Georgetown University Research and Export Controls

Healy Hall with trees

Fundamental Research Exclusion

Much of the research that is conducted on the Georgetown University campus qualifies for the fundamental research exclusion to the export control laws. Fundamental research is defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. The fundamental research exclusion is lost when the University accepts a restriction on the participation of foreign nationals or on the ability to publish the results of the project (or if the investigator has made any side deals with the sponsor to restrict publications or participation). If the fundamental research exclusion does not apply to the project, a license may be needed before making any release of export controlled technology or source code to a foreign national on the Georgetown University campus (or elsewhere in the U.S.) unless the foreign national has become a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or has a protected person or asylee status. The Main Campus Office of Research Services (ORS), the Medical Center Office of Sponsored Research (OSR), and the Office of Technology Commercialization carefully review research agreements to identify whether there are any restrictions that would negate the fundamental research exclusion. If the project is not eligible for the fundamental research exclusion, ORO may develop a technology control plan to ensure proper management of controlled technology.

In addition, to ensure compliance with applicable regulations, potential research sponsors, suppliers/vendors (including independent contractors), and subrecipients are screened to ensure that they do not appear on certain U.S. Government and international watch lists.

Collaborations and Activities in Foreign Countries

ORS and OSR perform the initial review of externally funded agreements to determine whether they involve travel to, communications with, or exchange of information with any individual or entity in a country under OFAC sanctions, and contact ORO for further review of these projects. For projects that are unfunded, researchers and staff should contact ORO directly before traveling to or engaging in activities that involve sanctioned countries, particularly Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Ukraine-Russia. Each country’s restrictions differ so ORO will perform an analysis of the project, determine whether the activities involve the import or export of a service or the collaborating individual or entity appears on any government watch lists, and if a license is required.

Foreign Travel with University Owned Devices, High Tech Equipment, or Information

Researchers traveling to foreign countries should be aware that transporting University issued laptop computers, web-enabled cell phones and other electronic devices, or high tech equipment such as advanced GPS or other scientific equipment constitutes an “export” and may require a license. Researchers must remove special software, high levels of encryption, or proprietary, sensitive or unpublished materials, or any information that is subject to a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement from a University device before foreign travel. The best practice is to travel only with information that is publicly available, in the public domain, is educational information, or qualifies for the fundamental research exclusion.

UIS can assist travelers in protecting against such threats to their data while traveling overseas, including by the use of additional encryption, loaner laptops, or other mechanisms.

For additional guidance on IT security while traveling overseas, please review the following document: The Effective Practice: Cybersecurity for the International Traveler document is provided by the Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) which serves over 620 member institutions within the higher education and research community by promoting cybersecurity operational protections and response.

Extensive information and resources related to international travel are available from the Office of Global Services and the Risk Management Office. Booking travel through Georgetown Travel Services is highly encouraged as those traveling will automatically be registered with International SOS and receive safety and other alerts and advisories as they are issued.

Physical Exports of Materials, Equipment, or Data

Before shipping any scientific materials or equipment outside of the U.S., researchers should contact ORO to determine whether they are subject to the export control regulations. The University’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) will prepare a data transfer agreement or a material transfer agreement (MTA) for transmission of unpublished data or shipments of biologics, cell lines, or other research materials from Georgetown to other individuals and organizations in foreign countries. OTC will work with ORO to determine whether a license is needed for these transactions.

Imports of Materials and Equipment

Any imports of biological or scientific materials or equipment from foreign countries become subject to the export control laws upon entry into the U.S. Researchers who are importing materials or equipment that are intended to later be returned to the sender should contact ORO to determine whether they are controlled and require a license to return them to the sender.

H-1B Visa Extensions

Although the University’s Office of Global Services is responsible for processing visa extensions for foreign nationals, if the individual is working on an externally funded project, ORO or OSR will review the Export Control Addendum to verify whether a license is needed for the person to continue working in their position.

Foreign Visitors in Georgetown University Labs

While the University actively encourages collaborations with foreign scientists, researchers are cautioned that the release of controlled technology and information in a lab can be done by visual inspection or by written or verbal disclosure. Researchers are encouraged to contact ORO before hosting visitors to discuss whether they could have controlled materials on site that require protection and to have ORO conduct a restricted party screening of the visitor prior to arrival on campus.

International Activities That May Require a License

  • Collaboration with or payments to foreign scholars, scientists, and organizations
  • Transfer of unpublished information
  • Conducting surveys or interviews
  • High performance computing
  • Import or export of scientific materials or equipment
  • Attendance at or serving as a moderator or panel speaker at a conference
  • Foreign travel with devices that contain proprietary or sensitive information or high levels of encryption
  • Access to a Georgetown University lab by foreign visitors

Material Support for Terrorism

U.S. laws prohibit individuals and entities from providing material support — defined to include, among other things, tangible or intangible property, funding, services, training, expert advice or assistance, and personnel — to groups and individuals designated by the U.S. government as terrorists. For activities conducted through the University, the University screens research sponsors, vendors, subrecipients, and other contractors to ensure that they have not been designated as terrorists or appear on any other prohibited party lists. Faculty should also be aware of these restrictions in the event they are conducting activities in their personal capacity and/or having any discussions with groups or individuals that may appear on these lists.

Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)

The U.S. Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) requires U.S. individuals and entities who are performing certain activities for foreign entities or individuals — including engaging in political activities, providing certain public relations or politically related services, acting as a political consultant, or representing the foreign interest before the U.S. government — to register with the U.S. Department of Justice, unless an exception applies. The exceptions include attorneys representing clients before a court of law or agency; persons engaged only in activities that further the arts or religious, scholastic, academic or scientific pursuits; and certain other activities that are part of bona fide trade or commerce. More information about FARA is available at; please contact the Office of General Counsel or the Office of Compliance and Ethics if you have any questions.