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

The University of Pennsylvania hosts foreign nationals in the categories described below. These guidelines are meant to help the Penn hiring departments determine which immigration status is most appropriate. Points to consider:

  • 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

Click each section heading below for detailed information on each immigration category.


H-1B Specialty Workers

Specialty employment is restricted to the petitioning employer under the terms and conditions of the approved H-1B and Penn must meet the wage requirements as set by Department of Labor regulations. H-1B status is initially granted for a maximum period of 3 years and can be extended for a total of 6 years (regardless of the number of employers). H-4 dependents may not work in the US.


J-1 Visiting Scholars

J-1 status is available to visiting scholars, such as visiting professors, visiting researchers, postdoctoral fellows, etc. J-1 status cannot be used for a tenure-track/tenured faculty positions or staff positions. Some exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement and J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization from USCIS.


J-1 Student Interns

The J-1 Student Intern Program provides an international student with an opportunity to pursue a structured internship program in his or her academic field. The student's internship is meant to fulfill the educational objectives for a current bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree program at his or her home institution abroad.


E-3 Australian Treaty Workers

Specialty employment is restricted to the petitioning employer under the terms and conditions of the approved E-3 and Penn must meet the wage requirements as set by Department of Labor regulations. E-3 status is granted for a maximum period of 2 years at a time. Dependents of E-3 workers may apply for employment authorization from USCIS.


TN Professionals

TN status is available only to Canadian and Mexican citizens who will work at Penn in certain professions, especially teaching and research positions. TN status cannot be used for physicians with clinical responsibilities. May be requested in increments of up to 3 years, with unlimited extensions. Dependents of TN Professionals holding TD status may not work in the US.


O-1 Extraordinary Ability

Employment at Penn in O-1 status is reserved 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/her field. Therefore, in order to qualify for O-1 status one must have made unique contributions to his/her field and must demonstrate this (inter)national prominence. S/he must be hired into a position in which s/he will play an integral or critical role in a program, project, or department. O-1 status is granted for an initial period of up to 3 years with indefinite annual extensions possible. O-3 dependents may not work in the US.


B-1 Visitors for Business or B-2 Visitors for Pleasure (Tourist - Not Sponsored)

Visitor immigration categories are not meant for employment of any kind. B-1 visitors may be reimbursed for travel expenses and B-2 visitors may receive reimbursements for travel expenses only if incidental honorarium. May enter the US for short periods of time (usually three to six months or less).


WB Visitor for Business or WT for Pleasure (Tourist - Not Sponsored)

Visitor immigration categories via the Visa Waiver Program are not meant for employment of any kind. WB visitors may be reimbursed for travel expenses and WT visitors may receive reimbursements for travel expenses only if incidental honorarium. May enter US for a maximum of 90 days without a visa. WB/WT status is available only to citizens of certain countries who have registered online in advance through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  Go to the Department of State’s website for information.

Student-Related Employment Classifications

For even more information on student employment categories visit the Student Employment section of this site.


Student On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment authorization, of up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session, is generally available for Penn students who pursue a full-time program using a valid I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Penn. Paychecks must be issued by Penn payroll and J-1 students must have prior written authorization. Consult ISSS in advance with questions on students working at UPHS entities and non-Penn entities. Student employment must not displace a US worker and shouldn't interfere with a student's academic progress.


F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 OPT is recommended by a student's college or university and is approved by USCIS in form of a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Employment must be directly related to the student's major field of study. Students may work up to 20 hours/week while classes are in session and 20 hours or more during university breaks. Total OPT allowable is 12 months per degree level and OPT is nonrenewable except for STEM OPT extensions.


F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 CPT is authorized by a student's college or university for a position where the training serves as an integral part of a student's academic program. Approval is given on the third page of student’s Form I-20 by the sponsoring institution.


J-1 Academic Training (AT)

AT is authorized in writing by a student's J-1 program sponsor for work directly related to his or her major field of study. The maximum allowable AT duration is 18 months, although postdoctoral AT may be authorized for up to 18 additional months. AT authorization will be noted on the DS-2019 and in an authorization letter the student should receive from the J-1 program sponsor.