- Global Campus
- Global Opportunities
- Global Impact
- Global Resources
- Global Activity Map
- Global News & Events
- Arrival and Transit
Arrival in the United States and Getting to Campus
Students and scholars coming to the United States in F or J status for the first time may not enter the country more than 30 days prior to the start date listed on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. Academic program start dates are established by the University and cannot be changed, so students and scholars are advised to plan their travel accordingly.
Students and scholars already in the United States in F or J status are not bound to the 30-day rule. However, an F-1 student transferring to Penn from another school in the U.S. must report to ISSS within 15 days of the program start date listed on Penn's I-20. Individuals in all other immigration categories should contact ISSS about how early they can arrive. Ideally one should plan to arrive in Philadelphia at least one week before beginning a program, preferably on weekday when Penn offices are open, in order to allow enough time to get settled and secure housing.
Note: Students should enter the United States only in immigration statuses that permit full-time study, namely F-1 or J-1. For example, full-time study is not permitted for those in the B-1/B-2 and WB/WT visa categories. It is strongly advised that one not attempt to change status from visitor to student while in the United States as it is both risky and time-consuming. click here
Before boarding an international flight, students and scholars should be sure to hand-carry their passports, immigration documents, and other supporting documentation so that they can be presented to an immigration officer upon arrival in the United States. At the Port of Entry, the admitting officer will inspect the documents and provide a US entry/admission stamp in their passport..
Once at Penn, all international students and scholars must bring their immigration documents and passports to ISSS for check-in and orientation. The US government requires that all students and scholars in F or J status register their presence at the University and present their documents within 30 days of the program start date. The 30-day time frame includes internal processing time at ISSS, so individuals should report to ISSS within 20 days from the program start date. Transfer students must register their presence within 15 days.
Individuals must appear in person at ISSS in order to meet this requirement. Failure to comply with the requirement will have serious consequences and may lead to a violation of immigration status. Registration is incorporated in the International Student Orientation sessions held at the beginning of the academic year. International scholar registration and orientation is held twice a week on Mondays and Fridays at 10:45 a.m. If you are a new employee in H-1B, E-3, O-1, or TN status, please meet with an ISSS advisor for new employee orientation.
From the Airport to the University of Pennsylvania Campus
The Philadelphia International Airport is the major airport closest to campus. Airport information centers in baggage claim areas provide details on the various ground transportation options.
It is also possible to fly to New York area airports (JFK International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, or Newark International Airport) and travel by train or bus to Philadelphia. However, travel to Philadelphia from the New York City area can be more expensive and time-consuming than direct arrival into Philadelphia, and can be very confusing to those unfamiliar with these cities.
Ground transportation options from the Philadelphia International Airport include the following:
- Taxi - The easiest way to travel from the airport to Penn is by taxi. Taxis are available 24 hours a day, from Zone 5 of the airport.
- Shuttle Services will take passengers from the airport to the University of Pennsylvania campus or Center City (downtown Philadelphia). Advance reservations for these shuttle services are not required. More information on shuttles such as Lady Liberty can be obtained from the Centralized Ground Transportation Counters in the baggage claim areas or the Ground Transportation Hotline at Philadelphia Airport (215-937-6958). The shuttle service operator will tell passengers when and where to meet the van.
- Train - The SEPTA Airport Line regional rail service runs from the airport to University City and also to 30th Street Station. From University City or 30th Street Station, one can then take a taxi to the final destination in Center City or University City. Taxis are plentiful at 30th Street Station.
Shuttles from other airports:
- Like at the Philadelphia airport, there are private shuttle companies such as Dave’s Best Limosine Service that provide door-to-door van transportation from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports to Philadelphia. Be sure to check the cost, travel time, and destination before using this method of transportation. The shuttle vans typically seat 8-12 persons and may have luggage restrictions.
Note: Unlicensed individuals may offer rides to Philadelphia for a low fee. Travelers are strongly cautioned against accepting such offers. Always make sure that the transportation arrangement is with a reputable company, i.e. one accessed from the airport transportation centers.
Common crimes, such as robbery and theft, are unfortunate aspects of today's society. While certain situations cannot be prevented no matter what precautions are taken, there are a few things one can do to decrease the chances of becoming a victim of crime in the United States.
- When traveling, do not carry or display large amounts of money or jewelry. Instead, carry traveler's checks, redeemable for cash at most banks and stores, or use major credit cards, such as VISA, Mastercard, and American Express.
- Be careful with personal belongings. Always keep money, jewelry, and valuable documents in your possession. Do not leave them in your luggage, in a storage locker, or in a locked car.
- Do not go out alone at night. If you must go out alone at night it is better to take a taxi to and from your destination. Penn Transit provides safe transportation services to members of the Penn Community.
- If approached by someone demanding your money, do not resist. It is better to lose your money than to risk your safety. In the case of such an incident, notify the police as soon as possible. Throughout the United States, the emergency number for the police, as well as the fire department and emergency medical service, is 911.
- Be careful when accepting help from strangers as they may not be trustworthy. Ask a police officer or other person in authority for information.
- Beware of "con artists," individuals who offer you money or the opportunity to make money in exchange for some small service or assistance from you.
- Identity theft has become a growing problem in the United States. It is important that you guard all personal identity documents such as your passport and visa, immigration documents, as well as credit card and bank account information. If you have a Social Security Number, you must also guard this information carefully. Before discarding unneeded documents, it is recommended that you shred any documents containing your personal information as well as any credit card solicitations you may receive in the mail. Finally, refrain from carrying your important personal documents unless absolutely necessary and keep these documents safely stored in your home or in a safe deposit box at a local bank.
Most new students and scholars will need to make arrangements for temporary accommodations for their first few days at Penn. Accommodations are in high demand in late August and early September each year, so it is advisable to reserve early. Temporary accommodations may be found at one of the places listed below or at one of the various bed and breakfast establishments in the area.
Office of Off-Campus Services
A University of Pennsylvania office that provides listings for temporary and permanent housing in the University City area
Children cannot be accommodated.
- Sheraton Hotel
- The Inn at Penn
Penn Tower Hotel
34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard
Housing for the Academic Year
Freshman year undergraduate students must live in University residences the first year. The great majority of other Penn students are able to choose where they want to live. Some students choose to live in University residences (on-campus); others choose to live in non-University affiliated housing located in the neighborhoods that surround the campus (off-campus). There are a variety of factors to consider when making the choice of where to live: proximity to campus, costs, security, personal and family lifestyles, and transportation. Both on-campus and off-campus housing can be difficult to obtain in the few days just before the beginning of the semester.
- Penn ResidentialServices website has information on on-campus housing
On-campus housing is limited and not always available. On-campus housing choices include single, double and triple rooms, as well as one to four bedroom apartments. Single students and married couples can be accommodated, unfortunately children cannot be accommodated. On-campus housing options include furnished residences close to campus in a reasonably secure environment. Individuals new to Philadelphia and the University often prefer to spend the first year in University housing. All rooms and apartments are furnished, but the occupant will have to provide sheets and towels and the necessary kitchen utensils. Prices vary according to the type of accommodation and are subject to yearly increases. Note that some buildings close during the University's winter break in December and January.
Applications for on-campus housing should be submitted well in advance of arrival at Penn. Housing cannot be assured without written notification from the Assignments Office. One must sign a lease agreement to obtain on-campus housing. Signing this agreement obligates the occupant to pay rent for the full term of the lease unless he or she withdraws from Penn. More information and on-campus housing applications can be obtained from Residential Services.
Within the University City area housing varies greatly in price, convenience, location, condition, and type of accommodation. In selecting off-campus housing, one must consider all these factors and be certain that the housing is secure. Prices in the Center City areas are typically higher than in West Philadelphia.
Sharing a house or apartment with other students or renting a room in a house are common ways of economizing on housing costs. Single rooms are sometimes furnished. Efficiency, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments include kitchen facilities but most often are not furnished. Tenants often assume responsibility for payment of all utilities (electricity, gas, phone) except water. Tenants must be prepared to pay three months of rent (security deposit, and first and last month's rent) when they sign leases for off-campus housing. The payment must be made by check or money order, not credit card. By signing a lease agreement, the tenant is obligated to pay rent for the full term of the lease, regardless of his or her academic status at Penn. Off-campus lease agreements typically cover periods of one year.
The University of Pennsylvania Office of Off-Campus Services can help both with housing searches and with understanding one’s rights and responsibilities as a tenant. This office can provide detailed information about where students live, prices per unit type and area, when to start a search and how to go about it.
Housing for international and American students and scholars is also available at the International House of Philadelphia. International House is considered off-campus housing but it is located within easy access to the University. International House is an independent, non-university facility that serves as a residence and programming center for the international community in Philadelphia. A variety of bedroom and apartment types are available, however, International House cannot accommodate children. Students and scholars who are not residents of International House can still participate in many of the activities, concerts, films, and lectures it sponsors.
- Office of Off-Campus Services
- Financial Matters
It is important that students and scholars plan their finances carefully and do not rely on earning a great deal of extra money after arrival in the United States. Employment in most non-immigrant visa categories is highly restricted by U.S. government regulations; therefore, new students and scholars should come prepared to meet all of their expenses. Moreover, financial assistance is usually not available to international students after arrival. With the exception of some undergraduate and Wharton MBA students, educational loans are generally not available for international students.
Another factor to consider in one’s financial planning is that federal, state, city, and/or social security taxes will be deducted from most US-source salaries, scholarships, and stipends. With tax deductions typically ranging from 14 to 30 percent of the total income, one’s available income may be significantly less than expected. The amount of tax deducted depends on the individual’s earnings, tax status and whether he or she is a beneficiary of a tax treaty. All individuals with US-source income are required to report their annual earnings to the Internal Revenue Service by April 15 of the following year. Anyone who has overpaid taxes during the year will receive a tax refund after filing the tax return. For more information on how University payments to foreign nationals are taxed, please see the Office of the Comptroller.
The financial demands on new students and scholars are typically highest at the beginning of the academic year because tuition, health insurance fees, and housing deposits are due at this time. Tuition must be paid in full unless one makes advance arrangements with the Office of Student Financial Services. Temporary accommodations, initial household expenses, cell phone, food, and books are other extra expenses to take into account. Thus, it is advisable to come prepared to cover all extra costs which will range from $2,000 to $5,000.
Students who have been awarded a University fellowship or assistantship that includes tuition will not receive their first living allowances until the end of the first month at the University. Tuition fees, however, will be handled by the University immediately. Therefore, students must have their own funds available to pay for food, housing, books, and supplies. If the fellowship does not specify that it covers the University General Fee, whose amount varies by school, the student will be responsible for paying the fee.
Currency Restrictions and Transfer of Funds to the United States
Some governments restrict the amount of money that can be taken out of the country. Others may restrict funds for students until an enrollment confirmation letter from the admitting US institution has been received. Before leaving home, it is advisable to determine whether any documents are required from the University in order to authorize the transfer of funds. In some cases ISSS can provide students the necessary documentation upon seeing proof of full-time student status.
One should be aware of the home country's requirements for exchanging money and the value of the home country currency in the United States. Travelers must declare currency amounts over $10,000 at US customs upon arrival. United States coins are different diameters and represent different proportions of one US dollar: penny (1/100th), nickel (1/20th), dime (1/10th), quarter (1/4), and dollar (1). American paper money is green and all bills are the same size. The following are common bill denominations: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.
It is recommended that one obtain a small amount of American currency in coins and bills before arriving in the United States to cover miscellaneous initial expenses such as cab fare and meals. Most major airports have banks available for currency exchange and automated teller machines (ATM’s) for those who decide to obtain US currency after arrival.
United States Banking Services
United States banking connections can be established before one leaves home. To transfer money to the United States, an individual can instruct the home bank to issue a foreign draft on a US bank in Philadelphia. This is preferable to presenting a draft on a bank in another US city such as New York. Clearance on drafts between banks in different parts of the United States can result in a delay of up to three weeks in making funds available. Because there are expenses which must be met immediately upon arrival, it is best to avoid such unnecessary delays. A few US banks have branches in foreign countries. These could be used if the US bank is located within the vicinity of Philadelphia. If not, all large US banks have what are called "correspondent" foreign banks with whom they have established financial connections. In most countries it is possible to find a bank that has correspondent relations with a US bank in Philadelphia. A transfer of money from one correspondent bank to another requires obtaining a draft from the home bank and presenting it, with personal identification, to the US bank. The US bank will then give credit in US dollars. Individuals may also request that their banks at home "wire" money to their US accounts.
It is recommended that all new students and scholars open an account at a local bank soon after arriving in Philadelphia. All banks have different charges and fees for services, such as ATM access, checking, and overdraft protection, so it is wise to investigate the terms and conditions of each bank and each account type before choosing. To open an account, one must present two forms of identification, such as a passport and a Penn Card. Some banks may require a Social Security number.
Checking and Savings Accounts
Having a checking account will assure safe and quick deposit of foreign checks and free the account holder from carrying large amounts of cash. Banks provide monthly and/or online records of individual transactions from the checking account, thus allowing easy tracking of one’s finances. Checks are typically used to pay monthly bills like rent, telephone, and electricity or certain retail purchases if accompanied by identification. Cashed checks are often returned to the account holder after they are cleared by the bank, and may serve as proof of payment. Some banks will post scanned copies of the cashed checks in the online account statement. It is a serious matter to write a check without having sufficient funds in the account. In addition to various fees the bank will charge, the individual may suffer serious financial consequences and may be subject to legal action.
Savings or investment accounts are used to hold money that won’t be used immediately. Such accounts bear interest which may be taxable. Some savings or investment accounts have penalties for withdrawing funds before a fixed amount of time elapses but many will allow holders to withdraw or transfer funds to other accounts at any time without penalty.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM)
Basic banking, such as deposits, transfers and withdrawals, is available 24 hours a day at computerized banking machines (ATM or MAC machines) at most banks. These machines can be found throughout the city. It is recommended to only use ATM’s located in safe and secure places indoors and to avoid making withdrawals after dark. Some banks charge a fee each for each ATM transaction.
Credit cards are used often in the United States but are sometimes difficult to obtain for international students and scholars who have not yet established good credit in this country. For this reason, some students and scholars choose to apply for credit cards in their home countries rather than in the United States.
Major credit cards in the United States are Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, but businesses do not always accept all cards. Credit cards issued by department stores or oil companies are usually easier to obtain and can be used to establish credit.
One should use caution in using credit cards as a means of postponing payment for purchases. Almost all credit cards charge interest, which may range from 12% to 22% per year. If a credit card is lost or stolen, it is important to file a report with the police and notify the company that issued the card immediately.
Expenses Often Overlooked
- Overnight lodging Hotel rates in big cities tend to be quite high.
- Tips on taxi fares and restaurant meals It is customary to add 15% to the bill.
- Winter clothing Warm clothing, including a heavy coat and boots, can cost more than $200.
- Deduction from assistantships and other awards for federal and state taxes Up to 30% will be deducted from some stipends by the federal and state governments.
- Personal and household items Cell phone service set-up fees and deposits will be high compared to the usual monthly costs of an already-established service. In furnished and unfurnished apartments, tenants have to provide linens, towels, kitchen utensils, etc.
- State and local sales taxes on goods or services Consumer taxes vary from state to state and range from 1% to 8% (in Philadelphia 7%).
- Security deposit When renting an apartment off-campus, the tenant has to pay three months' rent before moving into the apartment. Payments must be made by check or money order, not credit card.
- Health Care, Insurance, and Immunization
The cost of health care in the United States is very high and there is no national health plan. Nonresidents in the United States are not eligible for financial assistance from the US government or from the University to pay for medical bills. Therefore, the policies of the University of Pennsylvania require that all students and scholars and accompanying family members have adequate health insurance coverage. J-1 Exchange Visitors also have a health insurance requirement as one of the terms of compliance of their immigration status. Prior to departure, new students and scholars should also purchase travel insurance that will cover any medical expenses that may be incurred in route or in the early days of their stay in the United States. More information on the American health care system can be found in the International Student and Scholar Handbook.
Student Health Care and Insurance Requirements
The University of Pennsylvania's Student Health Services (SHS) provides outpatient care for all students on campus. All full-time students are required to carry coverage at the Student Health Service. Even those who do not subscribe to the Penn Student Insurance Plan will be automatically charged a SHS clinical fee each semester. Emergency and specialty care is provided by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Spouses and partners of students may use the services of Student Health on a fee-for-service basis. Young children are not treated at Student Health, however, care is available at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, located beside HUP.
The University requires that all full-time students obtain comprehensive health insurance coverage that meets certain standards. This will ensure that they are also covered for emergency care, hospitalization, or special services not covered by Student Health Services. The University sponsors a student plan which is strongly recommended. However, if an individual already has a plan that meets the requirements, he/she may submit a waiver. Please visit the Student Health Services Office of Student Insurance for details and review the list of considerations in choosing a health care policy. Basic dental care is also very expensive and is not covered by the sponsored plan. It is important to obtain coverage prior to arriving or contact Student Health Services for details on how to purchase the University's student dental plan.
All new students at the University of Pennsylvania are required to show that they have been fully immunized against several diseases. Students are required to submit their immunization records on a secure web site and then verify this information by mailing or faxing SHS a copy of their immunization records. It is suggested that all new students bring copies of immunization records to Penn in case they fail to reach SHS by mail or fax. In order to access the web site the student will need to have a PennKey. For more information on immunization requirements, click here.
Scholar Health Care and Insurance Requirements
Scholars with salaried appointments at the University should contact their academic departments to determine what arrangements, if any, have been made for health insurance. Scholars who do not receive a salary from the University of Pennsylvania can obtain information on medical insurance provided by companies that specialize in protecting international visitors on educational exchange programs from ISSS. ISSS cannot advise about health insurance policies but can provide brochures and contact information. Scholars who purchase insurance policies in the home country to cover a stay in the United States, or those are sponsored by an organization that is providing health insurance, should make certain that their coverage meets the minimum requirements described below. All scholars with health insurance not covered by the University should bring documents describing their coverage and claims procedures.
The US Department of State (DOS) federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage. Each J-1 scholar must purchase insurance for him/herself and his/her J-2 dependents immediately upon arrival to the US. If he/she and/or dependents fail to maintain the mandatory health insurance coverage, they will be in violation of federal immigration regulations, will be subject to termination as a program participant, and must leave the US immediately.
Insurance coverage must meet the following:
- Medical insurance must cover the entire period of participation in the Exchange Visitor program.
- Medical benefits must provide a minimum of $50,000 per accident or illness.
- Medical evacuation must be covered in the amount of $10,000, minimum (emergency medical transportation to the home country).
- Repatriation must be covered in the amount of $7,500, minimum (in the unfortunate event of death, repatriation is the transportation of remains back to the home country).
- Deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness.
All University employee health insurance policies and all policies available through ISSS meet or exceed these requirements. Please note that government regulations state that willful failure to comply with these insurance requirements will result in termination of the Exchange Visitor's Program.
Choosing a Health Care Policy
The costs of medical insurance vary according to the type of coverage provided and whether coverage for dependents is requested. Dental care is generally not included in a medical insurance plan, nor are prescriptions, eye examinations or eyeglasses. Individuals may choose to purchase additional coverage for dental care and vision.
When choosing health insurance, it is important to understand the insurance policy on the following points:
- Does it cover medical expenses incurred in the US?
- Does it pay all or nearly all medical costs? Many plans will require the policy holder to pay a percentage of the costs, referred to as "co-payment."
- Does it have a "cap," meaning a limit to total payments or payments per day or per year?
- Does it have a "deductible," meaning the amount that the policy holder must pay before the insurance starts paying?
- Does it exclude "pre-existing conditions"? Some insurance policies will not cover medical care expenses for medical conditions that you had before getting the insurance. Pregnancy is often viewed as a pre-existing condition.
- Does it have maternity coverage? If so, what kind?
- Does it cover accompanying family members?
- Does it remain in effect during the individual’s entire stay in the United States?
- Does the company provide a policy identification card that one can carry as proof of insurance?
- How does the insurance company's payment system work?
Information on health insurance companies and policy options can be found below.
Compass Benefits Group
Medical insurance for International Student and Scholars
Medical insurance for International Students and Scholars
T.W. Lord & Associates
Medical insurance for International Students and Scholars
25 Dodd St. P.O. Box 1185
Marietta, GA 30061
Telephone: 1-800-633-2360 or 1-770-427-2461
The Harbour Group
International Student and Scholar Medical Insurance
- General Preparation
Penn Clubs and Organizations
There are over 120 countries represented in the student and scholar population at Penn. Many nationality groups have active clubs and sponsor events and activities throughout the academic year. Many of these groups actively recruit incoming international students in the months prior to and at the start of each academic year. Some of the student clubs also provide assistance to those international students arriving at Penn for the first time. Such assistance might include airport pick-up, temporary housing, or even suggestions on what items to bring from home, e.g. cooking equipment that is hard to find in the United States.
The Penn clubs and associations are also a resource for understanding the customs and culture of the United States. New students and scholars may benefit from talking with persons in their home countries who have lived or studied in the United States. Another way to begin to understand the customs and culture of the United States is to gather information from the closest US Embassy or Information Service. More information on US customs and culture can be found in the International Student and Scholar Handbook.
For a list of international student groups and contact information please refer to the Office of Student Affairs and GAPSA.
Climate and Clothing
The weather in the Philadelphia area is variable: very cold winters, hot summers, and pleasant days in between. The temperature frequently drops to 30°F (-7°C) or lower in winter and rises to 90°F (32°C) or higher with high humidity in summer. Warm clothing, an overcoat and boots are needed during the winter months (November-March). Clothing for rainy weather is also needed.
Most students do not dress formally for class except on special occasions. On campus and in the classroom, informal attire such as t-shirts, jeans, slacks, and shirts are acceptable for women as well as men. Several clothing stores are located right next to the Penn campus; many more clothing stores are also a short commute away from campus by bus or subway. One might find it helpful to bring national costumes to wear to certain campus events and international celebrations or to speaking engagements around the city.
Some students may receive material on course registration from their admitting school or department before their departure, while others may not. Not receiving these materials before arrival in the United States is no cause for concern as Penn's computerized registration system, Penn InTouch, will be available to all students once they are on campus. In addition, registration forms will be available from the student’s school or graduate department. It is recommended that students consult academic advisors in their departments or schools before choosing courses for the semester. After registration, there is a period of a few weeks called "drop/add period" during which students can use Penn InTouch to alter their class schedules if necessary. Please see the University Calendar for more information.
US immigration regulations require that F-1 and J-1 students maintain full-time status at all times. This means that students must be enrolled for a minimum of four courses per semester at the undergraduate level. Full time enrollment at the graduate level is determined by the individual department or program. This usually means a minimum of 3 courses each semester; however, in some schools four courses or more each semester is considered to be the minimum full-time enrollment. Students should consult their academic departments for specific requirements.
In addition to registering for classes before arrival at Penn, students may also have access to Penn's online new student service, Campus Express. Campus Express allows students to confirm on-campus housing, choose their meal plans, purchase new computers, apply for a PennPass or parking permits, sign up for Penn email, and more.
- Pre-departure Checklist
- Have you received your I-20 or DS-2019 and obtained your F-1 or J-1 student entry visa?
- Have you signed your I-20 or DS-2019?
- Have you made arrangements for temporary accommodations and housing at the University?
- Have you arranged your travel plans so that you will arrive in Philadelphia early enough to get settled before classes begin and attend the ISSS orientation program for new international students?
- Do you have a small amount of US currency to cover the initial expenses of your arrival, e.g. bus and taxi fares, meals, etc.?
- Do you have enough traveler's checks in US dollars to cover the expenses of settling into an apartment in Philadelphia, i.e. temporary housing, deposit on an apartment, telephone service, etc.? If you are bringing a large sum of cash to the United States, make sure you declare it on your customs form if it exceeds the limit allowed; otherwise, the Customs officials have the right to confiscate the money and charge a fee. For more information, inquire with your travel agency or airline company.
- Do you have traveler's insurance to cover medical emergencies?
- Have you budgeted for the expense of health insurance, including coverage for your family if they are accompanying you?
- If necessary, have you made arrangements for transferring money to the US? Do you know what documents are required? What are the restrictions on the transfer of funds to the US? How much lead time is necessary?
- Have you packed a variety of clothes to keep you warm and cool during Philadelphia's changing seasons?
- Have you packed all sharp objects, e.g. pocket knives, scissors, etc, in your luggage and not in your carry-on bag? If not, they will be confiscated at the airport.
- Are planning to drive in the United States? If so, consider obtaining an International Driver's License from your home country. If your immigration documents are not valid for at least 1-year at time of applying for a PA Driver's License, you will not be eligible to obtain one.