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Division of International Services (DIS) - Request for Outside Activity

The information contained on this site is tailored to the requirements and needs of the NIH community. The following information should NOT be taken as legal advice or used as the sole source for making immigration-related decisions. If you are sponsored by NIH, contact the DIS prior to taking actions that may affect your immigration status.

Non-immigrant scientists at the NIH generally need advance approval to participate in outside activities. Outside activities are ones beyond their NIH research in the laboratory/branch, such as occasional lectures, short-term consultations, or other professional/trainee activities ( Advance approval from the Division of International Services (DIS) and other NIH offices is often necessary to ensure that both your U.S. immigration status and NIH policies allows the activity. However, there are certain activities that do not need advance approval.

* If you are unsure if your activity requires advance approval, please use the wizard below.
* If you know that your activity requires advance approval, complete the DIS form, "Approval for Outside Activity" (

Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the DIS ( at your earliest convenience.

The following are examples of volunteer activities that do not require DIS approval:
1. Act as a judge for a high-school science fair
2. Participate in a tree-planting ceremony or food drive
3. Volunteer for the Genome exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum or other festivals
4. Attend or present at a scientific meeting or conference.

Is your activity a community-based or volunteer-based activity?
Note: Community-based and volunteer-based activities are ones that are open to anyone and do not displace U.S. workers. In addition, they do not allow you to gain a particular benefit that assists your career (such as credit towards a medical license). Please review the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website ( that discusses what is considered a "true" volunteer activity.