Penn Admission Office Responsibilities

  • Please see the listing of estimated funding requirement at  this link.
  • Please contact ISSS if there is a new program or an existing program that starts to admit international students. Please see the current ISSS program codes at this page.  Please hold admitting international students until you complete Student Program Questionnaire form and the program update/additions are approved by Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • Send admission letter to the student
  • Assign 9-digit Admission ID if the student does not have US Social Security Number. The admission ID should match SRS record ID. The admission Office also provides the new student with the 9-digit admission ID.
  • Upload admission list through iPenn. 
  • For students who never attended before, iPenn will automatically send an email with login instructions.  For returning or continuing students, please be sure to notify the student to log into iPenn.  Click for sample login instructions.  
  • Provide ISSS with estimated financial tuition and fee figures each year before the first I-20/DS-2019 is issued for new admission season.
    • New estimated financial figures, for one academic year or for the period of study if less than a year, are required in order to post in iPenn for the international students to prepare for the financial certification documents.
    • ISSS will start to collect new financial figures from Penn's admission or financial offices in December.
    • The estimated expenses are provided to ISSS before the actual figures are confirmed by the Trustees of the University in late March or early April. The estimated funding requirement will be printed on the student’s I-20/DS-2019. It is possible that the actual figures will be slightly different, but the discrepancies will not affect student’s visa application.

Annual Admission Meeting

ISSS hosts information meetings for Penn's Admission Offices each year. The invitation emails will be sent out at least one month early. The meetings will provide information on the I-20/DS-2019 application process and any immigration regulatory updates that may affect student visa. It also identifies how ISSS and Penn's Admission Offices work together to facilitate the arrival of new international students at Penn. Please email to with a subject line “Annual Admission Meeting” if you have any questions.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
    1. What should the Admission Office do if we have a new or amended program to be available for international students?
    2. How can I gain access to the ISSS international student database (iPenn) to add new student records?
    3. What do I do if my attempts to mass upload a CSV file in iPenn fails?
    4. What can I do if the student cannot login to iPenn?
    5. How will students be notified with instructions about how to apply for the I-20 or DS-2019?
    6. What’s the difference between F-1 and J-1 status?
    7. How long does it take to process an I-20 or DS-2019 application?
    8. Can an international student already in the U.S. transfer their F-1 or J-1 record to Penn?
    9. How can a returning student apply for an I-20 or DS-2019?
    10. Does an international student currently studying at Penn and admitted to a new program need to apply for a new I-20 or DS-2019?
    11. How can the student pay the SEVIS fee?
    12. How soon can an F-1 or J-1 student enter the U.S.?
    13. How many credits must an international student enroll in per semester to maintain full time status?
    14. Do international students have to study during the summer session?
    15. What do I need to do if the student cannot make it to Penn on time because of visa delay or other reasons?
    16. Can international students work on Penn’s campus?
    17. How to help the student to apply for Social Security Number card?



    1. What should the Admissions Office do if we have a new or amended program to be available for international students?

    Please send an email to isss@pobox.upenn.edu with the following information:

    • Program name
    • Department name
    • Administrator name
    • Administrator email

    You will then receive an email from our IT staff containing an individual link to submit the online program questionnaire for this new or amended program.  After submitting the program questionnaire you will be able to review the status online.  Only after receiving approval notification from ISSSS, you can start to admit the international students into the program.


    2. How can I gain access to the ISSS international student database (iPenn) to add new student records?

    If you have never uploaded to the iPenn system you will need to attend a brief training session with an ISSS International Student Specialist.  After the training you will have access to log into iPenn.

    Once you have access, you can visit https://www.ipenn.oip.upenn.edu/ and click on the link “Administrative Services for University Departments.”  After logging in with your PennKey choose “Admission Office Use” from the collapsible menu on the left side of the screen.  From the menu select “Individual Entry” or “Mass Upload File” to upload new student records.


    3. What do I do if my attempts to mass upload a CSV file in iPenn fails?

    1. Please check if there is an old SRS record for this student.   If yes, please use old SRS record ID as 9 digit admission ID.   If the student provides social security number (SSN) which is not old SRS record ID, please contact school registrar to change old SRS record to be SSN before using SSN as 9 digit admission ID.  
    2. Please check the program start date to make sure it is a future date.
    3. Please see if the birth date is in the correct format (MM/DD/YYYY)

    If a required cell in the CSV worksheet is left blank, or if the format or value of the cell is incorrect, the upload attempt will produce an error indicating which column or row has the missing or incorrect information.  If you believe you are doing the upload correct but are still getting errors please send the error message to ISSS at isss@pobox.upenn.edu.


    4. What can I do if the student cannot login to iPenn?

    It may be that the student is entering their Social Security number or 9-digit admission ID with dashes (XXX-XX-XXX).  The admission ID should contain no dashes.  In some cases the record uploaded to iPenn did not contain the correct date of birth or correct format (MM/DD/YYYY), which will prevent the student from logging in when entering their correct date of birth.  If all of the student’s login information is correct and they are still having trouble with the login they should contact ISSS with subject line “iPenn Login Problem” at isss@pobox.upenn.edu.


    5. How will students be notified with instructions about how to apply for the I-20 or DS-2019?

    Once a record is uploaded in iPenn, the student will receive an automatic email that provides information about where and how to apply for the I-20 or DS-2019.  An example of the login instructions can be seen here.


    6. What’s the difference between F-1 and J-1 status?

    See the link “F-1 versus J-1” at http://global.upenn.edu/isss/admitting to see who is eligible for an F-1 and/or J-1 visa status.  Note: students whose curriculum includes patient/clinical components are not eligible for J-1 status.


    7. How long does it take to process an I-20 or DS-2019 application?

    The I-20/DS-2019 usually is processed on a first come first served basis.  The cases may be bumped up because of early program start date, urgent visa requirement, immediate travel plan, etc.  During the peak time from April to early June, it’s possible that the processing time may take up to 3 weeks.  The application may be pending for

    1. Waiting for student’s financial certification documents to prove the funding
    2. Waiting for student’s passport copy or immigration documents (for transfer student)
    3. Waiting for department to finalize the student’s program dates, the major or other admission information
    4. Waiting for the updated SRS record for returning students
    5. Waiting for SEVIS record to be released from previous school or institution for transfer student
    6. Waiting for OPT end date for change level student

    8. Can an international student already in the U.S. transfer their F-1 or J-1 record to Penn?

    To complete the SEVIS transfer procedure:

    (1) You must contact your current school International Student Advisor to arrange to transfer your SEVIS record to the University of Pennsylvania. You may use this SEVIS transfer form if your current school requires it.

    (2) Complete this online application and upload your financial documentation and current immigration documents (passport, I-20 or DS-2019, visa and front and back of I-94 if (if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport (if issued electronic I-94)).

    (3) ISSS will create an I-20 or DS-2019 for you once we receive this online application and once the transfer release date issued by your current school has been reached.

    (4) After you arrive on campus, you must attend ISSS international student orientation within 15 days of your program start date as listed on your Penn-issued I-20 or DS-2019. Failure to complete the transfer process as described will jeopardize your immigration status in the U.S.

    Attention International Student Advisor (DSO/ARO):  In SEVIS, our school name appears as “University of Pennsylvania”.  Our SEVIS F-1 school code is PHI214F00151000 (Campus name: University of Pennsylvania) and our J-1 program number is P-1-00183.

    Attention Current F-1 or J-1 Students at Another U.S. Institution
    The University of Pennsylvania does not issue F-1 I-20s or J-1 DS-2019s for all programs. Please review the list of programs here.


    9. How can a returning student apply for an I-20 or DS-2019?

    The student can log in to iPenn by going here https://www.ipenn.oip.upenn.edu/.  They will use their PennKey to login.  Instructions about the application process can be found here.  Please encourage the student to request a new I-20/DS-2019 from ISSS 3-4 months before returning.  The student will need to obtain permission to return and have the Penn Student Records System (SRS) record updated by the academic department before returning to Penn.


    10. Does an international student currently studying at Penn and admitted to a new program need to apply for a new I-20 or DS-2019?

    Yes, the student will need an updated I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect the program change.  If the new program will start after the current program finishes, the student will use Pennkey to log into iPenn to request a change of education level I-20 or DS-2019.

    If the student is concurrently admitted into both programs at the same educational level, and need additional time to finish both programs, the student may apply for program extension.  Please refer students to review program extension application request here.


    11. How can the student pay the SEVIS fee?

    The student can pay the SEVIS fee at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/.  The current one-time fee for F-1 students is $200 and J-1 is $180.  Dependents don't need to pay SEVIS fee.


    12. How soon can an F-1 or J-1 student enter the U.S.?

    Students entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status for the first time may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019. For transfer and change of level students, they do not have this 30 day limitation.


    13. How many credits must an international student enroll in per semester to maintain full time status?

    Undergraduate level students must be enrolled in a minimum of 4 credit units per semester and Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 3 credit units per semester.  If a student is under enrolled in their last semester before graduation, or other circumstances keep them from enrolling full time, they will need to request a Reduced Course Load authorization (http://global.upenn.edu/isss/rcl). 


    14. Do international students have to study during the summer session?

    Students enrolled full time during the Spring and Fall semesters do not have to study during the Summer session to maintain their F-1 or J-1 status.  However, if a student is beginning their program or completing their program during the Summer session the student must be enrolled full-time.


    15. What do I need to do if the student cannot make it to Penn on time because of visa delay or other reasons?

    Please have the student contact ISSS at isss@pobox.upenn.edu.  We will contact the student and track the details of their visa delay.  ISSS cannot expedite visa delay cases.  However, we can inquire about the case with the Department of State if the delay is pending more than 30 days. 

    The department or admission office should inform the student and ISSS the definite date by which the student should be arriving at Penn to be able to enroll FULL TIME.  The student’s initial SEVIS record will be remain valid for 30 days  (15 days for transfer student) from the I-20/DS-2019 program start date.  Please consider deferring the admissions to next semester if the student is not able to physically attend classes and enroll full time. 


    16. Can international students work on Penn’s campus?

    Yes, they can work on campus a maximum of 20 hours per week during the semester.  For more information please see these instructions for F-1 http://global.upenn.edu/isss/f1employment and J-1 http://global.upenn.edu/isss/j1employment.


    17. How to help the student to apply for Social Security Number card?

    Please see SSN application detailed instruction at http://global.upenn.edu/isss/ssn