Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Procedure for Inviting and Hosting a Visitor to the Astronomy Program

Requests should be made as soon as possible, but no less than two weeks before the visitor is to arrive. International visitors may require at least three months notice in order to complete all of the necessary processing. Once you have submitted your request, you can expect to receive confirmation from our staff about the status of the visit and the office assignment once it has been processed. 


Hosting a Colloquium speaker, Tinsley scholar, and other visitors for lunch or dinner:

Overall limits (including tax & tip): Breakfast - $30/person, Lunch - $40/person, Dinner - $75/person. Costs that exceed limits cannot be reimbursed.

Graduate student colloquium lunch: Speaker + 6 graduate students (including the grad lunch host) - Maximum $40 per person (including tax and tip)

Colloquium dinner: Speaker + 5 faculty, researchers, or postdocs (including the host). Graduate students may also be invited and are encouraged to attend for professional development (and count towards the 5 total attendees). Maximum $75 per person (including tax and tip). Alcohol cannot exceed 50% of the total bill.

Tips cannot exceed 20% of the subtotal. Please double-check that the restaurant has not already included a gratuity if you have a large group. Sales tax can only be reimbursed for meals at a dining establishment. Taxes on delivery and to-go meals cannot be reimbursed (tax exempt certificate available here).

Save both receipts (itemized and credit card payment) to turn in for reimbursement after the event. Please provide the names of all participants. 

[See also: CNS OOEF Policy Page]


Inviting and Hosting a Visitor, broken down by type of visitor:


No cost to UT for a short-term visit:

Email Lara Eakins with the name of the visitor, affiliation and title, and dates of the visit. A key will be supplied for the duration of the stay. Wi-fi cards are no longer needed since UT now has EduRoam access and an open UTGuest wi-fi network.

No cost to UT for a long-term visit:

These visitors must have an official assignment processed by the department HR person. These 0% assignments require a background check with an associated fee up to $35. An account number must be supplied to cover these costs. [See also: HR Background Check policy page] Visitors who wish to get a UT ID card can visit the ID Center in the FAC after their assignment has been processed. There is a $10 fee for the ID card that can be covered by the visitor or a with UT account number. Once their assignment is processed they will have internet access through the campus wi-fi with their EID and password. The physical ID card will also give the visitor access to the Capital Metro bus system without charge.

Visitors who will be here 6 months or longer, even at no cost to UT, will require approval from the department chair. The Chair's office will require a statement of the purpose of the visit and a recent CV. 


Hosting a visitor for whom you are covering any expenses:

The Astronomy Department has direct billing set up with several campus-area hotels to receive a UT rate, usually $189/night plus city tax. Hotel stays can also be reimbursed, but only up to $260/night (see below for how this impacts food reimbursement). In most cases, arrival on a Saturday is not allowed unless that is part of personal time covered by the traveler, although staying over a weekend into the following week is allowed for longer term visitors.

Meals can be reimbursed up to $51 per day. Receipts are preferred, but a per diem can be used (at the maximum of $51/day) if requested by the UT host. If hotel costs exceed $209/night, that will reduce the amount of allowed food reimbursement.

Airfare can be covered and done as a direct bill with enough notice or reimbursed after the fact. Receipts with the traveler's name and last four digits of the credit card number are required for airfare reimbursement. 

If you are planning to host a visitor for more than one or two meals that you wish to charge to a UT account please notify Lara Eakins before the visit so we can prepare the Official Occasion Expense form and get the required signatures in advance. If you want to host a meal with a visitor, please use a 30 account. If you need to charge it to a grant account you will have to provide proof that meals can be justified on the grant.

If you wish to use multiple accounts to pay for a visitor, please give both account numbers and the breakdown of how the costs are to be applied BEFORE the visit so the information can be put into the original RTA. Trying to move funds between accounts for travel costs after a visit can cause problems and may result in delays of reimbursement payment to a visitor.

Not visiting UT Austin but UT non-employee expenses are covered by a UT account:

If you wish to pay for all or part of a non-UT employee's visit to a conference, observing run, etc. the 'visitor' procedure still needs to be followed. This includes visits to McDonald Observatory, even if only rooms at the Astronomers' Lodge are being covered. You cannot pay for a non-UT employee's visit without going through the official process to allow us to use UT funds on their behalf.


International visitors who require a visa:

If you are hosting an international visitor who needs assistance with obtaining a visa, we will serve as a liaison with the International Office to assist in getting the documents necessary to secure the visa. Please initiate these requests a minimum of three months before the visit to ensure there is enough time to complete the entire visa process. There are fees with most visa types that require a UT account number. These fees are several hundred dollars, so keep this in mind even if the visitor is otherwise paying their own way.


Paying an honorarium to a visitor:

US citizens will receive the full amount of the honorarium and then receive a 1099-MISC from UT when W-2s are distributed at the beginning of the calendar year.

If the visitor is not a US citizen and meets certain requirements, they may be able to set up a tax treaty meeting with Accounting so they don't have 30% automatically taken from their honorarium. This doesn't apply to all foreign nationals since it is dependent on various tax treaties that the US has with other nations, the length of stay, and other fees they may have received from other institutions. If your visitor does not qualify for tax treaty benefits, you have the option of increasing the honorarium so that they will still receive the originally intended amount. (Example - to receive a $1000 honorarium, we would pay $1428.57 so they would still receive $1000 after the US taxes are withheld).

We require a minimum of one month advance notice of your intention to pay an honorarium to a non-US citizen in order to confirm whether or not they qualify for tax treaty benefits and to initiate the process of claiming those benefits if they do qualify.