International Student Work-Study
International Student Work-Study
  1. Quick Facts

  2. Overview

  3. How to Find a Job

  4. Social Security Number

  5. Online Job Appointment Form/Documentation

  6. How Are Student Employees Paid

  7. University Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources

  8. Frequently Asked Questions
1. Quick Facts
  • International students are limited to on-campus employment, which is defined as working for Penn, on Penn Payroll, and on Penn premises (see Section 3 for more information).
  • It is the student's responsibility to conduct a job search, apply for jobs, interview, and be hired. You can search for jobs on the Student Employment website.
  • You need to have a Social Security Number in order to work in the United States, but you need to secure a job first in order to apply for the Social Security Number (see Section 4).
  • A student cannot begin working until the supervisor appoints the student online to a job number.
  • A student is limited to two jobs at any given time.
  • When classes are in session, students (full-time or part-time) are not permitted to work more than a total of 20 hours per week.
  • During school breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring), F-1 students may work full-time, up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.
  • Students employed on-campus are paid weekly by the employing Penn department.

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2. Overview

International Student Work-Study is a Student Financial Services subsidized work program, which provides on-campus employment opportunities to eligible international undergraduate students only during the academic year (fall/spring). While the program offers a variety of job opportunities, a student is encouraged to seek work related to a student's course of study.

A work-study award represents the maximum earnings potential while employed under the program, up to the total amount of your award.  The work-study award is not deducted from the student's University tuition bill. The student is paid for those hours actually worked.

Work-Study employment can benefit a student in several ways:

  • Pay for personal expenses
  • Improve time management skills
  • Help build a student's resume
  • Serve as a reference for future employment

If a student chooses not to use their work-study award, it will not affect the student's current financial aid package, or future eligibility for work-study.

A student may postpone working until the spring semester. However, the availability of jobs may be limited.

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3. How to Find a Job

International students are limited to on-campus employment, which is defined as working for Penn, on Penn Payroll, and on Penn premises.  For more information, and for off-campus work authorization, meet with an International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) advisor.

It is the student's responsibility to conduct a job search, apply for jobs, interview, and be hired. A student may only work for a supervisor who has a job listed on the Student Employment website.

Each job listing contains the supervisor's contact information. It is important for the student to follow the supervisor's instructions. Since a supervisor may have more than one job listed, note the job number.

The student must present a copy of their class schedule to the supervisor at the time of the interview, in order to ensure there is no conflict between class times and the work schedule.

Not all Penn affiliates or entities are considered on-campus employment sites for immigration purposes.  The following examples are considered non-Penn sites:

  • CHOP (including Pediatrics)
  • Christian Association
  • Hillel
  • International House
  • Monell Chemical Senses Center
  • Penn Newman Center
  • The Daily Pennsylvanian
  • The Wistar Institute
  • AppleOne Employment Services

This is not an exhaustive list of non-Penn sites. Therefore, you must check with International Student and Scholar Service (ISSS) to make sure your employment will be considered on-campus employment.

Special permission from ISSS/DHS is required to work at these non-Penn sites – for more information meet with an ISSS advisor.

  • If you have not already done so, prepare a resume. When a supervisor has multiple inquiries about a job, the supervisor may use the resume to select students to be interviewed.
  • When applying for a job, include in the subject line of your e-mail the job number and title. Your e-mail should give a brief synopsis of your work experience and skills, and any other information you believe is relevant.
  • Apply for more than one job. Keep your options open.
  • Be prompt for the interview, and dress appropriately.
  • If you do not receive a response from a supervisor within a reasonable amount of time, you may send a friendly reminder expressing your continued interest in the job.

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4. Social Security Number

New student employees will need a valid Social Security Number in order to work in the United States. Before applying for a Social Security Number, you need to have an on-campus job first.  The instructions and application for Social Security: On-Campus Work Authorization for F-1 and J-1 Students is located at the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website. After applying for a Social Security Number, it generally takes 10 business days for your card to arrive, so plan accordingly.

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5. Online Job Appointment Form

Through the supervisor’s Student Employment Management System (SEMS) account, a student is appointed online by the supervisor to a job number using the student's Penn ID number.  An e-mail confirming the student's job appointment will be sent to the student, supervisor, and department SEMS coordinator.

Required Documents

New International Student employees must present the following documents to the employing department's business administrator:

  • FNIF (Completed Foreign National Information Form) is available.
  • Social Security Card (Copy of Social Security Card OR copy of the receipt for application for a Social Security Number - Form 5028)
  • Foreign Passport
  • I-94 (Copy of INS arrival/departure record)
  • I-20 (Copy of INS Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student
  • DS-2019 (Copy of INS Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) status and written work authorization from OIP-ISSS (valid up to 12 months at a time)

The employing department’s business administrator will require the student to complete a W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification).

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6.  How Are Student Employees Paid?

University regulations require that weekly hours must be supported by a listing of clock hours worked for each student.

The web-based application e-timesheets are used for non-exempt employees, including students, to submit their weekly hours electronically. A student’s hours cannot be held for a period of time, and then submitted all at once. University regulations require that a student employee must be paid weekly. The employing department will instruct the student regarding the procedures for completing the weekly e-timesheet.

A student cannot be paid for lunch, holidays, sick time, and other time off, or for receiving instruction in the classroom, laboratory, or other academic setting.

Work-Study wages are subject to the same federal, state, and local income taxes as any other earned income.

International students have the same taxes withheld that United States students do. Students that are from a country that has a tax treaty with the United States may be able to claim a refund of the taxes withheld when they file their yearly income tax returns. If you have any questions regarding taxation, please go to the Payroll Tax Office, Room 310 of the Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street. The service window hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

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7. University Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources

A student employee is required to comply with the University’s Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources as summarized below.

The policy is based on the principle that the electronic information environment is provided to support University business and its mission of education, research and service. Other uses are secondary.  Uses that threaten the integrity of the system; the function of non-University equipment that can be accessed through the system; the privacy or actual or perceived safety of others; or that are otherwise illegal are forbidden.

By using University electronic information systems you assume personal responsibility for their appropriate use and agree to comply with this policy and other applicable University policies, as well as City, State and Federal laws and regulations.

The policy defines penalties for infractions, up to and including loss of system access, employment termination or expulsion. In addition some activities may lead to risk of legal liability, both civil and criminal.

For more detailed information about the Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources, please go to the Office of the Provost at

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8. Frequently Asked Questions

While it is preferred that a student have one job, we recognize the need for a student to work an adequate number of hours per week (within established limits) in order to cover personal expenses. A student's number one priority is academic achievement.

The Student Employment Management System (SEMS) can only post two job appointments at any given time.  Therefore, a student is limited to two jobs at any given time.

A student must have permission from their supervisor and business administrator at the first job before seeking a second job. The supervisor and business administrator has the right to deny the student's request to work at a second job. Their decision is final.

A student's primary responsibility is their academic achievement and work cannot be a priority.

When school is in session on-campus employment is limited to part-time, which is 20 hours per week (i.e., you may work up to 20 hours per week).

During school breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring), F-1 students may work full-time, up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.

To have your pay automatically deposited into your United States checking or savings account, sign up for Direct Deposit.  Go to the Student Employment website and click Direct Deposit.  Once you complete the required information allow approximately 2 weeks for direct deposit to begin.

Student employees can view their pay stub online through the Penn portal website and follow the instructions below.

  • Under the General tab, go to Payroll and Tax section, click My Pay
  • Enter your PennKey and Password
  • Displays the most recent pay period. If you wish to view another pay period go to Issue Date and choose the pay period.

Student employees are not eligible for benefits such as sick pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, or unemployment compensation, but are eligible for Workers' Compensation under the provisions of Pennsylvania law. Workers' Compensation covers expenses for medical care from job-related injuries or occupational diseases sustained in the course of employment. A student who suffers a work related injury must report it immediately to their immediate supervisor. The supervisor must report on-the-job injuries to the department's business administrator promptly.

A student must be removed from the work-study payroll for the following reasons:

  • Graduates
  • Withdraws from the University
  • On leave of absence
  • Dismissed or suspended for academic or conduct reasons

An employed student who intends to withdraw from the program, or who wishes to change jobs within the semester, must inform their supervisor. A student is expected to give at least one week's notice before leaving a position. This gives the department the necessary time to find a replacement for the student, or to adjust the work schedules of remaining employees in order to offset the staffing shortage. Releasing a student from a job is done online by the supervisor. An e-mail confirming the student's release will be sent to the department's SEMS coordinator.

Withdrawal from the program will not jeopardize a student's chances of receiving work-study eligibility in future years.

It is the student's responsibility to report to work on time for every scheduled shift. If the student cannot work because of an illness, emergency, or will be late for work, the supervisor must be notified as early as possible before the shift begins. Potential conflicts should be discussed well in advance with the supervisor. Continued tardiness and failure to provide adequate prior notice of absence as determined by the supervisor are considered grounds for termination.

Requirements for attire are determined at the direction of the employing department.

A student and supervisor are encouraged to discuss any work-related problems. Experience has shown that most minor disagreements can be resolved by honest, non-confrontational discussion of the problem. An attempt should be made to informally resolve the disagreement between the student and the immediate supervisor. If the problem cannot be resolved within the department, the student should make an appointment with the Manager of Student Employment to discuss the problem.  Depending on the problem, a student may be referred to another University office for advice and resolution.

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