Benefits and Other Considerations


Columbia University employees working internationally are vital to the university’s future growth and success everywhere they live and work.

Benefits (such as health insurance and retirement plans) generally continue for Columbia employees (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) who are assigned overseas, and who continue to be paid through the U.S. payroll.

Employees who are assigned overseas for six months or longer may be eligible to enroll in the Cigna International Medical Plan, which provides comprehensive health coverage overseas and in the U.S.  Please contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center at 212-851-7000 or if you believe you are eligible for this plan so that the appropriate enrollment can be completed prior to your departure.

Employees who go abroad for less than 6 months, and who are enrolled in a Columbia medical plan, are covered under that plan for emergency healthcare services only. If the service was an emergency, UnitedHealthcare will have the non-US claim processed by their international adjudicators, and if approved, will pay the benefits at the in-network rate.

Eligible employees can participte in the Columbia University Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan (VRSP).  Please click here for details.

It is important to consult with the Benefits Department when preparing for an individual’s assignment outside of the U.S. Columbia is required to ensure its benefit plans comply with U.S. laws and regulations, and with the benefit plan rules, which in some cases limit participation due to U.S. residency requirements.  An employee of an overseas entity will typically receive benefits offered by that entity and not by Columbia. These packages are designed to meet local needs and customs, and should be part of the initial budget planning.  Assignees are encourage to review their benefit plan coverage with the Benefits Department

Other considerations:

→ Employees should be advised that they may be required to file taxes in the location in which they are working and there will likely also be an impact on their tax requirements in the U.S. It is important that the employee understand and fulfill his or her tax requirements in the U.S. and abroad.

→ Faculty members ordinarily need approval from their Dean to work abroad for an extended period.


For additional details, please refer to the Policy on Faculty and Staff Working Overseas.

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