Foreign Influence Screening
During the 2021 Florida legislative session, House Bill 7017 (“HB 7017”) was passed and later signed into law by Governor DeSantis. The law modifies a variety of Florida Statutes to address concerns regarding improper foreign influence. With regard to employment at major research institutions like USF, the law requires thorough scrutiny of certain applicants for positions involving research.
Prior to interviews or offering employment, USF must screen applicants (both internal and external) for certain research-related positions (described below) who are either:
- Citizens of a foreign country and who are not permanent residents of the United States; or
- Who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States who have any affiliation with an institution or program, or at least one year of prior employment or training (excluding employment or training by an agency of the United States government) in a foreign country of concern, who are seeking the following positions:
- Employment in research or research-related support positions, including graduate (i.e. Graduate Assistantships) and undergraduate students seeking such positions; or
- Employment as a visiting researcher.
THE SCREENING PROCESS
To request a Foreign Influence Screening for an applicant, departments will need to submit a Department Request Form.
Tampa, St. Petersburg & Sarasota Campus Departments:
USF Health (Non-Faculty) Departments:
USF Health (Non-Faculty) Request to Initate Foreign Influence Screening
New applicants and returning employees will be required to complete a survey to determine if further screening is needed.
Exemption for Returning Employees
Foreign influence HireRight Background screening may not be necessary under the following circumstances:
- The individual has a prior successful Foreign Influence screening for their most recent position with the University and is returning to the University after a gap in employment of less than 120 days; or
- The individual has a successful Foreign Influence screening on file with the University within the past 120 days.
Risk-Based Determination Assessment
Some research-related positions may be exempt from the HireRight background check if the position does not involve STEM or Medical areas of research, AND the applicant does not have any known affiliation with a country of concern.
CHR will forward the candidate’s completed packet directly to Research Integrity & Compliance for review.
Additional Screening & HireRight Background Check
Central Human Resources initates the preliminary employment and education screening through HireRight.
HireRight will assist with the verification of employment and educational enrollment and to search public listings of persons subject to sanctions or restrictions.
Required documentation for candidates subject to HireRight background check & additional screening
- Complete copy of passport
- Copy of most recent Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- Complete resume and CV, including:
- Every institution of higher education attended
- All previous employment since the applicant’s 18th birthday
- NOTE: for applicants who have been continually employed or enrolled in a postsecondary education institution in the US for 20 years or more, the applicant may opt to include employment history for only the most recent 20 years;
- Prior Training (excluding undergraduate studies)
- A list of all published material for which the applicant received credit as an author, researcher, or otherwise to which the applicant contributed significant research, writing, or editorial support;
- A list of all current and pending research funding from any source, including the applicant’s role, funding source and amount, and brief description of the research;
- List and description of any non-university professional activities, including any affiliation with an institution or program in a foreign country of concern;
Research Integrity & Compliance
Once the University has received the above documents/information, USF's Research Integrity & Compliance must take reasonable steps, as described below, to verify all attendance, employment, publications, and contributions:
- Search public databases for research publications and presentations and public conflict of interest records to identify any research publication or presentation that may have been omitted from the application;
- Contact all employers of the most recent 10 years to verify employment;
- Contact all institutions of higher education attended to verify enrollment and educational progress;
- Search public listings of persons subject to sanctions or restrictions under federal law;
- Submit the applicant’s name and other identifying information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or any other federal agency willing to scrutinize the applicant for national security or counterespionage purposes.
The applicant’s cooperation with the screening process is necessary in order to timely complete the screenings and approve their application for further processing, and this might include the need to provide to the University (or any authorized vendor assisting with the screening) additional documentation/information necessary to verify the information submitted.
Depending on the results of the screening, a determination will be made as to whether the applicant may proceed in the recruitment process. If the applicant successfully completes the screening, the department may move forward with interviews and/or an employment offer. If it is determined that the applicant has not successfully completed the screening, either due to findings relating to potential foreign influence or a substantial failure to disclose information in the application, the applicant will be removed from the recruitment process. Research Integrity and Compliance will also make any appropriate disclosures to relevant federal agencies, as required.