Import/Export Considerations when Hiring

  • Wichita State University is a federal contractor. Compliance with federal and state laws is critical to being able to conduct business here at Wichita State. Wichita State University is required to certify or assure state and federal governments that the University complies with statutes, administrative orders, etc.
  • When hiring, we typically think of regulations such as Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Workers Comp, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act, Veterans Preference, and others.
  • However, there are other regulations that affect hiring as well, and many people are not aware of just how important they are to the hiring process and candidate selection. In this case, we are talking about US import/export control laws.
  • Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the faculty, staff and students to be aware of and comply with US import/export control laws as well as with the University’s written instructions and procedures before engaging in any activities that may raise compliance issues.
  • Import/export controls are an expanding area of compliance for universities and research institutions across the country and the globe. And it is important to note that penalties for noncompliance include fines, imprisonment and denial of import/export privilege as well as loss of federal funding (including student loans) for individuals and the university as a whole. These types of penalties could be devastating to WSU, especially as we consider the future and the potential ramifications for innovation campus.
  • What does all of this have to do with hiring employees? The bottom line is that when there are import/export compliance issues, they also affect how you may go about filling a position. In some cases, due to the type of work being done, US citizenship or a license may be required. Issues related to dual citizenship, country of birth or interactions with a sanctioned country may also come into play during the hiring process. However, while maintaining compliance with import/export laws, we also must ensure continued compliance with federal labor laws, making sure that these restrictions are only used when called for by import/export laws. For example, we cannot just decide to only hire US Citizens for all positions, even those without import/export considerations. For this reason, it is important to understand the impact of import/export compliance before posting a position so that any restrictions on applicants can be included with the ad from the first placement.
  • Export control laws and regulations affect many types of activities, including many that take place within U.S. borders. Many people assume that because they are not importing or exporting anything outside of the US, they are not bound by these laws. However, something as simple as international travel can trigger special compliance requirements and considerations.
    • Import/export control is not just about moving product. The movement of information is also a key concern.
    • Other examples could include auditory, visually, verbally, or electronically. These types of exports can occur in innocent ways such as glancing at design specs on someone's desk, emailing data or specifications to a foreign collaborator, eavesdropping on a conversation, meetings/conferences with foreign persons in attendance, sharing data on a shared drive, uploading files to the cloud, instruction, training, and along with purchasing lab equipment, testing and research.
    • Restrictions can be triggered based on the type of materials being imported or exported.
      • Products used for military purposes will have even stricter regulation. In some cases, ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) come into play and requires US Citizenship to even work on a particular project or have access to certain data.
        • You may have seen job postings with a requirement such as the following:
          • Candidate must be a US citizen to comply with federal ITAR restrictions.
          • Remember, however, that Federal Labor laws prevent companies from restricting access to job opportunities to US Citizens only, unless there is a compliance reason to do so.
    • Other restrictions can be triggered based on the country you wish to do business with.
      • Some countries have economic or trade sanctions in place based on US security and US foreign policy goals.
      • These economic and trade sanctions are typically designed to target foreign countries, regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and others who constitute threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the U.S.
      • These types of regulations can affect your work if you are doing business with a sanctioned country or sometimes if you are trying to hire someone born in or with citizenship from a sanctioned country.
  • So what does all of this information mean to me as a hiring manager? Remember that it is the responsibility of each supervisor to understand how compliance may be a factor for each position in his or her department.
    • To help you determine whether compliance issues may affect your hiring process, a checklist has been developed. It contains key questions to ask about compliance when developing your position description.
    • This form is available on the HR Forms Index or via this link. Import/Export Compliance Checklist (Hiring) form

SME: 2/06/18 MH
Revised: 03/23/2020 MI