Prepare for Penn

Welcome to the World at Penn!

As a new member of the Penn family, you'll join a community of more than 7,000 international students, scholars, and employees from over 120 countries. ISSS is committed to making sure that you have the smoothest transition possible, from preparing for your trip to getting settled in Philadelphia. Even if you are embarking on your Penn journey from outside of the United States, we are here to help you hit the ground running. 

Information for: Students | Scholars

Getting Started: Students

Tips and reminders for new international students.

Not sure where to start? Watch the recordings from Forerunner Global 2020, a virtual introduction to life at Penn!

Watch Forerunner Global

Note: ISSS is not responsible for admitting international students to the University of Pennsylvania. For information on applying to Penn, please see the Penn Admissions website (for undergraduate students) or contact your prospective department directly. 

fact_check

Prepare

Congratulations on your acceptance to Penn! As you get ready to start your journey, please:

Get set up in iPenn keyboard

As an international student, you will use iPenn to apply for an I-20 or DS-2019, book advising appointments, report information to ISSS and much more. To get started in iPenn as a first-time Penn student, go to https://www.ipenn.oip.upenn.edu and click "No - I am a newly admitted student." Then follow the prompts.

Apply for your I-20 or DS-2019description

Your experience as an international student at Penn begins with your application for a Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students). These forms contain important information about your program and serve as the basis for your immigration status in the U.S. Detailed information about the application process for these documents can be found on this page.

Transfer students can use iPenn to initiative a SEVIS record transfer. See more information on this page

Fall 2020 note: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has permitted schools to issue electronic Forms I-20. The Department of State, which overses the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, has not authorized the issuance of electronic Forms DS-2019. Please also note that you do not need an I-20 or DS-2019 to begin your studies online. These documents are only necessary for admission into the United States.

Apply for a visaaccount_box

After you have received your I-20 or DS-2019, see the US Department of State website for detailed information about applying for a visa at your local US Embassy/Consulate. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the US entry visa requirement  

Fall 2020 note: Routine visa services were suspended worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A phased reopening began on July 14, 2020, but the availability of visa appointments in your country will depend on local conditions. See the US Department of State website for information about your US Embassy/Consulate operations in your country.

View the ISSS Workshop on Visa Interviews

Complete the Penn10 (undergraduates) or Thrive At Penn (TAP) the and the ISSS pre-departure checklistdone_all

Now that you've got your visa and all the other necessary documents, you can start learning more about life at Penn and taking care of some necessary first steps. 

UndergraduatesComplete the Penn10. The Penn10 is a list of ten key actions for you to complete before you begin your studies at Penn, including setting up your PennKey, registering for courses, and more.

Graduate and professional students: Complete the Thrive at Penn (TAP) modules, TAP prepares graduate and professional students to make healthy choices during their university experience and provides information about resources available to support student success.

Please also review the ISSS pre-departure checklist.

Registering for courses: 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 4 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 4 courses or more each semester is considered to be the minimum full-time enrollment. Registration takes place in Penn InTouch. More information about course registration is available here.

Review the Penn Student Campus Compact to prevent the spread of COVID-19coronavirus

Campus life will look a little bit different during Fall 2020. Review the Student Campus Compact to learn how you can do your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on Penn's campus.

 

flight_land

Arrive

As you prepare for take-off, here are some pointers for before and after your depart for Philadelphia.

Pre-departure

Make sure you have all necessary travel documentsgrading

Review this page for a comprehensive overview of everything you will need to travel, including a valid I-20/DS-2019, passport (valid for at least six months from the date of your intended return), valid F-1/J-1 visa, and other documents.

Please note: If you received an electronic I-20, you must print it out and carry it with you. Presenting your electronic I-20 on your phone, tablet or laptop will not be acceptable for any official purpose.

Fall 2020 note: Check with your airline to make sure that no additional documentation is required for you to board your flight. You may request a travel support letter from your School at Penn. See here for more information on this process. Please also review current travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. 

 

Upon arrival

At the port of entry flight_land

Upon arrival to the US, students will present their passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019, and SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment Receipt to representatives of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. You will be assigned an I-94 number upon entry to the US; this number is proof of your legal visitor status. Students can access their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP website.

Getting to Philadelphia/Penncommute

There are a wide variety of ways to get to Penn depending on where you are coming from. 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, which include:

  • Taxis: Available 24 hours a day from Zone 5 of the airport
  • Lyft/Uber: Follow signs for designated pickup areas
  • Shuttle services
  • Public transportation, including buses and trains to downtown Philadelphia and to University City

See the Philadelphia International Airport website for a full description of 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 Amtrak train or bus (e.g., Megabus, Boltbus, Greyhound) to Philadelphia. 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. For a full description of all travel options, please see the Penn Travel and Expense Management website.

Complete mandatory new student check-in requirementsverified

You are required to register your presence at Penn by completing a check-in with ISSS. Please complete the following steps: 

  1. Complete the tutorial in iPenn (Before or after you arrive in the US).
  2. Complete the arrival form in iPenn (After you arrive in the US).

Fall 2020 note: While we would normally meet you in person to guide you through the check-in process, ISSS is currently operating remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please do not come to our office until we resume in-person operations.

 

translate

Adapt

Now that you're here, it's time to learn about all of the resources available to you as an international student at the University of Pennsylvania. Even if you haven't made it to campus yet, there are so many ways for you to begin adapting to life at Penn. 

Get oriented

Orientation activities for undergraduates

New Student Orientation (NSO) is a series of activities for undergraduate students and families designed to help with a successful transition to Penn. During the Fall 2020 semester, NSO will begin August 24 and will take place primarily online to ensure that all new students can participate, regardless of their location in the world.

Members of the Class of 2024 can also join the official Penn Class of 2024 Facebook group.

Orientation activities for graduate students

The Graduate Student Center (GSC) is available to help you navigate your graduate experience at Penn and organizes a variety of orientation activities for new students. See the GSC website for a full overview of the resources available to you.

 

Get adjusted

Stay safe security

In 2020, Penn's Division of Public Safety (DPS) was chosen as Security Magazine’s #1 Public Safety program in the Higher Education Sector for the 13th consecutive year! DPS offers 24/7 Walking Escort Services, a 24/7 mental health HELP line, free on-call transit services and a wide variety of other initiatives meant to educate the Penn community on how to be safe and secure on campus and in Philadelphia. 

info Make sure your contact information in Penn InTouch is accurate to receive safety updates from DPS.

More: Staying Safe

Familiarize yourself with academic life at Penn school

Adapting to a new academic context can be difficult–as you begin your studies at Penn, you may encounter words and concepts you've never heard before. Academic culture in the United States may be different than in your home country, and studying in a second language can also present unique challenges. Fortunately, Penn offers many resources to help international students adapt to academic life at Penn. For example, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center offers a variety of tutoring opportunities, workshops, and consultations to support international students in their transition.

More: Academic Life at Penn

Plan your finances attach_money

Take the time to think about how you will manage your finances at Penn and familiarize yourself with the resources available to support your financial wellness. The Office of Student Financial Services has developed a comprehensive guide to help international students understand their financial aid while at Penn.

Note: Beginning in 2020, Penn has partnered with PayMyTuition for international tuition payments. With PayMyTuition, you can pay your tuition payments from any bank, in any country, in any currency at better-than-bank exchange rates. Read more here.

More: Plan Your Finances

Review housing options home

There are many on- and off-campus housing options available to students. For an overview of on-campus housing options, see the Penn Residential Services website. Information about off-campus options is available on the Penn Off-Campus Services website. 

Fall 2020 Note: A number of modifications are being made to on-campus and Penn-owned off-campus housing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See the FAQ on this page.

More: Housing

Stay well healing

Penn's Student Health Services (SHS) provides outpatient care for all students on campus. All full-time and dissertation students are required to either enroll in the Penn sponsored insurance or request an insurance waiver annually online. You can review insurance requirements on this page. Please note that J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to have health insurance meeting certain standards and coverage levels for the entirety of their stay.

There are also many resources at Penn to help you look after your mental wellness. Through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), you'll have access to virtual support groups, emergency mental health support, and counseling.

More: Healthcare & Medical Insurance

Get connected devices

Penn Information Systems and Computing provides robust IT service to all members of the Penn community. For information about remote IT support, remote learning tools, and student IT support by School, view this page.

You may also find yourself confused by the options for getting connected to a mobile phone service, which may be different in the US than in your home country. The below guide will help you navigate these options. 

More: Get Connected 

Explore resources for families escalator_warning

There are more than 2,000 students and scholars with spouses, partners, or children at Penn. Over 20% of the students in the graduate and professional schools live with their spouses or partners. Penn's Family Resource Center is one of the many places you can turn to help you and your family thrive at Penn and in the United States.

More: Resources for Families

 

follow_the_signs

Explore

After you've had time to adapt to your new surroundings, you can begin to explore, make connections, and start to feel at home at Penn, in Philadelphia, and in the United States. 

Get involved with ISSS student programs and leadership opportunitieslibrary_add

ISSS offers a wide variety of immigration- and integration-related programming for students. Through opportunities such as the International Student Advisory Board, students can get involved in advocating for the interests of Penn's international student community. ISSS also offers workshops and activities designed to promote intercultural learning and adaptation. During the Fall 2020 semester, we will be providing many virtual engagement opportunities. 

More: Student Programs and Leadership Opportunities

Find your communityperson_add

There are hundreds of student groups at Penn, from cultural and religious organizations to pre-professional societies and recreational sports teams. There are also groups representing students from every corner of the world. View information about Penn's clubs and organizations at this webpage

As a new member of the Philadelphia community, you may also be interested in participating in volunteer work or community service activities. See the Penn Community Service Directory for an overview of the many volunteer and community service opportunities available to you. Penn's Civic House and the Netter Center are also great resources for helping you get connected to fulfilling and impactful service work.

Important: When accepting a volunteer or community service opportunity, make sure that it does not violate the terms of your stay in the United States as a student. Accepting unauthorized employment opportunities can jeopardize your legal status in the country. Generally speaking, you may accept any volunteer opportunity that would not otherwise be filled by a person receiving financial compensation. See this page for a comprehensive guide on what is and is not considered authorized employment, and always check with ISSS if you have any doubts or concerns about a specific opportunity.

Review shopping and dining options near campus local_dining

West Philadelphia is truly a cultural melting pot. From cozy Ethiopian cafes to busy Mediterranean food trucks to bustling chain supermarkets, you won't have to look far to find a shop or restaurant that suits your tastes. Have a look at the Shops at Penn website to familiarize yourself with some of the shopping and dining options near campus.

Find your way aroundairport_shuttle

Penn Transit provides a comprehensive transportation system on and around campus within specific boundaries. Additionally, Philadelphia has an extensive bus and subway system managed by the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). For day trips outside of Philadelphia, there are many affordable transportation options that connected Philadelphia to places like New York City and Washington, DC. As an international student, you may also be able to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver's License. 

More: Getting around

Engage with campus resource centers support

Penn's many campus resource centers are available to support your health and safety, to help you find a sense of belonging on campus, and to assist you with academic and career-related questions.

More: Campus resource centers

Get to know Philadelphialocation_city

As the fifth-largest city in the United States, Philadelphia (the "City of Brotherly Love") has something for everyone. Here are some resources to help you learn more about your new home:

More: Exploring Philadelphia

fact_check

Prepare

Congratulations on your acceptance to Penn! As you get ready to start your journey, please:

Get set up in iPenn keyboard

As an international student, you will use iPenn to apply for an I-20 or DS-2019, book advising appointments, report information to ISSS and much more. To get started in iPenn as a first-time Penn student, go to https://www.ipenn.oip.upenn.edu and click "No - I am a newly admitted student." Then follow the prompts.

Apply for your I-20 or DS-2019description

Your experience as an international student at Penn begins with your application for a Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students). These forms contain important information about your program and serve as the basis for your immigration status in the U.S. Detailed information about the application process for these documents can be found on this page.

Transfer students can use iPenn to initiative a SEVIS record transfer. See more information on this page

Fall 2020 note: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has permitted schools to issue electronic Forms I-20. The Department of State, which overses the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, has not authorized the issuance of electronic Forms DS-2019. Please also note that you do not need an I-20 or DS-2019 to begin your studies online. These documents are only necessary for admission into the United States.

Apply for a visaaccount_box

After you have received your I-20 or DS-2019, see the US Department of State website for detailed information about applying for a visa at your local US Embassy/Consulate. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the US entry visa requirement  

Fall 2020 note: Routine visa services were suspended worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A phased reopening began on July 14, 2020, but the availability of visa appointments in your country will depend on local conditions. See the US Department of State website for information about your US Embassy/Consulate operations in your country.

View the ISSS Workshop on Visa Interviews

Complete the Penn10 (undergraduates) or Thrive At Penn (TAP) the and the ISSS pre-departure checklistdone_all

Now that you've got your visa and all the other necessary documents, you can start learning more about life at Penn and taking care of some necessary first steps. 

UndergraduatesComplete the Penn10. The Penn10 is a list of ten key actions for you to complete before you begin your studies at Penn, including setting up your PennKey, registering for courses, and more.

Graduate and professional students: Complete the Thrive at Penn (TAP) modules, TAP prepares graduate and professional students to make healthy choices during their university experience and provides information about resources available to support student success.

Please also review the ISSS pre-departure checklist.

Registering for courses: 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 4 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 4 courses or more each semester is considered to be the minimum full-time enrollment. Registration takes place in Penn InTouch. More information about course registration is available here.

Review the Penn Student Campus Compact to prevent the spread of COVID-19coronavirus

Campus life will look a little bit different during Fall 2020. Review the Student Campus Compact to learn how you can do your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on Penn's campus.

 

flight_land

Arrive

As you prepare for take-off, here are some pointers for before and after your depart for Philadelphia.

Pre-departure

Make sure you have all necessary travel documentsgrading

Review this page for a comprehensive overview of everything you will need to travel, including a valid I-20/DS-2019, passport (valid for at least six months from the date of your intended return), valid F-1/J-1 visa, and other documents.

Please note: If you received an electronic I-20, you must print it out and carry it with you. Presenting your electronic I-20 on your phone, tablet or laptop will not be acceptable for any official purpose.

Fall 2020 note: Check with your airline to make sure that no additional documentation is required for you to board your flight. You may request a travel support letter from your School at Penn. See here for more information on this process. Please also review current travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. 

 

Upon arrival

At the port of entry flight_land

Upon arrival to the US, students will present their passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019, and SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment Receipt to representatives of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. You will be assigned an I-94 number upon entry to the US; this number is proof of your legal visitor status. Students can access their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP website.

Getting to Philadelphia/Penncommute

There are a wide variety of ways to get to Penn depending on where you are coming from. 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, which include:

  • Taxis: Available 24 hours a day from Zone 5 of the airport
  • Lyft/Uber: Follow signs for designated pickup areas
  • Shuttle services
  • Public transportation, including buses and trains to downtown Philadelphia and to University City

See the Philadelphia International Airport website for a full description of 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 Amtrak train or bus (e.g., Megabus, Boltbus, Greyhound) to Philadelphia. 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. For a full description of all travel options, please see the Penn Travel and Expense Management website.

Complete mandatory new student check-in requirementsverified

You are required to register your presence at Penn by completing a check-in with ISSS. Please complete the following steps: 

  1. Complete the tutorial in iPenn (Before or after you arrive in the US).
  2. Complete the arrival form in iPenn (After you arrive in the US).

Fall 2020 note: While we would normally meet you in person to guide you through the check-in process, ISSS is currently operating remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please do not come to our office until we resume in-person operations.

 

translate

Adapt

Now that you're here, it's time to learn about all of the resources available to you as an international student at the University of Pennsylvania. Even if you haven't made it to campus yet, there are so many ways for you to begin adapting to life at Penn. 

Get oriented

Orientation activities for undergraduates

New Student Orientation (NSO) is a series of activities for undergraduate students and families designed to help with a successful transition to Penn. During the Fall 2020 semester, NSO will begin August 24 and will take place primarily online to ensure that all new students can participate, regardless of their location in the world.

Members of the Class of 2024 can also join the official Penn Class of 2024 Facebook group.

Orientation activities for graduate students

The Graduate Student Center (GSC) is available to help you navigate your graduate experience at Penn and organizes a variety of orientation activities for new students. See the GSC website for a full overview of the resources available to you.

 

Get adjusted

Stay safe security

In 2020, Penn's Division of Public Safety (DPS) was chosen as Security Magazine’s #1 Public Safety program in the Higher Education Sector for the 13th consecutive year! DPS offers 24/7 Walking Escort Services, a 24/7 mental health HELP line, free on-call transit services and a wide variety of other initiatives meant to educate the Penn community on how to be safe and secure on campus and in Philadelphia. 

info Make sure your contact information in Penn InTouch is accurate to receive safety updates from DPS.

More: Staying Safe

Familiarize yourself with academic life at Penn school

Adapting to a new academic context can be difficult–as you begin your studies at Penn, you may encounter words and concepts you've never heard before. Academic culture in the United States may be different than in your home country, and studying in a second language can also present unique challenges. Fortunately, Penn offers many resources to help international students adapt to academic life at Penn. For example, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center offers a variety of tutoring opportunities, workshops, and consultations to support international students in their transition.

More: Academic Life at Penn

Plan your finances attach_money

Take the time to think about how you will manage your finances at Penn and familiarize yourself with the resources available to support your financial wellness. The Office of Student Financial Services has developed a comprehensive guide to help international students understand their financial aid while at Penn.

Note: Beginning in 2020, Penn has partnered with PayMyTuition for international tuition payments. With PayMyTuition, you can pay your tuition payments from any bank, in any country, in any currency at better-than-bank exchange rates. Read more here.

More: Plan Your Finances

Review housing options home

There are many on- and off-campus housing options available to students. For an overview of on-campus housing options, see the Penn Residential Services website. Information about off-campus options is available on the Penn Off-Campus Services website. 

Fall 2020 Note: A number of modifications are being made to on-campus and Penn-owned off-campus housing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See the FAQ on this page.

More: Housing

Stay well healing

Penn's Student Health Services (SHS) provides outpatient care for all students on campus. All full-time and dissertation students are required to either enroll in the Penn sponsored insurance or request an insurance waiver annually online. You can review insurance requirements on this page. Please note that J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to have health insurance meeting certain standards and coverage levels for the entirety of their stay.

There are also many resources at Penn to help you look after your mental wellness. Through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), you'll have access to virtual support groups, emergency mental health support, and counseling.

More: Healthcare & Medical Insurance

Get connected devices

Penn Information Systems and Computing provides robust IT service to all members of the Penn community. For information about remote IT support, remote learning tools, and student IT support by School, view this page.

You may also find yourself confused by the options for getting connected to a mobile phone service, which may be different in the US than in your home country. The below guide will help you navigate these options. 

More: Get Connected 

Explore resources for families escalator_warning

There are more than 2,000 students and scholars with spouses, partners, or children at Penn. Over 20% of the students in the graduate and professional schools live with their spouses or partners. Penn's Family Resource Center is one of the many places you can turn to help you and your family thrive at Penn and in the United States.

More: Resources for Families

 

follow_the_signs

Explore

After you've had time to adapt to your new surroundings, you can begin to explore, make connections, and start to feel at home at Penn, in Philadelphia, and in the United States. 

Get involved with ISSS student programs and leadership opportunitieslibrary_add

ISSS offers a wide variety of immigration- and integration-related programming for students. Through opportunities such as the International Student Advisory Board, students can get involved in advocating for the interests of Penn's international student community. ISSS also offers workshops and activities designed to promote intercultural learning and adaptation. During the Fall 2020 semester, we will be providing many virtual engagement opportunities. 

More: Student Programs and Leadership Opportunities

Find your communityperson_add

There are hundreds of student groups at Penn, from cultural and religious organizations to pre-professional societies and recreational sports teams. There are also groups representing students from every corner of the world. View information about Penn's clubs and organizations at this webpage

As a new member of the Philadelphia community, you may also be interested in participating in volunteer work or community service activities. See the Penn Community Service Directory for an overview of the many volunteer and community service opportunities available to you. Penn's Civic House and the Netter Center are also great resources for helping you get connected to fulfilling and impactful service work.

Important: When accepting a volunteer or community service opportunity, make sure that it does not violate the terms of your stay in the United States as a student. Accepting unauthorized employment opportunities can jeopardize your legal status in the country. Generally speaking, you may accept any volunteer opportunity that would not otherwise be filled by a person receiving financial compensation. See this page for a comprehensive guide on what is and is not considered authorized employment, and always check with ISSS if you have any doubts or concerns about a specific opportunity.

Review shopping and dining options near campus local_dining

West Philadelphia is truly a cultural melting pot. From cozy Ethiopian cafes to busy Mediterranean food trucks to bustling chain supermarkets, you won't have to look far to find a shop or restaurant that suits your tastes. Have a look at the Shops at Penn website to familiarize yourself with some of the shopping and dining options near campus.

Find your way aroundairport_shuttle

Penn Transit provides a comprehensive transportation system on and around campus within specific boundaries. Additionally, Philadelphia has an extensive bus and subway system managed by the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). For day trips outside of Philadelphia, there are many affordable transportation options that connected Philadelphia to places like New York City and Washington, DC. As an international student, you may also be able to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver's License. 

More: Getting around

Engage with campus resource centers support

Penn's many campus resource centers are available to support your health and safety, to help you find a sense of belonging on campus, and to assist you with academic and career-related questions.

More: Campus resource centers

Get to know Philadelphialocation_city

As the fifth-largest city in the United States, Philadelphia (the "City of Brotherly Love") has something for everyone. Here are some resources to help you learn more about your new home:

More: Exploring Philadelphia

Getting Started: Scholars

Information for new international scholars, employees, and post-docs. 

This section assumes that you have already secured an appointment as a scholar, employee, or post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania. For detailed information on the application processes and hosting department requirements, please see this page.

fact_check

Prepare

Congratulations on your appointment at Penn! As you get ready to start your journey, please:

Get set up in iPenn keyboard

During your time at Penn, you will use iPenn to report your arrival to Penn, book advising appointments, and much more. To get started in iPenn as a scholar/employee, go to https://www.ipenn.oip.upenn.edu/?screen=newscholar. You will be prompted to enter your Penn ID/Temp ID and PIN as sent to you by ISSS. 

Work with your department to obtain all necessary documentsdescription

Be sure to respond in a timely fashion to all inquiries from your hosting department at Penn and from ISSS in order to obtain all of the documents you'll need to apply for a visa (if you are outside of the United States). 

Apply for a visaaccount_box

After you have received your DS-2019 (for J-1 scholars), I-797 approval notice (for H-1B employees), and any other necessary documentation, you can begin the visa application process. See this page to review the required fees and documentation for H-1B employees and this page for J-1 scholars. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the US entry visa requirement.   

Fall 2020 note: Routine visa services were suspended worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A phased reopening began on July 14, 2020, but the availability of visa appointments in your country will depend on local conditions. See the US Department of State website for information about your US Embassy/Consulate operations in your country.  

Additionally, a Presidential Proclamation issued on June 22, 2020 suspended entry into the United States by certain H, J and L visa categories. The ban does not apply to individuals who held a valid nonimmigrant visa or were physically located in the United States as of June 22, 2020. Read more about the proclamation here.

Prepare your dependents for their transition to the USdone_all

If you're planning on bringing your spouse or children with you to the United States, you're not alone. Make sure you are aware of all of the requirements for J-2 and H-4 dependents. It's never to early to get familiar with Penn's phenomenal Family Resource Center, where you can find information about schooling in Philadelphia, child care resources and much more prior to your arrival in the US. 

Review the University's plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19coronavirus

The University has released a comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Penn's campus during the 2020-2021 school year. Review it here.

J-1 Scholars: Purchase health insurancelocal_hospital

As J-1 Visiting Scholars are required to be covered for the entirety of their program, we recommend that you purchase coverage prior to your arrival. Review J-1 health insurance requirements here.

flight_land

Arrive

As you prepare for take-off, here are some pointers for before and after your departure for Philadelphia.

Pre-departure

Make sure you have all necessary travel documentsgrading

Review this page for a comprehensive overview of everything you will need to travel. Make sure you are in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future.

Fall 2020 note: Check with your airline to make sure that no additional documentation is required for you to board your flight. Please also review current travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. 

 

Upon arrival

At the port of entry flight_land

Upon arrival to the US, you should be prepared to show your passport, I-797 Notice of Action/DS-2019, proof of SEVIS fee payment and other necessary documents, which can be reviewed here. Your admission into the US will be subject to an inspection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. You will be assigned an I-94 number upon entry to the US; this number is proof of your legal visitor status. You can access their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP website.

Getting to Philadelphia/Penncommute

There are a wide variety of ways to get to Penn depending on where you are coming from. 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, which include:

  • Taxis: Available 24 hours a day from Zone 5 of the airport
  • Lyft/Uber: Follow signs for designated pickup areas
  • Shuttle services
  • Public transportation, including buses and trains to downtown Philadelphia and to University City

See the Philadelphia International Airport website for a full description of 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. 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. For a full description of all travel options, please see the Penn Travel and Expense Management website.

J-1 Scholars: complete mandatory check-in requirementsverified

All J-1 scholars are required to complete the J-1 Scholar Orientation and Arrival Form in iPenn and virtually check in with an ISSS specialist.

The check-in process should be completed within 10 days of the program start date on your DS-2019. If your scheduled arrival date has changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak or other circumstances, you should contact your department administrator regarding your new scheduled arrival start date.

Fall 2020 note: While we would normally meet you in person to guide you through the check-in process, ISSS is currently operating remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please do not come to our office until we resume in-person operations.

 

translate

Adapt

Now that you're here, it's time to learn about all of the resources available to you as an international scholar/employee at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Get adjusted

Review housing options home

There are many off-campus housing options available to international scholars and employees. When choosing a neighborhood, you should take a number of things into account, including the length of the commute to campus and schooling options (for scholars and employees with children). Many Penn faculty and staff members choose to live in West Philadelphia in neighborhoods such as Spruce Hill and Cedar Park, from where campus is accessible within a short trolley or bus ride, walk, or bike trip.  

Finding housing in a new country can be intimidating. Penn Off-Campus Services is available to help you navigate the process of finding a place to live in Philadelphia. You can also search for current rental listings

More: Housing

Stay safe security

In 2020, Penn's Division of Public Safety (DPS) was chosen as Security Magazine’s #1 Public Safety program in the Higher Education Sector for the 13th consecutive year! DPS offers 24/7 Walking Escort Services, a 24/7 mental health HELP line, free on-call transit services and a wide variety of other initiatives meant to educate the Penn community on how to be safe and secure on campus and in Philadelphia. 

info Make sure your contact information in the Penn Directory is accurate to receive safety updates from DPS. See here for instructions on updating your information.

More: Staying Safe

Plan your finances attach_money

Take advantage of a free, confidential financial consultation through Penn's Employee Assistance Program. Consult the Penn Human Resources website for Penn-specific advice on saving, managing life events, and other topics. 

Stay well healing

If you're confused by all of the options for healthcare and medical insurance in the United States, don't worry - this topic can be confusing even for American citizens! This glossary might help you gain an understanding of some of the concepts involved in the American healthcare system. There are many world-class hospitals and clinics in Philadelphia, and your access to them will depend on your insurance coverage. Scholars and employees at Penn should work with their academic departments to determine what arrangements, if any, have been made for health insurance.

Scholars and families of scholars are not eligible to use Student Health Services. You can call the University of Pennsylvania Health System at 1-800-789-PENN to obtain a directory of Penn primary care physicians or you may want to get references from friends and colleagues. Information about Penn's support of wellness, stress management, and work-life balance for employees is available on the Penn HR website.

J-1 Scholars: Remember that you are required to have insurance meeting certain standards and coverage levels for the entirety of your program at Penn. More information about the insurance requirements for J-1 scholars is available here.

More: Healthcare & Medical Insurance

Get connected devices

Penn Information Systems and Computing (ISC) provides robust IT service to all members of the Penn community. For information about all of the services ISC provides, see this page.

You may also find yourself confused by the options for getting connected to a mobile phone service, which may be different in the US than in your home country. The below guide will help you navigate these options. 

More: Get Connected 

Explore resources for families escalator_warning

There are more than 2,000 students and scholars with spouses, partners, or children at Penn. Over 20% of the students in the graduate and professional schools live with their spouses or partners. Penn's Family Resource Center is one of the many places you can turn to help you and your family thrive at Penn and in the United States.

More: Resources for Families

 

follow_the_signs

Explore

After you've had time to adapt to your new surroundings, you can begin to explore, make connections, and start to feel at home at Penn, in Philadelphia, and in the United States. 

Find your communityperson_add

See this page for an overview of faculty and staff organizations at Penn. Networking opportunities for Penn faculty and staff are primarily centered around specific disciplines and Schools, so you should check with your colleagues and supervisors to learn more about how you can get involved in your community. Here is a small sample of engagement opportunities for scholars and employees: 

You can also reach out to one of Penn's many campus resource centers to inquire about opportunities to get engaged. 

Finally, see the Penn Community Service Directory for an overview of the many volunteer and community service opportunities available to you.

Important: When accepting a volunteer or community service opportunity, make sure that it does not violate the terms of your stay in the United States as a scholar or employee. Generally speaking, you may accept any volunteer opportunity that would not otherwise be filled by a person receiving financial compensation.

Finally, there are many opportunities available through the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.    

Review shopping and dining options near campus local_dining

West Philadelphia is truly a cultural melting pot. From cozy Ethiopian cafes to busy Mediterranean food trucks to bustling chain supermarkets, you won't have to look far to find a shop or restaurant that suits your tastes. Have a look at the Shops at Penn website to familiarize yourself with some of the shopping and dining options near campus.

Find your way aroundairport_shuttle

Penn Transit provides a comprehensive transportation system on and around campus within specific boundaries. Additionally, Philadelphia has an extensive bus, trolley, and subway system managed by the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). For day trips outside of Philadelphia, there are many affordable transportation options that connect Philadelphia to places like New York City and Washington, DC. As an international scholar or employee, you may also be able to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver's License

More: Getting around

Get to know Philadelphialocation_city

As the fifth-largest city in the United States, Philadelphia (the "City of Brotherly Love") has something for everyone. Here are some resources to help you learn more about your new home:

fact_check

Prepare

Congratulations on your appointment at Penn! As you get ready to start your journey, please:

Get set up in iPenn keyboard

During your time at Penn, you will use iPenn to report your arrival to Penn, book advising appointments, and much more. To get started in iPenn as a scholar/employee, go to https://www.ipenn.oip.upenn.edu/?screen=newscholar. You will be prompted to enter your Penn ID/Temp ID and PIN as sent to you by ISSS. 

Work with your department to obtain all necessary documentsdescription

Be sure to respond in a timely fashion to all inquiries from your hosting department at Penn and from ISSS in order to obtain all of the documents you'll need to apply for a visa (if you are outside of the United States). 

Apply for a visaaccount_box

After you have received your DS-2019 (for J-1 scholars), I-797 approval notice (for H-1B employees), and any other necessary documentation, you can begin the visa application process. See this page to review the required fees and documentation for H-1B employees and this page for J-1 scholars. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the US entry visa requirement.   

Fall 2020 note: Routine visa services were suspended worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A phased reopening began on July 14, 2020, but the availability of visa appointments in your country will depend on local conditions. See the US Department of State website for information about your US Embassy/Consulate operations in your country.  

Additionally, a Presidential Proclamation issued on June 22, 2020 suspended entry into the United States by certain H, J and L visa categories. The ban does not apply to individuals who held a valid nonimmigrant visa or were physically located in the United States as of June 22, 2020. Read more about the proclamation here.

Prepare your dependents for their transition to the USdone_all

If you're planning on bringing your spouse or children with you to the United States, you're not alone. Make sure you are aware of all of the requirements for J-2 and H-4 dependents. It's never to early to get familiar with Penn's phenomenal Family Resource Center, where you can find information about schooling in Philadelphia, child care resources and much more prior to your arrival in the US. 

Review the University's plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19coronavirus

The University has released a comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Penn's campus during the 2020-2021 school year. Review it here.

J-1 Scholars: Purchase health insurancelocal_hospital

As J-1 Visiting Scholars are required to be covered for the entirety of their program, we recommend that you purchase coverage prior to your arrival. Review J-1 health insurance requirements here.

flight_land

Arrive

As you prepare for take-off, here are some pointers for before and after your departure for Philadelphia.

Pre-departure

Make sure you have all necessary travel documentsgrading

Review this page for a comprehensive overview of everything you will need to travel. Make sure you are in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future.

Fall 2020 note: Check with your airline to make sure that no additional documentation is required for you to board your flight. Please also review current travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. 

 

Upon arrival

At the port of entry flight_land

Upon arrival to the US, you should be prepared to show your passport, I-797 Notice of Action/DS-2019, proof of SEVIS fee payment and other necessary documents, which can be reviewed here. Your admission into the US will be subject to an inspection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. You will be assigned an I-94 number upon entry to the US; this number is proof of your legal visitor status. You can access their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the CBP website.

Getting to Philadelphia/Penncommute

There are a wide variety of ways to get to Penn depending on where you are coming from. 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, which include:

  • Taxis: Available 24 hours a day from Zone 5 of the airport
  • Lyft/Uber: Follow signs for designated pickup areas
  • Shuttle services
  • Public transportation, including buses and trains to downtown Philadelphia and to University City

See the Philadelphia International Airport website for a full description of 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. 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. For a full description of all travel options, please see the Penn Travel and Expense Management website.

J-1 Scholars: complete mandatory check-in requirementsverified

All J-1 scholars are required to complete the J-1 Scholar Orientation and Arrival Form in iPenn and virtually check in with an ISSS specialist.

The check-in process should be completed within 10 days of the program start date on your DS-2019. If your scheduled arrival date has changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak or other circumstances, you should contact your department administrator regarding your new scheduled arrival start date.

Fall 2020 note: While we would normally meet you in person to guide you through the check-in process, ISSS is currently operating remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please do not come to our office until we resume in-person operations.

 

translate

Adapt

Now that you're here, it's time to learn about all of the resources available to you as an international scholar/employee at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Get adjusted

Review housing options home

There are many off-campus housing options available to international scholars and employees. When choosing a neighborhood, you should take a number of things into account, including the length of the commute to campus and schooling options (for scholars and employees with children). Many Penn faculty and staff members choose to live in West Philadelphia in neighborhoods such as Spruce Hill and Cedar Park, from where campus is accessible within a short trolley or bus ride, walk, or bike trip.  

Finding housing in a new country can be intimidating. Penn Off-Campus Services is available to help you navigate the process of finding a place to live in Philadelphia. You can also search for current rental listings

More: Housing

Stay safe security

In 2020, Penn's Division of Public Safety (DPS) was chosen as Security Magazine’s #1 Public Safety program in the Higher Education Sector for the 13th consecutive year! DPS offers 24/7 Walking Escort Services, a 24/7 mental health HELP line, free on-call transit services and a wide variety of other initiatives meant to educate the Penn community on how to be safe and secure on campus and in Philadelphia. 

info Make sure your contact information in the Penn Directory is accurate to receive safety updates from DPS. See here for instructions on updating your information.

More: Staying Safe

Plan your finances attach_money

Take advantage of a free, confidential financial consultation through Penn's Employee Assistance Program. Consult the Penn Human Resources website for Penn-specific advice on saving, managing life events, and other topics. 

Stay well healing

If you're confused by all of the options for healthcare and medical insurance in the United States, don't worry - this topic can be confusing even for American citizens! This glossary might help you gain an understanding of some of the concepts involved in the American healthcare system. There are many world-class hospitals and clinics in Philadelphia, and your access to them will depend on your insurance coverage. Scholars and employees at Penn should work with their academic departments to determine what arrangements, if any, have been made for health insurance.

Scholars and families of scholars are not eligible to use Student Health Services. You can call the University of Pennsylvania Health System at 1-800-789-PENN to obtain a directory of Penn primary care physicians or you may want to get references from friends and colleagues. Information about Penn's support of wellness, stress management, and work-life balance for employees is available on the Penn HR website.

J-1 Scholars: Remember that you are required to have insurance meeting certain standards and coverage levels for the entirety of your program at Penn. More information about the insurance requirements for J-1 scholars is available here.

More: Healthcare & Medical Insurance

Get connected devices

Penn Information Systems and Computing (ISC) provides robust IT service to all members of the Penn community. For information about all of the services ISC provides, see this page.

You may also find yourself confused by the options for getting connected to a mobile phone service, which may be different in the US than in your home country. The below guide will help you navigate these options. 

More: Get Connected 

Explore resources for families escalator_warning

There are more than 2,000 students and scholars with spouses, partners, or children at Penn. Over 20% of the students in the graduate and professional schools live with their spouses or partners. Penn's Family Resource Center is one of the many places you can turn to help you and your family thrive at Penn and in the United States.

More: Resources for Families

 

follow_the_signs

Explore

After you've had time to adapt to your new surroundings, you can begin to explore, make connections, and start to feel at home at Penn, in Philadelphia, and in the United States. 

Find your communityperson_add

See this page for an overview of faculty and staff organizations at Penn. Networking opportunities for Penn faculty and staff are primarily centered around specific disciplines and Schools, so you should check with your colleagues and supervisors to learn more about how you can get involved in your community. Here is a small sample of engagement opportunities for scholars and employees: 

You can also reach out to one of Penn's many campus resource centers to inquire about opportunities to get engaged. 

Finally, see the Penn Community Service Directory for an overview of the many volunteer and community service opportunities available to you.

Important: When accepting a volunteer or community service opportunity, make sure that it does not violate the terms of your stay in the United States as a scholar or employee. Generally speaking, you may accept any volunteer opportunity that would not otherwise be filled by a person receiving financial compensation.

Finally, there are many opportunities available through the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.    

Review shopping and dining options near campus local_dining

West Philadelphia is truly a cultural melting pot. From cozy Ethiopian cafes to busy Mediterranean food trucks to bustling chain supermarkets, you won't have to look far to find a shop or restaurant that suits your tastes. Have a look at the Shops at Penn website to familiarize yourself with some of the shopping and dining options near campus.

Find your way aroundairport_shuttle

Penn Transit provides a comprehensive transportation system on and around campus within specific boundaries. Additionally, Philadelphia has an extensive bus, trolley, and subway system managed by the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). For day trips outside of Philadelphia, there are many affordable transportation options that connect Philadelphia to places like New York City and Washington, DC. As an international scholar or employee, you may also be able to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver's License

More: Getting around

Get to know Philadelphialocation_city

As the fifth-largest city in the United States, Philadelphia (the "City of Brotherly Love") has something for everyone. Here are some resources to help you learn more about your new home: