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What laws do I need to know about?

US law, as well as the freedoms protected by the US Constitution, has limited application on an overseas program. Host country laws are primary. International travelers must understand and respect the laws and culture of the host country and the regulations of the program abroad. International travelers must understand that a violation of foreign laws can result in legal responses from the host country, including arrest and incarceration. In addition, a violation of foreign laws, University policies, or these procedures may result in disciplinary action by the University.

There are some US laws that may apply to activities in which persons engage while traveling internationally. Persons traveling for University-related academic or business matters, as well as their units, are responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable US legal requirements. This section provides a brief overview of the following laws:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  2. Clery Act
  3. Export Controls
  4. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  5. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
  6. Gender Discrimination
  7. Human Subjects Research
  8. OFAC and USA Patriot Act

For additional information and questions, contact University Office of General Counsel, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, or the International Travel Risk Analyst.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of life in the US – to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in government programs and services. The University encourages students with disabilities to take part in international travel or study programs that may enrich their total educational experience. Students with disabilities who meet program requirements and choose to study or travel abroad will encounter both opportunities and challenges.  While the University can provide opportunities for international travel, the University cannot ensure that no discrimination will occur while traveling abroad – many countries do not even prohibit discrimination that would be illegal in the US. Reasonable accommodations vary greatly and depend upon individual needs, travel destinations, and academic activities.  Students with disabilities who are interested in international travel and study opportunities, along with staff and faculty involved in the planning process, should consider the following:

  • Faculty, students, disability counselors, and international study program advisors should work together to determine accessibility of facilities, transportation, classroom needs, and reasonable accommodations.
  • Anticipate and discuss socio-cultural and economic differences as they may affect the availability and implementation of some accommodations.  Prearrange and coordinate necessary accommodations before arrival.

For additional information, email University Disability Services or call at 303.871.2372.

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Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires US universities that participate in Title IV federal student financial aid programs to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses, or in off-campus facilities. The Clery Act is named in memory of Jeanne Ann Clery, a Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered in her campus residence hall in 1986. A major intention of the Clery Act is to provide accurate and timely safety information to the public, parents, students and potential students about the level of crimes, and student alcohol and drug violations that occur on a campus. The Clery Act requires reporting of crimes in seven major categories:  homicide, sex offences, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In addition, there are reporting requirements related to liquor and drug law violations, illegal weapons possession, and hate crimes. While the Clery Act primarily applies to the University campus area, the law also imposes obligations to track and report on incidents occurring in some international situations. Contact Campus Safety at 1.303.871.2334 or use the DU Passport incident e-form to report an incident covered by the Clery Act or to obtain additional information about Clery Act requirements. When in doubt about the need to report an incident, contact Campus Safety.

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Export Controls

The US regulates the transfer of information, commodities, technology, and software considered strategically important in the interest of national security, economic, and foreign policy concerns. A complicated set of laws and regulations, referred to as “Export Controls,” governs exports. Export Controls regulate the shipment or transfer of “exports” out of the US, by whatever means, of things such as information, software, technology, or services. In general, Export Controls may cover and require a license for each of five main types of activities:

  • Transferring controlled information, including technical data, to persons or entities outside the US
  • Shipping controlled physical items, such as scientific equipment
  • Verbal, written, electronic, or visual disclosures of controlled scientific and technical information
  • Travel to certain sanctioned countries for teaching, presentation at conferences, or performing research
  • Providing defense services

Check with the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (“ORSP”) for important information about research compliance and Export Controls. When travelling with a laptop, tablet or smartphone, be sure that it is not encrypted and does not contain information subject to Export Controls. Consult University Technology Services to discuss the availability of a “clean” laptop loaner.  Consult ORSP with any questions about Export Controls compliance. Also refer to the University’s Export Control/Trade Sanctions Policy.

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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Privacy laws such as FERPA may apply to activities of program leaders who hold important personally identifiable information about members of the group (e.g. social security numbers, passport numbers, dates of birth, addresses). This information is included as a part of protected student educational records under FERPA and cannot be released without a student’s written consent. Program leaders should protect student educational records in their possession to the fullest extent possible. If student educational records are lost, immediately contact the Registrar’s Office at 1.303.871.4095 and Campus Safety at 1.303.871.2334. 

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Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA)

This law makes it unlawful to bribe a foreign government official to obtain or retain business. University employees should be aware of and act in compliance with the FCPA when conducting international business on behalf of the University. The fact that corrupt practices may be tolerated or acceptable in other countries does not relieve University employees of their responsibilities under the law. For further information, refer to the US Justice Department’s “A Resource Guide to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

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Gender Discrimination

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on gender in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX requirements apply to University-related international travel. Persons having a complaint of or concern with sexual harassment, harassment, sex discrimination, or sexual assault involving an incident occurring on University-related travel should immediately contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator at 1.303.871.7420, at Jean.McAllister@du.edu, or use the DU Passport incident e-form. Do not wait to raise a concern or file a complaint until returning to the University campus. By contacting the Title IX Coordinator immediately, the University can take steps to attempt to eliminate the harassment, prevent its reoccurrence, and address its effects.

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Human Subjects Research            

Federal law and University policies apply to research involving humans, including research conducted internationally. All projects conducted by University faculty, staff, and students that involve human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) before engaging in the collection of any information from or about humans. Visit the IRB website for more information on requirements and processes. Contact the IRB Research Compliance Manager to discuss whether a project requires an IRB review. 

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OFAC and USA Patriot Act

The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the US. The sanctions can be either comprehensive or selective, using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals. The USA Patriot Act is often mentioned in conjunction with OFAC. This law has limited application to University travelers but could come into play if an activity is perceived as money laundering involving a terrorist group.

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