Frequently Asked Questions

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Sponsored Programs Administration can help campus researchers find information related to improper foreign influence. See below for FAQs, or feel free to contact us at exportcontrols@illinois.edu.

Should I make disclosures related to the work of foreign national graduate students or postdoctoral scholars?

In most cases, there is no reason to disclose participation of foreign students or postdocs on sponsored research, especially if all such work will be performed in the U.S. The University of Illinois’ Nondiscrimination Policy states that the university does not discriminate on the basis of citizenship. UIUC, therefore, generally does not accept public and private sponsors’ restrictions of research based on citizenship.

However, there may be cases where working with a student or postdoc might be considered a “foreign component” (e.g., if that student or postdoc is performing effort in a foreign country). NIH defines a foreign component as “any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended.”

Can I add disclosures to current projects or proposals?

Yes. Contact your designated Sponsored Programs Administration team to have your application corrected.

What is a foreign talent recruitment program?

Illinois has an obligation to report foreign government talent recruitment program interactions. While the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) encourages international collaborations at the national laboratories, all federal agencies have growing concerns about the national and economic security risks associated with international research and collaborations involving sensitive foreign countries. The intent is not to stop international collaborations, but to protect specific science and technology. To address these concerns, on June 7, 2019, DOE issued Order 486.1, establishing new requirements for reporting talent recruitment programs operated or funded by foreign countries.

Distinguishing features of a foreign government talent recruitment program covered by this Order include:

  1. Compensation provided by the foreign state to the targeted individual in exchange for the individual transferring their knowledge and expertise to the foreign country. The compensation can take several forms, such as cash, research funding, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, promised future compensation, or other types of remuneration or consideration.
  2. Recruitment in this context refers to the foreign-state-sponsor’s active engagement in attracting the targeted individual to join the foreign sponsored program and transfer their knowledge and expertise to the foreign state. The targeted individual may be employed and located in the U.S., or in the foreign state. Recruitment would not necessarily include any invitation for engagement extended by the foreign state, for example, an invitation to attend or present work at an international conference.
  3. Many, but not all, programs aim to incentivize the targeted individual to physically relocate to the foreign state. Of particular concern are those programs that allow for continued employment at U.S. research facilities or receipt of DOE research funds while concurrently receiving compensation from the foreign state.

Association with talent recruitment program by itself is not illegal; however, potential participants and their employers should be aware of legal issues that may arise as a result of participation, including violation of export-control laws, economic espionage, or violation of employer conflict-of-interest policies.


Where do I disclose my involvement in such a program?

  • Disclose all financial interests and outside professional activities in myDisclosures—both annually and within 30 days of acquiring new interests as required by the Conflict of Commitment or Interest Policy and Report of Non-University Activities (RNUA). Activities requiring disclosure include support from foreign governments and foreign academic institutions, foreign consulting relationships, visiting positions at foreign institutions, investment in a start-up company, foreign recruitment or “talent” programs, etc. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation can provide additional guidance on what to disclose.
  • Ensure compliance with the University of Illinois System Anti-Bribery Policy prohibiting improper payments to government officials in order to avoid violation of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • Discuss any invitation for any academic appointment or position at an international institution (visiting, honorary, or other) with Export Compliance prior to accepting the appointment.
  • Disclose to Export Compliance involvement in any foreign recruitment or “talent” programs.  These programs are of particular interest to the federal government, as they are seen as presenting a uniquely high risk of undermining U.S. economic and security interests.

What are the consequences for failure to disclose?

Nondisclosure of foreign ties increases the risk that U.S. funding may be lost, or that other actions may be taken, such as DOJ criminal charges, termination from the university, or importantly, affiliation with a foreign talent program must be disclosed regardless of whether it results in any monetary support.

I’m a foreign national and wish to collaborate with a national lab, what do I need to do?

Each lab has requirements that determine access for foreign national collaboration. Please review the DOE order and NETL form.

Is Export Controls or foreign influence project-specific?

No. Export controls regulate specific equipment, technology, software, data and services for export. Some data may be shared or software used across several projects. Foreign influence is actions that are meant to influence US entities or obtain information that benefits the foreign entity at US taxpayer expense. Examples are theft of intellectual property, spread of disinformation to undermine US values, and offering compensation for setting up duplicate research facilities in the foreign country.

Does the source of funds change our institutional approach?

Possibly. Collaborations or interaction with entities in sanctioned countries may be forbidden. Collaborations with entities on a Restricted Party List would depend on the particular list and the reason for inclusion on that list. These situations are reviewed on a case by case basis with recommendations made based on the risk and ability to mitigate any risk.

The University of Illinois also screens donors to mitigate any risk associated with donor funds.

What is JCORE, and how will it impact my research?

The National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE) was created to “maximize the quality and effectiveness of the American research environment.” JCORE seeks input from private industry, academic institutions, professional societies, non-profit and philanthropic organizations, and Federal agencies. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), places a strong emphasis on safeguarding U.S. research from threatening foreign government influence as well as ensuring the U.S. research environment is welcoming to all individuals and empowering them to work in a safe and inclusive manner with the highest ethical standards.

For more information on how JCORE will impact your research, please review this report. 

Where do I go to seek a license?

Obtaining an export license, deemed export license, advisory opinion, or other government authorization can only be conducted by the Export Compliance Officer (for Export Administration Regulations (EAR)) and Empowered Official (for International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)). Planning and preparing as early as possible in your proposal process is critical. What you need to be mindful of is regardless of whether a licenses is needed it can be a timely process. Some applicants have waited six or more months on a response please contact the Export Control Officer to assist in identifying potential export control issues. Determining when you need an export license can be very complicated. The Export Compliance Officer will determine if a license is required and/or if there is a valid license exception or other exclusion that may apply. Email exportcontrols@illinois.edu for help with your questions.