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Research at Boston College

Export Controls

office of the vice provost for research

Export Controls and Compliance

What are Export Controls

Export controls are U.S. laws and regulations governing the “export” of certain controlled technologies (equipment, software, information and services) to foreign nationals, foreign entities or foreign countries for reasons of national security and foreign policy.

In practice, these rules govern what research instruments, materials, software and technology that we, as a U.S. institution, can export (i.e. transfer) out of the country by any means; and what sensitive items and technology we can share with foreign national individuals (visa holders) studying, researching, working in, or visiting our facilities. These regulations also inform what research, academic, and business partners we engage with to the extent that we must avoid U.S. government-restricted or prohibited entities (entities of concern from a national security, export control or embargoed-country perspective).


Statement of Commitment

Boston College (BC) recognizes the importance of complying with all U.S. export control regulations and is committed to full compliance with these regulations.

Export Control compliance is an essential obligation for everyone in our community, and following the few simple steps outlined below will help ensure that the College and you, individually, are complying as fully as possible with these regulations.

Do not hesitate to seek guidance on an export control matter.

If you become aware of a potential export control problem, report it immediately to our Export Control Coordinator. The vast majority of export control violations are inadvertent: timely reporting a suspected problem is the best mitigation of an inadvertent violation.      


How are these regulations enforced?

U.S. Government export authorities (Departments of Commerce, State, and Treasury) strictly enforce export control through substantial civil and criminal penalties and sanctions, federal debarment and revocation of export privileges. Agencies have investigative and audit authority (facilitated through the Federal Bureau of investigation) and can mandate costly oversight protocols. In addition, because of the national security implications to export control, liability for violations can be enforced against an individual College employee to whom an intentional violation is attributable, separate from our institutional liability.


Are these Regulations in any way connected to recent Executive Orders targeting U.S. Immigration?

No: Federal Export Control requirements affecting higher educational research, academic and business programs have been applicable in various iterations for more than 50 years.


How do we address these requirements at BC?

1. Compliance Oversight: As designated by the University President, BC’s export compliance program is administered through its Vice Provost for Research/Academic Planning as well as the Executive Director for Research Administration. A designated Export Compliance Coordinator, supported by BC’s external export consultant, is responsible for facilitating export compliance across all export-sensitive research, academic and business activities.  

  • Among other key requirements, the Coordinator is responsible for the following:
  • Determining whether international shipments require an export license or meet a license exemption
  • Determining whether access to (or use of) export sensitive technology by foreign national (visa holder) researchers constitutes a “deemed” export, by virtue of that person’s country of citizenship and controls associated with that country
  • Selectively screening BC’s research, academic and business partners against the U.S. Government lists of restricted entities (as published it the Federal Register)
  • Responding to all faculty and staff inquiries concerning any export transaction
  • Facilitating our export training program, inclusive of all new BC employees             

In the event of a suspected compliance violation, The Export Compliance Coordinator is authorized to suspend any transaction leading to (or causing) such suspected violation and will coordinate investigative and remedial efforts with the Office of General Counsel. The Coordinator is supported by Export Liaisons designated from campus operational functions and export-sensitive research departments and centers; our external consultant also provides export compliance guidance and procedural support.  

2. Core operational/business functions: All key functions have been trained to implement their respective export compliance responsibilities, as follows:

  • Office of Sponsored Programs: identification and negotiation of restrictive (publication and citizenship) clauses in sponsored agreements; post contract/grant export compliance administration, including Technology Control Plans (TCPs) and export licenses; selectively screening research and contract partners against U.S. Government watch-lists  
  • Human Resources: coordinating the required export control certification process associated with H-1 and O-1 visa petitions
  • International Students: facilitating the export control evaluation process associated with J-1 and F-1 scientific researchers; identifying export control issues associated with travel authorizations; selectively screening visa candidates against restricted party watch-lists
  • International Programs: facilitating the export evaluation of BC’s international programs including Study Abroad
  • Procurement: proactively identifying export controlled items being purchased that may, in certain circumstances, trigger foreign national access and use restrictions; vendor screening
  • Property Management: tracking the location and relocation of export controlled items on campus
  • IT: developing data security protocols as required for export-sensitive projects, computing infrastructure, or in compliance with other federally-mandated contract provisions
  • Finance: ensuring that BC avoids payment transactions with U.S. Government-restricted parties and entities
  •  OTTL: review of industry contracts and proprietary agreements for export control implications; review of NDAs and MTAs which potentially convey, respectively, export controlled data and items; implementing safeguards associated with export controlled invention disclosures and ensuring that commercial licensees are screened against the lists of U.S. Government-restricted parties and entities

3. Research/Academic Faculty and Staff: here are 6 simple steps to follow in order to comply:   

  1. International Shipments: When shipping internationally, utilize BC’s on-line International Shipping Request Form [link to International Shipping Form], so that an export license determination can promptly occur; where needed, an export license can be obtained.

  2. Technology Sharing: When Procurement and/or the Export Compliance Coordinator identifies   items used in fundamental research (e.g. instruments, software, raw materials, and vendor or sponsor-provided proprietary technical data) that may be export controlled (even if the research itself is not otherwise publication or citizenship-restricted), the Coordinator will work with you to establish the process by which export controlled technology pertaining to such items may be shared with foreign national members of our community (visa holders studying, working, researching or visiting) for whom such technology is controlled by virtue of their country of citizenship, i.e. “deemed exports.” In rare cases, this process may involve obtaining an export license or establishing a Technology Control Plan (TCP).

  3. Visa Petitions: When hosting visa holders (J-1 visiting scholars, H-1 or O-1 employees, F-1 students assigned to research tasks) within export-sensitive science research environments, timely respond to the Export Control Evaluation Questionnaire issued by HR or International Students Personnel that enables us to determine whether there are deemed export issues associated with the foreign national’s research work.

  4. Hosting International Visitors: When planning to host a visiting international delegation, contact the Export Compliance Coordinator well in advance of such visit, so that we can screen such delegation (typically the home institution) against the U.S. Government watch lists to avoid engagement with restricted parties. 
  5. International Travel: When international travel involves the temporary or permanent transfer of research tools or samples (either by advance cargo shipment or through hand-carried baggage), contact the Export Compliance Coordinator for assistance in advance of travel to help us determine whether export authorizations are required.
  6. Engagement with Sanctioned Countries: When planning any engagement (whether research advisory or academic) with any person or entity located in one of the embargoed countries (Iran, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela), proactively contact the Export Compliance Coordinator who will assist you in complying with OFAC requirements.   


Where can I get trained on Export Controls? 

All faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to watch our 5 minute video on export compliance, as well as to read BC’s export reference and training materials. This web page also contains links to all key process flows, forms and checklists.


Who is the “Go-to” resource for help with Export Control?

Export Control Coordinator