Leave Without Pay
Leave Without Pay (LWOP) occurs when a NIH Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employee is granted a temporary absence from duty in non-pay status by their Leave Approving Official.
Notify DIS if any foreign national scientist in your Institute/Center (IC) has upcoming or tentative LWOP planned. DIS must ensure that the scientist maintains their immigration status and complies with NIH policy. DIS is likely to issue a new Notice of Action (NOA) at the beginning of LWOP and then another NOA upon their return to duty.
For more information on LWOP, refer to the NIH Human Resources webpage.
Absence Without Stipend
Absence Without Stipend (AWOS) occurs when a Non-FTE scientist is granted a temporary absence from the lab without a stipend. Pre-approval is required from the Institute/Center (IC) Scientific Director, Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR), and DIS.
Notify DIS if any foreign national scientist in your IC has upcoming or tentative AWOS planned. DIS must ensure that the scientist maintains their immigration status and complies with NIH policy. All J-1 Exchange Visitor scientists and their J-2 dependents must maintain adequate health insurance throughout their time in J-1 or J-2 status, even while abroad.
For guidance on Visiting Fellows on AWOS who have a FAES health insurance plan, refer to the AWOS section of the NIH Visiting Fellow Program Manual Chapter. Please contact FAES with any further questions.
Common Causes of AWOS/LWOP
Visa Delay Overseas: When traveling abroad, foreign nationals are occasionally unable to re-enter the United States due to delays in visa issuance. Notify DIS if the individual exceeds his or her leave and AWOS or LWOP become necessary. Note that DIS is not involved in visa issuance and cannot expedite the process.
Waiting for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD): If a scientist has work authorization pursuant to an EAD, their research program may be extended based on the receipt notice of a timely filed EAD extension application. To avoid program gaps before the renewed EAD arrives, instruct scientists to give DIS a copy of their receipt notice as soon as possible. Certain EAD types, including those for J-2 dependents, require the actual EAD for any work authorization extension. In these cases, pay and benefits resume after the scientist receives the EAD.
Extended Medical Leave: Notify DIS if a foreign national scientist will be away on planned or unplanned medical leave, such as maternity leave, particularly if the extended leave will cause a LWOP or AWOS situation. Additional DIS actions may be required, depending on the situation.