Travel and Professional Development During Appointment

The ORAU Travel Central website provides information about how to successfully submit travel requests and travel expense reports for reimbursement. In addition, find information about travel guidelines, useful links, required forms and an FAQ section that provides answers to common questions about travel.

Visit the Travel Central website

The NPP Fellowship appointment provides $10,000 per appointment year for professional development (subject to prorating), including meeting and conference participation. The primary purpose of attending conferences and professional meetings is to present the results of the Fellow’s NPP research through a poster or paper or by making an oral presentation.

If the Fellow combines personal travel days with business travel (i.e., travel in support of the NPP research), the number of personal travel days cannot exceed the number of business travel days. In addition, at the time of booking, a cost comparison must be obtained of the estimated expenses for the business-only travel versus the business-personal travel. The cost comparison must be attached to the fellow's travel report. If the addition of personal travel increases the overall cost of the trip, the Fellow will be responsible for paying the difference. If a dated simulation is not provided with the expense report, the cost of the airfare will be split between ORAU and the fellow based on the number of business and personal days. For example, total number of travel days 10 | Business days 7 | Personal days 3; the program would pay/reimburse 70% of the airfare cost and the participant would pay for the remaining 30%. For clarification on counting business days vs. personal days for a particular trip, please contact

Travel funds may be used for the following:

  • Travel to field sites, observatories, or other facilities to collect samples or research-related data or to network/collaborate with experts in the Fellow’s research area
  • Required training (including registration fees) related to the research
  • Other types of training that may be mandated by the hosting organization
  • Payment of membership fees in professional societies
  • Payment for publication charges or abstract fees
  • Printing or laminating posters or handouts
  • Research-related or other types of personal professional development training or experiences

Travel funds cannot be used for the following:

  • Purchase of equipment
  • Purchase of other materials and supplies

Any books, workbooks, software, equipment, or other materials required for training or other professional development that are not included in the registration or course type fee, normally must be provided by the NPP Advisor. Any unallowable expenses that may be necessary to accomplish the purpose of the professional travel or other professional development normally must be covered by the NPP Advisor or the host institution.

ORAU provides an online travel system that the Fellow must use to request the following:

  • Authorization for travel arrangements related to research, and
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses.

The Fellow must complete a travel request that includes all destinations, dates, and justifications for travel and provides estimated costs of all expenses that may be incurred. Personal travel dates and destinations must be included on the travel request. ORAU will contact the NPP advisor and NPP Center representative for their approval prior to travel. ORAU requires at least three (3) weeks in advance of domestic travel and six (6) weeks in advance for foreign travel. The Fellow will be notified electronically when ORAU has approved the travel request. Once the electronic notification is received, the Fellow is approved to travel.

In order to receive reimbursement for travel expenses, the Fellow must complete an electronic expense report and upload copies of all receipts within five (5) days of travel conclusion. Receipts must include the Fellow’s name, date, and amount of the expense and must indicate that full payment has been made. Credit card statements are not acceptable in lieu of original receipts. Reimbursement of all travel expenses will be based on the federal travel regulations and the ORAU’s travel guidelines.

All personal travel must be pre-approved by the NPP advisor and NPP Center representative at the assigned facility. The NPP Center representative must notify ORAU of any personal travel that will result in an unpaid absence from the Center at least two weeks in advance of the Fellow’s departure date. In case of unexpected emergencies that necessitate sudden travel, the Fellow should notify their advisor, Center representative and ORAU as soon as possible.

Foreign Travel Reports

All NPP Fellows (U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens) engaged in programmatic travel outside of the United States during the appointment period must complete and submit a foreign travel report for each international trip no later than 30 days after the conclusion of travel.

Visa Documents for Travel Outside the United States

In addition to a valid passport, travel outside the United States may require a travel Visa for the country the Fellow will be visiting. The Fellow must allow enough time before travel to obtain the appropriate Visa.

Non-U.S. Citizens and Travel Outside the United States

If the Fellow is a non-U.S. citizen planning to travel outside the United States, he/she must have the following documents to re-enter the United States:

  • Valid passport containing a valid United States J-1 entry Visa;
  • DS-2019 forms, endorsed for travel by an ORAU responsible officer (or alternate);
  • Letter from ORAU, signed by an ORAU responsible officer (or alternate), stating that the Fellow is in good standing in the program.

Travel Notes

  • Foreign visitors entering the United States are entered into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Non Immigrant Information System (NIIS) by a CBP Officer at the port of entry. Arrival and departure information records of nonimmigrant aliens entering and departing the United States are maintained in the CBP's NIIS. If you want more information or to print your I-94 date record, please visit the Customs and Border Protection's/I-94 website.
  • If the Fellow’s J-1 entry Visa in his/her passport has expired at the time of travel abroad, the Fellow must obtain a new Visa at a United States embassy or consulate in the country visited. Recently, security checks for all Visa applicants have caused delays in Visa issuance of up to three (3) months.
  • Visitors to Canada, Mexico, or parts of the Caribbean, who will be there for less than 30 days, are exempt from this requirement and may return to the United States, as long as they hold valid documentation.  
  • Citizens from certain countries may be subject to additional security checks before a new Visa can be granted. Allow adequate time for this process to take place. Travel day(s) to obtain a new J-1 entry Visa (travel Visa) are considered personal days; therefore, associated lodging, per diem, and other expenses are not reimbursable.
  • If the Fellow’s J-2 spouse or family travels, they must also have travel endorsement on their DS-2019 forms and a letter from ORAU in order to be re-admitted in J-2 status.