Guidelines for Hiring Foreign Nationals: Faculty, Researchers, Staff, and Students

The University of Pennsylvania hosts foreign nationals in many of the following categories.  These guidelines have been developed to assist the Penn hiring departments in determining which immigration status is most appropriate and advantageous.

Points to consider include:

  • whether the person is to receive compensation of any sort from the University
  • the length of stay
  • the future plans of both the individual and the hiring department

For more details, refer to the individual section of the ISSS website or contact ISSS.

The following are the nonimmigrant classifications used by foreign nationals at Penn:

  • B-1 Visitor for Business or B-2 Visitor for Pleasure (Tourist)
    • Not for employment of any kind
    • B-1 Visitors may be reimbursed for travel expenses. B-2 Visitors may receive reimbursements for travel expenses only if incidental honorarium  
    • If certain conditions are met, may receive an honorarium
    • Visa must be obtained from US Consulate abroad (except for Canadian citizens) to enter US
    • Letter of invitation may be helpful in obtaining visa and/or explaining purpose of trip
    • May enter the US for short periods of time (usually less than three to six months)
    • Should have a nonrefundable round trip ticket
    • Should have documentation of funds to support expenses
  • H-1B Specialty Workers
    • Employment restricted to the petitioning employer under the terms and conditions of the approved H-1B
    • Consult ISSS prior to any changes in H-1B employment at the University of Pennsylvania
    • Must meet wage requirements as set by Department of Labor regulations
    • Must obtain H-1B visa abroad to enter US (except for Canadian citizens), or obtain approval from USCIS to change status to H-1B from within the US
    • H-1B status is initially granted for a maximum period of three years and can be extended for a total of six years (regardless of the number of employers) May be reimbursed for expenses
    • May receive honoraria, stipend, or salary only from the University of Pennsylvania for H-1B authorized activities
    • H-4 dependents of H-1B temporary workers may not work
  • J-1 Visiting Scholars
    • Available to visiting scholars, such as visiting professors, visiting researchers, postdoctoral fellows, etc.
    • Cannot be used for a tenure-track or tenured faculty position
    • Cannot be used for a staff position
    • Must obtain a Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) issued by ISSS or outside sponsoring organization, e.g. Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES)
    • Must obtain a J-1 visa at US Consulate abroad to enter US (except for Canadian citizens), or obtain approval from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change status to J-1 from within the US
    • J-1 Research Scholar and Professor category is limited to five years
    • J-1 Short-term Scholar is limited to a six-month stay
    • Note some exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement
    • If scholar has held J status (including J Student, Researcher, Professor, Specialist or dependent) in the United States, except as a Short-Term Scholar, for six months or more during the preceding 12 months, he/she is not eligible for the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category
    • Scholars in the j-1 Professor or Research Scholar category become subject to the Two-Year Bar on repeat participation in those particular categories after completing their programs even if the program lasts less than five years.
        • DOS has taken the position that the Two-Year Bar also applies to J-2 dependents of J-1 Professors or Research Scholars if the J-2 subsequently wishes to return as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar
        • The two-year bar is different from the two- year home country residence requirement
    • May be given honorarium, stipend or salary by the J-1 program sponsor for pre-approved activities related to program objectives (in SEVIS).
    • Prior written authorization from ISSS must be obtained to engage in occasional lectures or consultation
    • Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors holding J-2 status may apply for employment authorization from USCIS
  • J-1 Student Intern
  • The J-1 Student Intern program is designed to provide an opportunity for certain international students to pursue a structured and guided internship program in his or her specific academic field.  The student internship is to fulfill the educational objectives for the prospective J-1 Student Intern's current (bachelor's, master's or doctorate) degree program at his or her home institution overseas.

  • E-3 Australian Treaty Workers in Specialty Occupation
    • Employment restricted to the petitioning employer under the terms and conditions of the approved E-3
    • Consult ISSS prior to any changes E-3 employment at the University of Pennsylvania
    • Must meet wage requirements as set by Department of Labor regulations
    • Must obtain E-3 visa abroad or obtain approval to change status to E-3 from within the US
    • E-3 status is granted for a maximum period of two years at a time
    • May receive honoraria, stipend, or salary only from the University of Pennsylvania for E-3 authorized activities. 
    • Dependents of E-3 workers may apply for employment authorization from USCIS
  • TN NAFTA Professionals
    • Available only to Canadian and Mexican citizens
    • Must be an employee of the University of Pennsylvania
    • Mexican citizens must obtain TN visa abroad to enter US
    • Canadian citizens must show letter of job offer and educational credentials to obtain status at the port of entry or border crossing
    • May be requested in increments of up to three years, with unlimited extensions.
    • Applies to only certain professions, most teaching and research positions (Cannot be used for physicians with clinical responsibilities)
  • O-1 Person of Extraordinary Ability
    • For individuals recognized by their peers and colleagues as having a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of his or her field. The individual must have made unique contributions to his or her field and play an integral or critical role in a program, project or department. Must demonstrate national and international prominence.
    • Must be an employee of the University of Pennsylvania
    • Application requires extensive demonstration and documentation of national or international prominence
    • Granted for an initial period of up to three years; indefinite annual extensions
  • F-1 Student On-Campus Employment
    • Must be a continuing full-time student with a valid Form I-20 issued by the University of Pennsylvania
    • Paychecks must be issued by the University of Pennsylvania. 
    • Consult an ISSS advisor in advance for employment with a UPHS entity or non-Penn entities
    • Employment must not interfere with academic program and must not displace a US worker
    • Restricted to 20 hours per week maximum while classes are in session, full time is permitted during university breaks
  • F-1 Student Optional Practical Training
    • F-1 Optional Practical Training recommended by a student's college or university for employment directly related to the student's major field of study. Must be approved by USCIS in form of a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
    • Restricted to 20 hours per week maximum while classes are in session, full time is permitted during university breaks
    • Total period allowable is 12 months per degree level; nonrenewable except for eligible STEM OPT extensions
  • F-1 Student Curricular Practical Training
    • F-1 Curricular Practical Training authorized by a Designated School Official at the individual’s academic institution for a position where the training serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program
    • Approval is given on the third page of student’s Form I-20 by the issuing institution
  • J-1 Student On-Campus Employment
    • Must be a continuing full time student with a valid Form DS-2019 issued for study at the University of Pennsylvania
    • Must have prior written authorization from ISSS (or their program sponsor if other than the University of Pennsylvania)
    • Paychecks must be issued by the University of Pennsylvania
    • Consult an ISSS advisor in advance for employment with a UPHS entity or non-Penn entities
    • Employment must not interfere with academic program and must not displace a US worker
    • Restricted to 20 hours per week maximum while classes are in session, full time is permitted during university breaks
  • J-1 Student Academic Training
    • J-1 Academic Training authorized in writing by J-1 sponsor (the University of Pennsylvania, or program sponsor)
    • Work must be directly related to student's major field of study
    • Maximum period allowable is 18 months (postdoctoral academic training may be authorized for up to an additional 18 months)
    • Authorization will be listed on Form DS-2019 and the Academic Training authorization letter