your grant to a new institution. This move can be complicated, and NIAID is not involved with that decision or any negotiations related to it.

If your institution approves the move, submit a prior approval request to your grants management specialist. A request to change your institution to another foreign country requires approval by NIAID's advisory Council. Follow the instructions here:

If I relocate to a new country, can I take NIH-funded equipment with me?

Yes. If your organization agrees, you may take the equipment to a new site. Your organization needs to submit an Official Statement Relinquishing Interests and Rights in a Public Health Service Grant form (PHS 3734). Grants management and program staff will review the form, then send it to the NIAID Advisory Council for approval.

Can I include a foreign collaborator on an NIH application?

NIH allows awards to foreign investigators and collaborators. Determine the collaborator's role based on the needs of the science.

If you're considering a multiple PI application that would include foreign investigators, we strongly suggest you get planning advice from an NIH program officer. Use NIAID's When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer in your science area.

You can read more at Design a Project in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How does an international grantee receive funds?

All foreign grantees receive funds through the Payment Management System. For additional considerations for foreign grantees, see the following:

Foreign Workers and NIH Grants

Where can I learn about working on a grant as a non-U.S. citizen?

The Foreign Workers on NIH Awards SOP has information for non-U.S. citizens.

Do I need U.S. affiliation or citizenship to be a grantee or PI?

No. You don't need U.S. affiliation or citizenship to become a grantee or principal investigator (PI) for most award types. Find out more at Requirements for Foreign Investigators, Projects, and Institutions in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Do I need U.S. affiliation or citizenship to be a trainee on a training grant or receive a career award or fellowship?

Yes, with one exception: the K99/R00. For all other career development awards and training grants, you must be a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen national, or a permanent resident with a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (a "green card") at the time of award.

For more information, check our Advice on Research Training and Career Awards.

Does visa status affect my ability to work on an NIH grant?

Read the Foreign Workers on NIH Awards SOP for more information.

Are H-1B visa holders eligible to apply for R01s and R03s, or is it necessary to have a residency card?

Investigators who have an H-1B visa are eligible, but it must allow them to stay in the U.S. long enough to complete their projects. The sponsoring applicant institution is responsible for ensuring that the PI has an appropriate visa.

For more information, see the Foreign Workers on NIH Awards SOP as well as Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

What if my question wasn't answered here, or I'd like to suggest a question?

Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. We answer questions by email and post them here. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.

Last Updated January 23, 2015

Last Reviewed January 23, 2015