Frequently Asked Questions

Export Controls

What Are Export Control Laws?

Export control laws are U.S. laws that were developed for foreign policy and national security reasons. They regulate the distribution of strategically important technology, services, and information to foreign nationals and foreign countries. The academic community must take specific steps to protect their research involving military and dual use application. In addition, financial and other transactions with certain countries, companies and individuals fall under export control laws. Failure to comply with export control laws may have serious consequences for both SIU System and you. The consequences for noncompliance are very serious for both the university and the researcher. Criminal penalties up to 30 years in prison and $10,000,000 in fines can occur for the most serious violations. Civil penalties can range from seizure and forfeiture of articles, revocation of exporting privileges and fines of up to $1,000,000 per violation.

How can export controls affect my research?

"Export" is defined not only as a physical transfer/disclosure of an item outside the US, but also as a transfer/disclosure in any form of a controlled item or information within the US to anyone who is a foreign national (not a US citizen or permanent resident). As a result, unless an exclusion or exemption is available, the university may be required to obtain prior governmental approval (in the form of an export license) before allowing the participation of foreign national faculty, staff, or students in affected research.

Additionally, laptops, PDA's/cell phones, digital storage devices, data, and software are subject to federal export controls regardless of why you are traveling even when your travel is not for SIU System-related business. Therefore, you must qualify for an exception or you may be required to obtain an export license. You should not take SIU System-owned equipment internationally except on SIU System-related business.

What kinds of projects raise export control questions?

Basically, any research activity may be subject to export controls if it involves the actual export or "deemed" export of any goods, technology, or related technical data that is either 1) "dual use" (commercial in nature with possible military application) or 2) inherently military in nature.

As a principal investigator, what do I need to do?

As the PI, you have the best understanding of your research and therefore the best information as to whether the particular technology, data, or information involved in that research is or may be covered by export control regulations. You are responsible for doing the following:

  • You should carefully review the information on export controls provided on this web site.
  • Before preparing a proposal or beginning any research, you should determine whether there may be any export control issues to address. You should coordinate with the research office regarding your research and the provisions of the proposal solicitation and/or award agreement in order to determine if there are potential issues.
  • If any such issues are identified, or if any question exists, the research office will work with you to determine whether any export control restrictions may apply to the research.
  • If it is determined that export controls apply to the project, you must adhere strictly to any applicable restrictions and cooperate fully with the university's efforts to monitor compliance.
  • After work on the project has begun, you should notify the research office prior to implementing any changes that may give rise to the application of export controls, such as a change in the scope of work or the addition of new staff to the project.

Reporting Incidents and Events:

The following situations must be reported immediately to the research office:

  • any contact, by phone, letter, e-mail, or in person, by a U.S. government official or agency concerning exports or imports, including any request to review or discuss a previously issued export license or past export shipment
  • detention or seizure of a shipment from or to the university by U.S. Customs
  • receipt of a subpoena or other criminal procedure notification related to U.S. export or import laws
  • a suspected violation of export control laws or the university guidelines regarding exports
  • any reporting requirements under the anti-boycott and restricted trade practices regulation
  • any requirement for U.S. Government export approvals
  • any unauthorized or illegal activities, whenever discovered.

Sufficient information must be provided to allow the university to pursue an appropriate course of action. If a potential violation has been reported, the matter will be handled by the individual university research offices in consultation with the Office of General Counsel.

Is anything excluded from export control laws?

Both the ITAR and the EAR recognize a number of important exemptions and exclusions to the Export Control Laws. Of particular relevance to the Washington University community are the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE), the Public Domain Exclusion, and the Educational Information Exclusion.

Fundamental Research Exclusion

Information from “fundamental research” is excluded from export control laws. It is the University’s policy, whenever possible, to conduct its research activities under the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Although the definitions of “fundamental research” vary slightly between the ITAR (22 CFR § 120.11(a)(8)) and the EAR (15 CFR § 734.8​), both are based upon the Reagan Administration’s National Security Directive 189​, which defines fundamental research as:

“Basic or applied research in science and engineering at an accredited institution of higher learning, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.”

The Fundamental Research Exclusion is NOT available when:

  • Publication restrictions are accepted from the sponsor (beyond a brief review for proprietary information)
  • Access or participation restrictions are accepted from the sponsor

Even if the basic project is determined to be fundamental research, the following aspects are still subject to export controls:

  • Work done outside the U.S.
  • Shipping of tangible items
  • Encryption software/source code
  • Export controlled proprietary information
  • Development or “Use” of equipment (operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, AND refurbishing)
  • Foreign National access to technologies, equipment, or technical data controlled under the ITAR

Though broadly defined, faculty​ and investigators should be mindful that the FRE does not apply to all University activities. Many clinical activities (such as patient care), for example, would not qualify as “research” in “science” or “engineering” and would therefore be ineligible for the FRE.

Public Domain Exclusion

Both the ITAR and the EAR exclude from their export licensing requirements any information that is already in the public domain. (22 CFR §120.11 (a)​ (ITAR)); (15 CFR §734.7​ (EAR)​)

Information may be considered “published” and hence in the “public domain” when it is generally accessible to the interested public through:

  • Libraries (public or university)
  • Periodicals, books, print, or other media
  • Patents and patent applications
  • Conferences, meetings, seminars, trade shows, or exhibits open to the public or technically qualified public.
  • Websites accessible to the public

Educational Information Exclusion

Both the ITAR and the EAR recognize a related exclusion for “educational information” that has become part of the public domain through academic instruction. Under the EAR, the exclusion applies to information that is publicly released through instruction in catalog courses and associated teaching laboratories (15 CFR §734.7​​). Under the ITAR, the exclusion applies to information concerning general scientific, mathematical, or engineering principles commonly taught in schools, colleges, and universities. (22 CFR § 120.10(b)).​​

What happens if we violate export control laws?

VIOLATIONS:

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/enforcement/oee/penalties

Violations of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

Criminal Penalties (for willful violation): Maximum $1,000,000 for each violation or imprisonment of up to twenty years, per violation.

Civil Penalties: Maximum $1,163,217 for each violation

In addition, suspension or debarment from government contracts; seizure or forfeiture of the item; and/or revocation of export privileges.

Violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

Criminal Penalties (for willful violation): may result in the institution paying a fine of up to $1,000,000 or five times the value of the exports (whichever is greater) for each violation; and the individual may be fined up to $250,000 or be imprisoned for up to twenty years, or both, for each violation.

Criminal Penalties (for knowing violation): may result in the institution paying a fine of up to the greater of $50,000 or five times the value of the exports for each violation; and the individual may be fined up to the greater of $50,000 or five times the value of the exports or be imprisoned for up to five years, or both, for each violation.

Civil Penalties: include $12,000 for each violation or $120,000 for each violation for items involving national security or up to $311,562 for each violation involving sanction programs under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); suspension or debarment from government contracts; seizure or forfeiture of the item; and/or revocation of export privileges.

Additionally, for each violation, any or all of the following sanctions may be imposed:

  • The denial of export privileges; and/or 
  • The exclusion from exporting practice; and/or 
  • Loss of federal funds
  • Seizure/Forfeiture of goods.

Where can I get help?

Any time you have a question about the application of export controls to any stage of a specific research project, contact:

SIU System
Todd A Wakeland, JD.
Director of Export Controls
3311 Rendelman Hall
Box 1259
Edwardsville, Illinois 62026
618-650-2476

Exporting Commodities, Technical Data, or Software

I intend to export an item, technical data or software. What do I need to do in advance of the export?

Notify the Export Compliance Focal Point for your lab/division, or SIU System’s Export Control Administrator at least 30 to 60 days prior to your intention to export so that compliance requirements can be resolved.  

There are two primary concerns:

1)  Export recipients must be screened against the U.S. Government’s restricted party watch-lists.

2)  The export of an item, data or software may require an export license.

Do I need to wait to export my item until I receive an export license or other authorization?

Yes.

If the export administrator determines that the item requires an export license, you will need to wait until we have the license. In any case, you will need to wait until the export administrator has completed watch-list screening. Screening itself normally only requires approximately 48 hours to process. Absent any screening concern and no license requirement, an export can proceed immediately.

Does it matter how I plan to export the item, i.e. ship by freight forwarder or courier, hand-carry, transmit data/software electronically? 

No; the method of export has nothing to do with whether a license is required.   

How difficult is it to obtain an export license to ship tangible items, data or software?

Licenses are normally issued within 30 to 60 days from the date an application is submitted.

Normally and, subject to certain exceptions, it is not difficult to obtain a license. Upon obtaining the necessary details about the export (e.g., nature of the item, purpose/end use, destination, and end user) our export administrator prepares and files the appropriate type of license application (dual use –EAR license) or defense categorized - ITAR license). The license application is filed through one of the on-line U.S. Government agency portals, and the administrator is able to track the government’s approval process. Licenses are normally issued within 30 to 60 days.

Note that where the Government finds the proposed export to have particular national security, biological safety, or nuclear or missile technology implications, the applicable Government agency can deliberate longer over the issuance of the license, referring it for inter-agency review or requesting SIU System to provide specific details. Hence, it is critical to allow sufficient time prior to intended export, for the license application to be processed.

Where the license application is intended to cover the provision of a defense service under the ITAR, (i.e. the release in any manner of ITAR technical data to a foreign national or training or assistance to a foreign national using ITAR data), this type of ITAR license called a Technical Assistance Agreement or TAA, can take longer to prepare and longer to process.

Once we have a license authorization, am I done with the compliance requirements?

No.

All export licenses and authorization carry provisos or conditions which are the Government’s specific restrictions or limitations on the export activity. For example, the Government may require that the recipient of the export provide a Letter of Assurance that they will not transfer or re-export the item beyond the originally licensed country destination. Limitations on the duration of the license, or on access by foreign nationals from certain countries may also apply. Failure to adhere to these provisos results in an enforceable export violation.

Do exports to every country require an export license?

Not necessarily.

Under the EAR dual use regulations, license requirements are on an item by item, country by country basis. As such, your particular item may or may not require a license. Under the ITAR defense regulations, exports to all countries presumptively require a license and, in some cases, depending on the country, the State Department will not, as a matter of policy, issue a license. For example, China is per se a prohibited country under the ITAR USML regulations: the State Department will not consider issuing a license of a USML item to China. There are approximately 10 other countries that are likewise prohibited under ITAR. Therefore, it is essential that all exports be cleared by the export administrator.         

Do I need an export license to temporarily ship research equipment or a prototype/sample out of the U.S., for example, for purposes of field research or equipment demonstration?  

In some cases, yes.

The answer depends on the export control jurisdiction of the item, as follows:

Scenario A: EAR dual use items: if the equipment does not require a license to export it to any country, then no, the temporary export does not require a license. If on the other hand, the item would normally require a license to export abroad, a specific license exemption such as the “Tool of Trade” exemption must apply to the temporary export or otherwise a license is required.  [Note: the Tool of Trade exemption itself has numerous qualifications based on type of export, destination, and duration of export. Hence, it can only be used when all requirements are met.]     

Scenario B: ITAR USML items: Yes: a DSP73 license is always required, even if I’m only sending or transporting the ITAR equipment to international waters or airspace (i.e. not landing it any particular country); there is no Tool of Trade exemption under the ITAR.

How does licensing work if I’m intending to ship both EAR and ITAR classified items?

You will likely need to obtain two licenses.

The ITAR item will require a DSP license, depending on the purpose of the export; the EAR item may require a separate license if controlled under the EAR. EAR items incorporated into ITAR items, lose their EAR identity: the entire item gets classified under ITAR. ITAR items incorporated into EAR-controlled or otherwise non-licensable items (No License Required) render the entire assembly ITAR, by virtue of the “see-through” rule under the ITAR regulations.       

What does it mean to provide a “defense service” under the ITAR regulations?

When I release ITAR-classified technical data to a foreign national (including foreign national students or visitors on campus, off campus, or abroad), this constitutes a defense service, requiring a license prior to such activity. In addition, providing technical assistance or training to a foreign military organization in the U.S. or abroad constitutes a defense service, regardless of whether the data or information being transferred is EAR or ITAR-governed. In these instances, it is necessary to first obtain a TAA from the State Department prior to releasing the data or conducting the activity.

Does that mean teaching foreign national students about something which happens to be listed on the USML requires a license?

Absolutely not.

Where we are teaching or discussing any item in the public domain which happens to be listed on the USML or we have self-invented such information during the course of fundamental research with the intention to publish it, there is no license requirement. The license requirement applies when we are exporting ITAR data which we have received from a sponsor (government or industry) or research collaborator (government, industry, or research institution) under a restricted agreement i.e. it is explicitly export controlled, and does not qualify as fundamental research intended for the public domain.

Is there any easy way to distinguish between what is classified as an EAR vs. ITAR item for export license purposes, such as a laboratory research tool? What if the classification is not clear from the use of the vendor’s specifications?

When in doubt, refer the evaluation to the export administrator.

Typically, our research instruments are not categorized under the USML; however, as noted earlier, they may be dual-use controlled under the EAR and hence require a license. Where an item is specifically designed or modified for defense purposes as defined under the USML, it is likely ITAR-classified.  When an item is procured, this designation may be referenced in the vendors’ Operation Manual or sales documentation, though not always. Research institutions transferring ITAR items during the course of collaborative research do not always identify such items as ITAR controlled, unless the Material Transfer Agreement so requires. Bottom line: you cannot tell whether an item is EAR or ITAR controlled merely by looking at: if there is any doubt, refer the evaluation to our export administrator who will assist in the classification for license purposes.

Do I really need to be concerned if the item that I plan to export is commercially available abroad?

Yes. Commercial availability does not remove an article from export jurisdiction and a potential licensing requirement.

Do I need to be concerned if I’m importing an item into the U.S., i.e., are there import compliance regulations?

Yes.

All imported items are subject to U.S. Customs regulations, and may have Customs duty and reporting requirements. In addition, importing items listed on the USML require an ITAR license, unless certain specific exemptions are met.      

Foreign National Access to EAR- and ITAR-controlled Items and Data

Do I need a license to allow foreign national access to laboratory equipment?

In some cases, yes.

Assuming the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE) applies to the activity in which EAR-classified equipment is being accessed, generally speaking no license is required. However, there are some narrow exceptions to this rule: access to a) certain levels of advanced cryptographic functionality and source code; and b) proprietary third party proprietary “use” and “development” technology pertaining to the equipment if it in fact is controlled.     

What about foreign national access to technical data?

In some cases, this will also be licensable.

As with the above scenario, unless the situation aligns to one of the FRE exceptions, access to technical data related to operating EAR equipment does not constitute a licensable deemed export.   

How does having an ITAR item in my laboratory affect foreign national (student, post doc, H1) access to it, including foreign nationals subject to SIU System’s Foreign Visits and Assignments Program?

If you’ve invented the item and publish the results of your invention, there is no access restriction, since it was created under the Fundamental Research/Public Domain exclusion. However, if you’ve purchased the item or otherwise received it from a third party (i.e. proprietary technology) and it is not already in the public domain, then access to or use of the item that allows the foreign national insight into how it works (directly or by virtue of controlled technical data) is restricted and subject to license authorization; in this case, while a license application is pending or if no license is applied for or approved, the ITAR item will require a Technology Control Plan to restrict access by foreign nationals.

But can’t foreign nationals access all equipment and data since SIU System operates under the Fundamental Research/Public Domain Exclusions?

No.

See ”How does having an ITAR item in my laboratory affect foreign national (student, post doc, H1) access to it?” The same rule applies to ITAR technical data (not self-invented) that exists in any form (soft or hard copy), conversational release of data, blue prints, manuals, etc. 

What if I’m a foreign national PI who wishes to access an ITAR item as part of my fundamental research program: am I excluded from access as well?

Yes, with one exception that can be utilized with the assistance of SIU System’s export administrator.

There is one narrow exception under the ITAR which allows a PI access to ITAR technical data where the PI is a bona fide, full time employee of the research institution and meets other specific criteria. Assuming the terms of this exception are met, the PI is subject to the same no-transfer restrictions that a U.S. person PI is subject to. Hence, this exception is used for accessing background information only necessary to launch or conceptualize contemplated fundamental research. If the research requires the data to be shared with the research team which may include foreign nationals, the exception cannot be invoked, since only the PI may qualify under the exception. PIs wishing to explore using this exception must contact SIU System’s export administrator prior to accessing any such data.            

Is there any problem with communicating with or assisting a foreign government with respect to our research?

It depends on the situation.

If the research involves ITAR technical data and we are training or assisting the government representative to be able to use it in a defense context, this would require a “defense service” TAA.  This applies even if the data is already in the public domain (this rule is currently being de-regulated by State, but is not yet law); i.e. data not yet in the public domain and provided to a foreign defense organization would still constitute a defense service, and require a TAA.  (Note: even EAR-classified technical data being provided to a foreign defense organization for a defense purpose may constitute a defense service).    

Staying within the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE) Outside the Laboratory 

How do I remain within the FRE for purposes of the EAR and ITAR when teaching or lecturing abroad?

When teaching or presenting research results abroad, attending professional conferences etc., as long as what is being presented is the results of fundamental research intended for publication or to be published, there is no export license requirement. However, to the extent you depart from this framework and present in any form data which is proprietary to another party, or restricted by the sponsor’s contract or funding mechanism, then the FRE education and conference exclusions no longer apply. Note that when presenting at professional conference has to be one normally associated with the academic or professional subject at hand and not closed in a way that is contrary to the premise of published fundamental research.

What if I need to export laboratory instrument or tools as part of my work abroad?

See Travel Abroad and International Collaborations.

Travel Abroad

Which countries should your laptop not be transported to?

All SIU travel to the below countries WILL REQUIRE that an Informational Technology Services clean laptop be used during SIU business travel to these countries.

Your SIU issued laptop computer SHALL NOT be transported to any of the below countries.

  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Sudan
  • North Korea
  • Cuba
  • Ukraine (Crimea Region)
  • China
  • Russia
  • Venezuela

SIU Clean Laptop Program

Can I bring my laptop and other hand held communication devices with me?

Yes, with several exceptions.

If, for example, you happen to have export controlled data on your laptop (i.e. proprietary data which is not the results of fundamental research), this would require a license, depending on its EAR or ITAR classification. In addition, the U.S. Government’s OFAC restrictions prohibit the export by any means of any article (including laptops or hand held devices) to Cuba, Iran, Syria or Sudan without license authorization. See OFAC.

Can I hand carry samples or other laboratory instruments?

If EAR (dual use) controlled, such items may or may not qualify under the Tools of Trade exemption, and therefore require prior classification. If ITAR controlled, a license is likely required.

International Collaborations and Conducting Research Abroad

Does collaborating internationally with another researcher or foreign institution have export control requirements?

Yes, in several respects. 

The exchange of scientific information with researchers and administrators abroad can trigger control requirements such as end user screening and export licensing for tangible items and software under ITAR and EAR control regimes (see also OFAC section below).

In addition, the ITAR regulations include controls on providing a “defense service.” This pertains to providing advice, training assistance, and other release of technical data to a foreign national with respect to an article on the USML or providing same to a foreign national for a military/defense objective with respect to any article, whether or not listed on the USML.    

In addition, visiting scholars and researchers who visit SIU System as part of the collaboration will likewise need to be restricted from accessing SIU System laboratories wherein ITAR items or data are kept or used.

Fabrication and Service Contracts; Spin-off Entities

Do fabrication and service activities outside of fundamental research trigger special export control concerns?

Most definitely, yes. Where fabrication or contract service work is being conducted using the university’s physical or human resources (i.e. a separate legal entity does not own or house the activity), it is essential that the PI/Administrator leading or conducting such activity understand the export control implications and requirements prior to such activity occurring. Again, certain exemptions such as the ITAR bona fide employee exemption will not apply to this type of non-research/academic activity.

What if the fabrication and service activities are being conducted through an independently-owned spin-off entity, i.e. SIU System does not own the activity nor is it the entity disclosing any data being used? 

Where a SIU System PI or administrator has spun-off or is working for a separately organized company to perform contract services independent of his/her research or teaching position at SIU System, the activity conducted by this company cannot be conducted using the university’s physical resources (including laboratory space) or human resources (unless by separate contract). In these cases, such activity - - which is outside the scope of the university’s fundamental research exclusion - - may trigger export control requirements for which the University will not be legally responsible.

In such situations, it is necessary for the separate legal entity to seek separate counsel pertaining to export control compliance obligations. As noted above, the bona fide employee exemption under ITAR allowing a foreign national faculty member access to ITAR data does not apply or carry over to ITAR work or access to controlled instruments or data provided by and conducted through a separate proprietary entity.

Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC)

What Special Rules Apply to Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan?

The OFAC regulations pertaining to transactions with these countries vary by country. These regulations address not only export, but a much broader spectrum of activity (e.g., funding, service providing) that OFAC restricts absent specific license approval.

For example, the Cuba sanctions regulate personal travel to Cuba as well as professional research activity conducted with Cuba institutions here and abroad. That said, the Cuba regulations allow for broad range of research and humanitarian related activity when approved by license from OFAC. (See SIUE’s governance on activities pursued through the Cuban and Caribbean Center.)

The Iran regulations, on the other hand, do not regulate individual tourist travel to Iran, but remain highly restricted as to any activity, research or otherwise, which OFAC defines as a “service” to Iran. While certain kinds of collaborative research activity are permissible with Iranian institutions, to the extent such research contemplates the exchange of material items with Iran or, providing advice on establishing a laboratory or research facility in Iran, a license may be required. Likewise, peer review or editorial comment that extends beyond the scope of what is normally defined as credential input or scientific journal editorial review may likewise trigger a license requirement.

With respect to Syria and Sudan, because of the geopolitical instability in both countries, transactions with those nations likewise must be evaluated carefully for evolving sanctions and requirements. 

Hence, when contemplating any research or transactional activity with one of these OFAC countries or foreign nationals known to reside in these countries, contact the Export Control Administrator for assistance before proceeding.   

 

Iran

Can I travel to Iran?

Yes, travel to Iran is allowed, and you can engage in any transaction that is ordinarily incident to travel, including importing and exporting your personal items. While in Iran, you can pay living expenses and make use of Iranian services incident to travel. You can also acquire goods and services for personal use. [see 31 CFR 560.210]

Can I freely collaborate with Iranian undergraduate and graduate students that are enrolled at Southern Illinois University?

Yes you can freely collaborate with any Iranian student who is enrolled at Southern Illinois University. [see 31 CFR 560.505]. However, if you are in one of the STEM fields, you should ensure that you do not release export controlled technology or software to your Iranian students. While the majority of the technology and related information that is discussed and shared with our students here at SIU is not export controlled because it qualifies for a research exclusion: (i) generated under the Fundamental Research Exclusion; or (ii) constitutes Educational Information that is not subject to Export Control Regulations; or (iii) is publicly available/already in the public domain, some information (particularly information you may have received from an outside, non-academic third party) may be export controlled.  Prior to release of such technology or software, please ensure that (a) it is ordinarily incident and necessary to the educational program in which the student is enrolled, and (b) it has an export control classification of “EAR99”. If you need assistance determining whether your technology/information is export controlled or classified as “EAR99”, please contact the Export Control Office.

Can I collaborate with Iranian colleagues who are based here in the U.S. or in a third country (but not in Iran)?

In general, you will probably be able to collaborate with your Iranian colleagues based in the U.S. or in a third country (not Iran), however, you may need to establish if they are ordinarily resident in the U.S./third country. Why is that?

Background:

Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) prohibits the importation into the United States of services of Iranian origin [see 31 CFR 560.201]. What does that mean? OFAC uses a broad interpretation of “services” to mean anything from consulting, teaching, and translating, to collaborating, presenting, and research. Services of Iranian origin is defined as:

  • services performed in Iran or by a person residing in Iran; and
  • services performed outside of Iran by a citizen, national or permanent resident of Iran who is ordinarily resident in Iran.

The term Services of Iranian origin does not include services performed outside Iran by an Iranian citizen or national who is resident in the United States or a third country, provided such services are not performed by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or an entity organized under the laws of Iran or any jurisdiction within Iran, or a person located in Iran.[see 31 CFR 560.306]

Therefore, if your colleague is ordinarily resident in the U.S. or in a third country, you can collaborate with that colleague, provided (s)he is not acting on behalf of the Government of Iran or an Iranian entity. However, if your Iranian colleague is only temporarily in a third country and is ordinarily resident in Iran, you may need a license from OFAC to collaborate.

Can I co-author an academic paper with an Iranian colleague or student who is based in Iran or ordinarily resident in Iran (not a faculty or student at a U.S. institution)?

Yes, you can co-author an academic paper with an Iran colleague or student based in/ordinarily resident in Iran. OFAC issued a general license [31 CFR 560.538] which allows engagement in all transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the publishing and marketing of manuscripts, books, journals, and newspapers. This general license authorizes you to collaborate with your Iranian colleague on the creation and enhancement of written publications, including an academic paper, a book, or a dissertation. 31 CFR 560.538 also authorizes substantive editing of written publications.

Can I work with an Iranian who is based in Iran or ordinarily resident in Iran on the development, production, or design of software?

You will likely need a specific license from OFAC for this type of collaboration. While general license 31 CFR 560.538 allows academics to collaborate with Iranians who are ordinarily resident in Iran on the creation of written publication without the need to obtain a specific license, it does not allow the exportation from or importation into the U.S. of services for the development, production, or design of software. Contact the Export Control Office for further assistance.

Can I send a journal article or other published materials to a colleague in Iran?

Yes you can send printed materials, including a published journal article to colleagues in Iran without the need to obtain a specific license.  Per 31 CFR 560.210, the importation from Iran and exportation to Iran of informational materials is exempted from the prohibitions contained in ITSR. This applies to informational materials, which includes, but is not limited to, publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, tapes, CDs, DVDs, and artwork, whether commercial or otherwise, and regardless of format or medium of transmission.

Can I attend an academic conference in Iran?

To attend an academic conference in Iran, you will most likely need a specific license from OFAC. While you will be able to travel to Iran per 31 CFR 560.210 without the need to obtain a specific license, attending a conference will involve the import and export of “services”, both of which are prohibited per 31 CFR 560.204. Additionally, there is no general license available for conference attendance in Iran.  Specific licenses should be filed timely and with enough details.

Can I attend an academic conference in a third country where Iranians are participating?

Yes, per the ITSR general license under 31 CFR 560.554, you can attend an academic conference in the U.S. or a third country where Iranians are attending and participating, provided that

  1. this conference is open to the public; and
  2. this conference is not tailored, in whole or in part, for Iran or persons ordinarily resident in Iran; and
  3. this conference is not related to petroleum or petrochemical industries, energy development, crude oil or natural gas, pipelines, or the oil services industry.

Please also note that the general license under 31 CFR 560.554 does not authorize the release of technology or software to conference participants who are ordinarily resident in Iran.

My Iranian graduate student has gone home to Iran for the summer. Can I continue to advise her via email?

Graduate students sometimes travel home for family reasons but return to the U.S./Southern Illinois University after a few weeks. If your Iranian graduate student travels temporarily home but continues to be on her non-immigrant visa and enrolled in the degree program, you can continue to advise her via email while she is in Iran [see 31 CFR 560.505]. However, if you are in one of the STEM fields, you should ensure that you do not release export controlled technology or software to your Iranian students. While the majority of the technology and related information that is discussed and shared with our students here at SIU is not export controlled because it qualifies for a research exclusion (i) generated under the Fundamental Research Exclusion; or (ii) constitutes Educational Information that is not subject to Export Control Regulations; or (iii) is publicly available/already in the public domain, some information (particularly information you may have received from an outside, non-academic third party) may be export controlled.  Prior to release of such technology or software, please ensure that (a) it is ordinarily incident and necessary to the educational program in which the student is enrolled, and (b) it has an export control classification of “EAR99”. If you need assistance determining whether your technology/information is export controlled or classified as “EAR99”, please contact the Export Control Office.

My Iranian graduate student has been stuck in Iran for several weeks awaiting her visa renewal. It is not clear if and when she will receive her new visa. Can I continue to work with her via email and skype while she waiting in Iran?  

We strongly advise to discuss this situation with the Export Control Office. The overall assumption is that your graduate student continues to be enrolled in the degree program, and will continue to be on a non-immigrant visa. However, with the old visa expired and the new visa not having yet been issued, the general license authorized under 31 CFR 560.505, which allows for teaching and advising, may not be applicable, especially if there is a significant time delay and if there is perhaps even a slight possibility that the visa will not be renewed. The Export Control Office will help explore if other general licenses can be used to continue work with the student while she is stuck in Iran.

Can I transfer funds to an Iranian financial institution or to an individual or entity on one of the government restricted party lists?  

No, U.S. persons are prohibited from virtually all direct or indirect transactions involving Iran or the Government of Iran.  Further, U.S. persons are actually required to block all property and interests in property of the Government of Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran, any Iranian financial institutions, which also includes the Central Bank of Iran, and any individuals or entities found on a restricted party list, unless it relates to a transaction that is exempted by statute or authorized by OFAC.  Additional information can be found here.

Can U.S. academic institutions provide online learning services to Iranian students who are not physically present in the United States because of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic?  Can U.S. technology companies provide software and services to assist Iranian students in accessing online coursework?

The U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control provides the following information (853 | U.S. Department of the Treasury):

General licenses issued under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) authorize certain U.S. academic institutions and other U.S. persons to provide certain services and software to Iranian students.  These general licenses include:

General License G (GL G) authorizes accredited graduate and undergraduate degree-granting U.S. academic institutions, including their contractors, to export services to students located in Iran, or located outside of Iran but who are ordinarily resident in Iran (“Iranian students”), to sign up for and participate in certain undergraduate level online courses, notably:  (i) courses in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business that are the equivalent of courses ordinarily required for the completion of undergraduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business; and (ii) introductory undergraduate level science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses ordinarily required for the completion of undergraduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business.  In addition, under Section 560.405 of the ITSR, certain transactions ordinarily incident to a licensed transaction are also authorized.  OFAC interprets Section 560.405 of the ITSR to authorize certain transactions ordinarily incident to courses authorized by GL G, including the giving of assignments and testing and grading of Iranian students.  

General License M-1 (GL M-1) authorizes, on a time-limited basis, accredited graduate and undergraduate degree-granting U.S. academic institutions, including their contractors, to export additional services to those Iranian students who are eligible for non-immigrant classification under categories F (students) or M (non-academic students), and have been granted a nonimmigrant visa by the U.S. State Department, but are not physically present in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, GL M-1 authorizes the provision of certain online educational services related to:  educational courses that are (i) the equivalent of courses ordinarily required for the completion of graduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business; and (ii) introductory science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses ordinarily required for the completion of graduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business.  OFAC interprets Section 560.405 of the ITSR to authorize certain transactions ordinarily incident to courses authorized by GL M-1, including the giving of assignments and testing and grading of Iranian students.  GL M-1 also authorizes the exportation of certain software to facilitate the participation of certain Iranian students in certain online educational activities, as explained further below.  GL M-1 authorizes covered activities through 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time September 1, 2022.

Section 560.540 of the ITSR and General License D-1 authorize the exportation to Iran of certain services and software incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet, such as instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing, and blogging.  OFAC interprets these authorizations to cover video conferencing software and related services, as well as educational technology software and related services, that allow students to view courses and course materials, complete tests and assignments, receive grades, participate in discussions, and other, similar course-related online activity, provided that the software meets the additional criteria of the applicable authorization.  For more guidance on Section 560.540 of the ITSR and General License D-1, please see FAQs 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 434, 435, 436, 437, 438, 439, 440, 441, 442, and 443.  In addition, GL M also authorizes the exportation of certain software in order to facilitate participation in online educational activities described in GL G and GL M by Iranian students who are eligible for non-immigrant classification under categories F (students) or M (non-academic students), and have been granted a nonimmigrant visa by the U.S. State Department, but are not physically present in the United States due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To export services to Iranian students that fall outside of these authorizations, U.S. persons may apply for a specific license through the OFAC License Application Page.  OFAC is committed to mitigating the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritizes the review of specific license applications to provide online learning services to Iranian students who are not physically present in the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Please note that the general licenses summarized above do not authorize the exportation of goods (including software), services, or technology to the Government of Iran or to persons blocked under any authority administered by OFAC, including OFAC’s counterterrorism or counterproliferation authorities.