Current International Students

Current International Students

Current Students

Things you need to know: 

Driver's License


In order to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver's license or State ID, you must:

  • Have an active SEVIS account (you can check this on the iStart home page).
  • Your SEVIS record is active once you have successfully completed Mandatory Document Check-In and continue to maintain your F-1 status.

Here are the instructions for applying for a Learner's Permit and Driver's License.

Travel Signature


In order to return to the United States from traveling overseas, you MUST have a valid travel signature on your I-20. Travel signatures are valid for 1 year from the time that your I-20 is signed, as long as your visa status is still active.

Follow these steps to receive a travel signature on your I-20:

  • To complete the eForm via iStart - Click on “Other Requests” then click on “Travel Signature.”
  • When you submit the form, it will be reviewed in 2-3 business days. You will then receive a follow-up (more information or a correction is needed), approval, or denial email.
  • You must be enrolled full-time for the current semester (unless you have prior approval from DISSA to drop below) and have no registration holds on your LionPath account.
  • You also must have a permanent (home country) and local (Erie) address, and four phone numbers including your mobile, local, emergency cell, and permanent (# in your home country) in LionPath.
  • If approved, you must show or print that email and bring this with your I-20 and photo ID to the International Student Services office in 11 Erie Hall to be signed by your Designated School Official (DSO), Barb Zarnick.

Change Your Address

It is your responsibility to always keep your permanent address (in your home country) and your local address (in the U.S.) current at all times! You can change your address through LionPath. Also, remember to change your local address with any companies that might send you mail (health insurance, magazines, bills, etc.) and change your address on your Driver's License

Health Insurance

Here is a website that helps to explain common insurance terms, which can be quite confusing at first.

Health Insurance Plan for 2018-19

The Penn State health insurance policy can be purchased through the First Student website. The First Student plan will have a premium of $2,619.00. You must enroll in the fall/annual health insurance plan by September 4, 2018 to avoid the late fee. There is still an option to purchase an alternate policy and fill out a waiver form, however Student Medicover and ISO are no longer acceptable alternate policies to purchase. Do not purchase an alternate policy until you know that the policy meets ALL of the waiver standards completely. Contact the company that you are considering using to give them the waiver standards for them to confirm this. To see more information about the health insurance requirement as well as the waiver standards, please visit the University Health Services website.

Late Fee

There is a $50.00 late fee for students who fail to fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement by the established semester deadline. There is a $100.00 late fee for students who don't fulfill the mandatory health insurance requirement the second and any subsequent times. Late fees must be paid in the form of a Money Order. Money Orders can be purchased at many gas stations like GetGo or Country Fair, Walmart, PNC Bank, Giant Eagle, and most other banks or post offices.


Required Immunizations

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) - To satisfy the requirement, you must have 2 doses of Measles (Rubeola), 2 doses of Mumps and 1 dose of Rubella OR 2 doses of the MMR vaccine OR provide blood test results showing immunity.The first dose must have been given on or after your first birthday. Dose 2 must have been given at least 4 weeks after dose 1.
  • Meningococcal - required if living in University Housing - Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4): also known as Menveo, Menactra. This vaccine is effective against the most common meningococcal infections caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. One dose of meningococcal vaccine administered at age 16 or older is required of all incoming students living in University housing who are age 21 or younger. Incoming students living in University Housing who are age 22 or older may submit either proof of vaccination or a Meningococcal Vaccine Waiver. *NOTE not all Meningococcal vaccines are acceptable. Make sure that you have the correct type of Meningococcal vaccine before receiving the immunization.

To see list of the other recommended (but not required) immunizations, visit the University Health Services website.

How to Provide Proof of Immunizations

For instructions on how to submit your immunization records, please visit the Submission Requirements page of the University Health Services website.

English Language Practice

The BEAM (Behrend ESL Alliance of Mentors) Program offers an opportunity for students who are learning English and would like extra practice to be paired up with a native or high-level English speaker in a mentor/mentee relationship to learn from each other. The mentor shares:

  • Their own experiences learning the English language.
  • Practices or techniques which helped them become more skilled in the English language.
  • Pronunciation, idioms, slang, expressions, and other characteristics of the language.
  • Cultural facts and anecdotes from their countries of origin.

For more information about the program, visit the BEAM website.

Off-Campus Employment

Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training

If you are an F student, you have the option of working in the United States by engaging in practical training during your program or after it ends. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. There are two common types of practical training available for F-1 students: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).


  • CPT is training that is an integral part of an established curriculum and is available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year.
  • Training must be in your field of study and a required part of your program. If the opportunity is not required, but is an important part of your program, it must be credit-bearing.
  • You can work on CPT either full-time or part-time; full-time CPT, if not required of your program, is only authorized during vacation periods.
  • Students who accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop you from pursuing OPT.
  • Please visit the DISSA website for application and authorization procedures regarding CPT.
  • You cannot begin CPT employment until DISSA authorizes the training and you are issued a new Form I-20; you also may not work beyond the authorized dates on your I-20.


  • Post-Completion OPT is the most common type of OPT and begins after students complete their degrees.
  • OPT employment must relate to your field of study.
  • Students may apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level (i.e. you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the master’s level).
  • You are eligible to apply 90 days prior to your program end date (for undergraduate students this is based on graduation) and no later than 60 days after your program end date.
  • You must request a new I-20 with the OPT recommendation through iStart. There is a portion of the eForm your adviser will need to complete as well. For more information about completing the OPT eForm and the application process visit DISSA's website.
  • After you obtain the OPT recommendation I-20, you also must file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay a filing fee ($410).
  • If approved for OPT, USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). You may not begin working until you receive the EAD card and only within your authorized dates of employment.
  • We encourage you to attend any workshops offered on campus to learn more about the OPT process.

Please contact Barb Zarnick ( in the International Student Services office for more information and specifics on how to apply for CPT or OPT.

On-Campus Employment

You are allowed to work on campus part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the semester and full-time during academic breaks and in the summer.

Here is a list of current on-campus job opportunities. The jobs that you can hold are called Wage Payroll positions (not Federal or State Work-Study). Additionally, the job postings from Housing and Dining can be found here.

The employment process is as follows:

  • Apply for the on-campus job that interests you. You may be required to submit a resume/cover letter and participate in a brief interview.
  • Once hired, request an offer of employment letter on letterhead that includes your name, job description, employment start date, Penn State Employment Identification Number (EIN), employer/supervisor contact information and employer's original signature.
  • Request the DISSA Social Security letter in iStart and upload the employer letter. You will be notified via email when this letter is ready to collect from 11 Erie Hall.
  • Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Follow these instructions to learn what documents you need to bring along with your completed Social Security Application.
  • You will get a receipt from the Social Security office indicating that you have applied for a Social Security Number (SSN). Take this to your hiring department for further instructions and assistance with completing the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) and W-4 paperwork.