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Frequently Asked Questions
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Please see our travel webpage for the list of documents and signatures required to travel.
To return to the US, most F-1 students and dependents must have a valid I-20 with a signature issued from ISSS under "Travel Endorsement" section in the past 12 months. If you are an F-1 student (or dependent) on post-completion OPT, your travel signature must have been issued within the past 6 months. J-1 Exchange visitors and dependents must have a valid DS-2019 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past 12 months. The Travel Signature Request form can be found in iPenn.
If there is sufficient time to request a DS-2019/I-20 with an updated travel signature, submit the Travel Signature Request form in iPenn. Once it has been approved, submit the Shipping Request Form to have the document shipped to your location.
If you do not have enough time to obtain a new document, please reach out to your assigned ISSS Advisor to inform them of your situation. If you attempt to enter the U.S. without a valid travel signature, several outcomes may occur:
1. You may be allowed to re-enter the U.S. based on your active SEVIS record.
2. You may be admitted into the U.S. for 30 days under the I-515A. If this occurs, please inform ISSS as soon as possible as they will need to mail in paperwork to correct your status.
3. You may not be admitted into the U.S. If this happens, please request for the officer to call our office.
For information on applying for a Social Security Number (SSN), please refer to our Social Security webpage.
Our website contains extensive information regarding applying for OPT. Please review our F-1 OPT webpage, where you can also listen to a recent OPT webinar. If you have questions regarding your specific case, you must reach out to your assigned ISSS Advisor as specified in iPenn or visit our office for advising.
The F-1 CPT webpage contains general information on applying for CPT. Additionally, note that you must consult your appropriate school advisor. If you have ISSS-related questions regarding your specific case, please reach out to your assigned ISSS Advisor as specified in iPenn or make an advising appointment.
Answer all questions truthfully. When you are using your OPT or CPT, you are in F-1 status sponsored by Penn, and the employer would not need to sponsor you. However, if you are asked whether you will require sponsorship "at any point in the future", the answer for most international students is "yes."
If given an opportunity, explain your situation to the prospective employer.
Log into iPenn and complete the "OPT Reporting" eform located under "Student Services."
Log into iPenn and complete the "SEVP Portal eForm" located under "Student Services." This eForm is intended for active students on OPT who have been either locked out of their SEVP portal and need to be reset or would like the email account associated with their portal account changed. Once we process your form, you will receive follow-up information.
Please email your assigned ISSS Advisor as specified in iPenn.
For general information, refer to the Reduced Course Load webpage. If you have questions about your specific case, please speak directly to your ISSS advisor as specified in iPenn.
If you are a prospective undergraduate student, please refer to Penn Admissions. For graduate programs, please refer to your specific program of interest. ISSS does not make admissions decisions.
Please see Student Registration & Financial Service's Enrollment and Degree Verification webpage for enrollment and degree verification for current students and alumni of Penn.
Initial I-20/DS-2019 Application
Please the "Financial Requirements" section of the I-20/DS-2019 Application page.
Please allow for three weeks once ISSS receives your complete application.
Upon receipt of your form I-20 or DS-2019, you would take the next steps towards acquiring F-1 or J-1 status.
Due to the large volume of applications received by our office, we are unable to expedite I-20/DS-2019 applications. You may inform us if you have an extenuating circumstance, however, we cannot guarantee that the request can be accommodated.
A valid visa stamp is only required if you are seeking entry to the U.S. If you have questions about your specific case, please speak directly to your ISSS advisor as specified in iPenn.
For information regarding how to apply for a new F-1 student visa, please refer to the Student Visa webpage on the U.S. Department of State's website.
For information regarding how to apply for a new J-1 student/ exchange visitor visa, please refer to Exchange Visitor Visa webpage on the U.S. Department of State's website.
Please review the limited information on our Tax Information and ITIN webpage. ISSS does not have tax expertise, nor do we provide tax consult to international students or scholars.
J-1 Exchange Visitors
Log into iPenn and and complete the "Late Arrival Request" on behalf of the scholar. This must be done prior to the scholar's arrival in the U.S.
Please advise your hosting department to inform ISSS of your departure date.
Your department must submit a request in iPenn to extend your program end date.
If you believe you may arrive in the U.S. 15 days or more after your start date as specified on your DS-2019, inform your department immediately. Your department will need to complete the "Late Arrival Request" on your behalf so that ISSS can issue an updated DS-2019.
Please refer to Student Registration & Financial Services regarding International Student Financial Aid.