This page explains the policies related to travel and reimbursements. If you are a speaker or funded participant for an IPAM program, please review your invitation letter for terms of your funding and review the travel and reimbursement information below.


Our primary funding is from the National Science Foundation (NSF). We conform to University and Federal guidelines for the processing of payments and reimbursements. The following summarizes IPAM travel and reimbursement policies. These guidelines are for your information, and actual reimbursements are based on the allowable amounts pre-approved by IPAM for each individual.


If IPAM offered to reimburse your travel expenses, this offer is contingent on you obtaining appropriate immigration status from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please note that travel, visa, and reimbursement rules may change. While every effort is made to keep this web site current, please carefully read all email communication from IPAM, as it may contain updated guidance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Short-term visits (9 days or less)

The majority of our foreign participants travel on a business visa (B-1, or WB if using the ESTA/visa-waiver program). If you travel on a tourist visa (B-2, or WT if using the ESTA/visa waiver program), we will not be able to reimburse your expenses if you received reimbursements from more than 5 US institutions in the previous 6-month period, or if your stay ends up exceeding 9 days.

Medium-term stays (over 9 days, and 28 days or less)

If you are traveling under the ESTA/visa waiver program, please make sure to obtain a WB (business) visa. Upon entry to the US, please inform the US Customs and Border Patrol agent that the purpose of your visit is business.

If you will be traveling on an B visa that you obtained previously, please make sure that your visa is B-1 (business). Expenses for stays beyond 9 days cannot be reimbursed if traveling on a B-2 (tourist) visa, and there are additional limitations.

If you are not traveling under an ESTA/visa wavier program, and require a new paper visa from a US consulate, it is recommended that you obtain a J visa, which IPAM can sponsor. Please contact us for more information.

Special rule for graduate students: all visits to IPAM of over 21 days in duration require that you obtain the Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR) status from UCLA, and travel on a J visa. Please contact us for more information to initiate this process.

Longer term stays (over 28 days)

For all of our longer-term visitors, we recommend that you obtain a J visa, which IPAM will sponsor. Please contact us for more information.

Due to complex US regulations, in case of longer stays we discourage travel on the ESTA/visa waiver program, as this may affect our ability to reimburse your expenses. Please note that all visits under the visa waiver program are limited to 90 days, which is less than the duration of our semester-long programs.

Special rule for graduate students: all long-term visits require that you obtain the Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR) status from UCLA, and travel on a J visa. Please contact us for more information to initiate this process.

Undergraduate students participating in RIPS: please see the RIPS web page for visa information, since special rules apply to your situation.

If you work or study in the US

In most cases, no further paperwork is needed for your visit. Please consult your universities foreign scholars office for more information. Special rule for graduate students: to visit IPAM for more than 21 days, you need to obtain a Visiting Graduate Student (VGR) status from UCLA. Students at other UC campuses qualify for a different status. Please contact us for more information and to initiate the process.

Undergraduate students participating in RIPS: please see the RIPS web page for visa information, since special rules apply to your situation.

Undocumented aliens/DACA

Please contact us to discuss your situation.

If you have additional visa related questions, please email IPAM’s Visa Coordinator.

Reimbursement Process:

Reimbursements are based on offer letters unless alternate arrangements have been made and prior approval has been granted. Reimbursements will reflect actual costs and are reimbursed after trip completion. Information on UCLA policies on business travel can be found on their website at UCLA Travel Department.

Travel receipts, with proof of payment (ex. Paid VISA XXXX), should be submitted during your visit to IPAM. IPAM must submit receipts and documents to UCLA Travel Accounting within 45 days from completion of the trip. Receipts and documents must be submitted promptly. We will require justifications for late submissions. The reimbursement may be treated as imputed income and become taxable. Two additional forms will be required that request general information such as legal name, mailing address and immigration status, if applicable. There are currently two methods of payments available, Check or Zelle. Check payments will be sent via U.S. Postal Services to the mailing address provided. Zelle payments are the fastest way to receive reimbursements, we will require confirmation that your bank account is equipped to receive Zelle payments.

For international participants: Please confirm with your banking institute that they can process US dollar checks. If your banking institute confirms that they cannot deposit a US dollar check, please contact us right away for further consultation finance@ipam.ucla.edu.

After all relevant documents are received, they are reviewed and submitted to the UCLA Central Offices (Travel Accounting/Accounts Payable). Once received by the Central Offices, it will take approximately 21 business days for processing. Reimbursements may take longer for international participants. The process can be delayed if the documentation does not pass audit based on University and Federal Guidelines.

  • Air Travel

    The Federal Travel Regulation requires U.S. carriers except as authorized under the Open Skies Agreement. Travelers must purchase coach/economy or equivalent fares and are encouraged to take advantage of discounts on air tickets purchased in advance. Please email the IPAM Finance Department with questions.

    International Travel: In order to receive reimbursement for your airline ticket from IPAM funds, your flight must be in compliance with the Fly America Act and the Open Skies Agreement. Your trip must be ticketed by a U.S. airline or authorized under the Open Skies Agreement or we cannot reimburse you for the flight.

    Code Sharing: Code sharing occurs when two or more airlines “code” the same flight as if it was their own. For example, a U.S. airline may sell a seat on the plane of a foreign air carrier. The flight numbers must have the code from a U.S. airline (e.g., “UA” for United Airlines, “DL” for Delta, etc.). As long as the flight is ticketed by the U.S. carrier, it does not matter which airline operates the flight. The ticket or documentation for an electronic ticket must identify the U.S. carrier’s designator code and flight number.

    Please note – There are over 100 Open Skies Agreements, but only 4 meet Fly America conditions:

    • European Union (28 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Iceland and Norway)
    • Australia
    • Switzerland
    • Japan

    Common FAQs:

    • EU:  If you are traveling from the EU, you may use either a US carrier or an EU carrier as long as they land in an EU country.
    • CANADA:  Canada is not part of the Open Skies Agreement, so flights on Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines are unallowable on federal awards.

     What are the allowable exceptions under the Fly America Act?
    The exceptions are:

    1. When a U.S. air carrier is not available.
    2. When the use of a U.S. carrier would extend travel time by 24 hours or more.
    3. When a U.S. carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination. Specifically, the U.S. carrier:
      • Increases the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more.
      • Extends travel time by at least six hours or more.
      • Requires a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point.
    4. Short Distance Travel – When the flight time from origin to destination is less than 3 hours and the use of a U.S. flag carrier doubles the time en-route.
    5. When there is an applicable Open Skies Agreement in effect which the Department of Transportation states meets the requirements of the FAA.

    Travelers should check the GSA sites for the most up-to-date information.

    Please email the IPAM Finance Department with further questions.

  • Lodging

    Lodging expenses are reimbursed based on the amount actually incurred within the allowable amount stated in the invitation letter. Generally lodging is not reimbursable if the lodging site is within a 40-mile radius of the traveler’s residence or office.

    Hotels: We reimburse for room and tax charges only. For a list of local hotels and their rates, please visit IPAM Hotels. For participants not electing to stay at one of our designated hotels, IPAM covers up to $245.00 per night including taxes. For a five-day workshop, IPAM generally offers six nights of hotel expenses to funded participants. For international participants, staying in Los Angeles on a Saturday night will often reduce airfares. If this is the case, send an email to the IPAM Finance Department before your visit and explain the situation.

    Apartment Rental: Most Long Program participants arrange for a monthly apartment/housing rental. Generally we cannot process the reimbursement until after the first 30 days has elapsed; allow approximately 14 business days for processing after we receive all receipts. You can expect payment approximately 6 weeks after the day you arrive at IPAM. The final rent reimbursement payment will be mailed to the address you provide.

    For housing reimbursement, you must submit a copy of your rental agreement, along with a copy of your rental check or credit card statement. You must also include documentation of proof of payment – that is, proof that your rental check has been cashed. If you are given a paper receipt, the issuer should indicate the form of payment. A copy of the front and back of the check of the cancelled check is sufficient.

  • Other Travel

    Ground Transportation: For taxi, shuttle, train, bus, and all other ground transportation expenses, receipts are required. Travelers are required to use the most economical mode of transportation by the most frequently traveled route.

    Automobiles: Privately owned automobiles may be used if the driver has requisite insurance coverage. IPAM reimburses the lesser of round-trip air fare or mileage. When used on routes served by a common carrier, the amount of the actual mileage or the lowest available airfare, whichever is less, is allowed. The mileage reimbursement rate we offer conforms to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines.  No additional reimbursement for automobile-related expenses, such as tolls, ferries, parking, gasoline, etc. are allowed.

    Rental Car: IPAM does not reimburse for car rentals. An exception to this policy must be pre-approved by IPAM with appropriate justification.

  • Other Expenses

    Our website includes general information about common expenses; individual cases may include other reimbursable expenditures. Please contact the IPAM Finance Department with any questions or special circumstance.

    Non-Reimbursable Expenses: IPAM cannot reimburse participants for the following expenses.

    • Airfare issued by non-U.S. carrier except as authorized under the Open Skies Agreement
    • First class or business class airfare
    • 3rd party (e.g., buying ticket and paying hotel/air fare and other expenses on behalf of others)
    • Per diem and meals unless authorized in advance
    • Out-of-route costs involving personal business, leave or convenience. Where there is an interruption of travel or deviation from direct route, reimbursable expenses shall not exceed the cost that would have been incurred on a direct route to the destination
    • Expenses incurred when not conducting IPAM business, such as extra days taken as leave before or after scheduled business and personal telephone calls
    • Any other costs determined to be unreasonable or which are disallowed by Federal Travel Regulations or University guidelines

  • Stipends

    If you are a long program participant receiving a stipend, your paperwork will be processed once you arrive at IPAM. You can expect the first payment from 25-30 days after the paperwork is submitted to accounting. It is important that you have either a social security number or a tax ID number. Otherwise, an automatic 30% will be withheld from your stipends.

    If you are a non U.S. citizen, your taxes will be processed through a software program called Glacier, a nonresident tax compliance system that was adopted by UCLA. You must be on the appropriate visa to receive a stipend.