Frequently Asked Questions
Why contact the Export Control Office (ECO)?
There are several reasons a WVU staff or faculty member might need to contact the WVU ECO. These include:
- Traveling internationally for WVU business or with WVU-owned equipment;
- Hiring a non-immigrant worker;
- Inviting a foreign national to visit or work at WVU (e.g., visiting scholars);
- Purchasing equipment that is export controlled;
- Shipping or receiving materials or goods to/from a foreign country;
- Receiving a grant for a project that may be export controlled or performing research on export controlled topics; and
- Developing a technology control plan (TCP) for a project that is export controlled or has export controlled materials/information/equipment.
West Virginia University does not manufacture items and send them outside of the United States, how does export control apply to us?
While universities generally do not export goods and services in the traditional sense, technology is often exported through international research collaboration, presentations at international technical conferences, or shipping or carrying equipment outside of the country. Universities must also be aware of “deemed exports” – the release of information or technology to a foreign national, whether that happens in the United States or in a foreign country. Much of the research conducted at universities like WVU is considered fundamental research and not subject to export controls, but not all research at WVU is fundamental research so it is important to have an export control compliance program.
I do not work with export controlled information or technology, why do I need to worry about export control?
Everyone at WVU is responsible for export control compliance, whether you work in a highly technical department or a non-technical department. While you may not think something is export controlled, it may be because of the country to which you are traveling. For example, if you are going on an academic trip to Cuba, you cannot take some electronics with you because of the embargo, although the United States is currently working towards normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba. Also, if you are traveling internationally and are connecting to WVU computers, servers, or e-mail systems, you need to be aware of important practices to protect against export control violations.
Do I have to complete the export control travel form every time I travel internationally?
You have to complete the Office of Global Affairs WVU Abroad international travel registry for every international trip that is related to university business. If you know you will be traveling to multiple countries for definite time periods over the course of the academic year for the same reason (e.x., visiting clinics or conducting workshops), you many submit one registration for all of the trips at one time and the ECO will conduct one screening for all trips.
All travelers MUST read and sign the most recent Best Practices form once per fiscal year and submit it to the ECO.This is included in the WVU Abroad international travel registry. Vacation travel or other personal travel abroad to destinations other than embargoed countries does not need to be reported to the ECO if the traveler is not taking WVU-owned equipment with them. If any WVU-owned devices or information is accompanying the traveler, the traveler must submit the vacation travel form to the ECO, which will list the destination and the WVU-owned equipment the traveler is taking. If there are any export control concerns related to the trip, the ECO will contact the traveler to ensure they can comply with all federal regulations and still enjoy their vacation. These forms can be found on the "Forms" section of this web site.
Any person traveling to an embargoed country for any reason must consult with the ECO as soon as the trip is planned.
Why do I have to disclose the institutions and people I am visiting or meeting with on my trip?
As part of the export control screening, the ECO performs a detailed restricted party search (RPS) on the people and institutions you will visit, in addition to the traveler. Export control regulations vary based on the country of interest, and it is possible that someone from WVU will visit a person or institution that appears on a restricted party list. While an institution or person being on a restricted party list would not necessarily mean the trip has to be canceled (it would depend on the particular situation and the purpose of the trip), it would at least mean the traveler would have to be more aware of the regulations on their trip.
Do students traveling internationally have to complete a form?
If students are traveling on university business (e.g., attending a conference, study abroad, international medical rotations), then they need to complete the WVU Abroad international travel registry. The Best Practices form is included in the WVU Abroad international travel registry.
How long before my trip do I need to complete the WVU Abroad international travel registration?
WVU Travelers are required to complete the WVU Abroad international travel registry at least one month prior to departure. The ECO cannot guarantee screenings for forms submitted within two weeks of departure. Please be aware, however, that if a federal license is required for the international travel due to export control reasons, it may take anywhere between several weeks and several months to obtain a license. Therefore, for any planned international travel where the traveler suspects there could be export control restrictions, the completed travel forms should be submitted to the ECO at least three months prior to the intended departure date.
Do I need to bring the signed export control documents with me on my trip?
Having the signed export control travel documents with you while traveling can help clear up potential problems with mistaken identity and also help to prove you are not bringing into the U.S. electronic equipment purchased abroad. The ECO recommends keeping an electronic copy of the entire signed screening easily accessible when you travel. The electronic copy can be access through the WVU Abroad international travel registry.
What do I have to do when hiring a non-immigrant worker?
When hiring a non-immigrant worker, you need to complete the Deemed Export Verification for Non-immigrant Visas form and electronically send that to the ECO along with a copy of the applicant’s passport identification page, CV, offer letter, and job/project description. The ECO will send the completed screening and signed forms to the PI or supervisor and the International Student and Scholar Services in the Office of Global Affairs. The ECO performs this screening to satisfy the I-129 requirement for visa applications which states either that a license is not required or is required for the foreign national to obtain a visa.
What do I do if my laptop or other electronic equipment is lost or stolen while I am travelling abroad?
The first thing you should do is report the theft to the local authorities and make sure you get a copy of the police report. After you have done this, you should contact the WVU ECO and let the office know a theft has occurred and what was stolen, even if it was a personal item. When you return from your trip, you will need to meet briefly with the ECO personnel to discuss what, if any, export controlled material or information was on the stolen equipment and to determine what the next steps are based on the facts of the case. If there were no export controlled material or information on the stolen equipment, then all you will need to do is sign a form certifying that. If there was export controlled material or information on the stolen equipment, it may be necessary for the ECO to do a voluntary self-disclosure to the federal government.
I was awarded a contract and the sponsor wants to review the research before it is published. Does this mean my project is now subject to export controls?
While most research in a university setting is covered by the fundamental research exclusion from export control, if a sponsor places restrictions on the publications then the research may no longer be considered fundamental and will need to be screened to determine if the subject is export controlled. If a sponsor simply wants to review the research before publication for intellectual property concerns or for proprietary data concerns, that will not generally negate the fundamental research exemption. However, if the sponsor has said the research cannot be published or has the power to decide what can and cannot be published, then the research matter will need to be screened for export controlled subject matter. The ECO and Office of Sponsored Programs will work with any PI whose newly award research grant or contract may be subject to export control restrictions based on the grant or contract language and decide how to proceed.
Where can I find red flags related to export control?
The Bureau of Industry and Security and Shield America from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement both provide “red flags” related to export control. If you would like more information on this topic, please contact the ECO directly.