Paying Independent Contractors & Guests

LAST UPDATED: April 19, 2018

What You Should Know

This webpage is your one-stop resource for the tools and information needed to hire and pay an independent contractor, a limited engagement, or an honorarium.

Departments often engage the services of individuals who are not employees of the University, including independent contractors, guest lecturers, entertainers, and others. To remain compliant with state and federal Departments of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it is necessary to correctly classify a worker either as an independent contractor or employee.

Employees are not considered independent contractors. Employees are hired through Human Resources or the Office of the Dean of Faculty, and paid through the Payroll function.

Independent Contractors

When engaging independent contractors, various insurance requirements, government regulations, and University policy must be followed. Please see the Independent Contractor Policy, which details the criteria that defines an independent contractor, and follow the required procedure for appropriate payment according to the IRS regulations.

We have simplified the documentation requirements and payment process for two low-risk categories of independent contractor who meet the following limited engagement or honoraria criteria.

Limited engagement criteria:

  • payment of $5,000 or less
  • service may be provided only one (or one time per year)

Examples of limited engagements:

  • Academic guest speakers, guest artists or special lecturers 
  • Distinguished guest speakers at University functions 
  • Short-term professional publication manuscript reviewers or editors 
  • Non-recurring seminar or workshop leaders

A limited engagement does not require the completion of the Service Provider Questionnaire, Independent Contractor Checklist, or Independent Contractor Agreement. Instead, one of these forms must be completed: Limited Engagement Agreement (for U.S. citizens) or Limited Engagement Agreement (for Foreign Nationals). However, professional entertainers and artists hired to create works for the University are not eligible for the limited engagement exception.

Honorarium criteria:

  • payment of $2,500 or less
  • service must be related to usual academic activity

Please see the Independent Contractor Policy, which lists the criteria for classifying independent contractors, including limited engagements and honoraria.

Foreign Nationals

When paying a foreign national independent contractor for any service, limited engagement, or honorarium, please keep in mind that international payments are complex in nature and additional documentation may be required. Please refer to these instructions for Payments to Foreign National Guests, Speakers, & Entities for more information.

Resource Library

Independent Contractors Policy


Independent Contractor:
Independent Contractor Agreement
W-9 or W-8 (Foreign National)

Limited Engagement:
Limited Engagement Agreement – U.S. service provider or Limited Engagement Agreement – Foreign National service provider (Nonresident Alien)
W-9 or W-8 (Foreign National)

Honorarium Acceptance Form

Related Policies:
In addition to the independent contractor information above, you may wish to refer to these related policies:

Policy on Undergraduate Internships and Employment – Office of the Dean of the College
How to Pay Undergraduate Interns

Temporary Employees Policy – Office of Human Resources



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