Human Resources Policies

HR26 Matters Involving Foreign Nationals Employed by the University

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Lori Yacisin, 814-865-9343,

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Human Resources





To insure compliance with Federal laws in regard to certification, petitions, immigration and visa matters as related to employment of foreign nationals with the University.


The Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) in the University Office of Global Programs (UOGP) is responsible for representing the University in signing all applications for labor certification as well as certificates, petitions and visa forms for aliens employed by the University and their families. This office is also responsible for alien students employed after graduation from another institution during periods of practical training.

DISSA is also responsible for all aliens in any student status, including those employed after graduation from Penn State during periods of practical training.


The following procedure shall be followed when negotiating for the employment of an alien:

  1. Before making a binding commitment concerning employment, the dean or administrative officer will inform DISSA through of the intent to employ a citizen of another country. DISSA (the International Scholars Advising unit) is responsible for determining whether or not the visa of the alien is such that the alien can legally be considered for University employment. (Because of visa restrictions, some aliens are not permitted to accept employment.)
  2. DISSA has the responsibility for preparing and submitting petitions to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in accordance with the procedures established by DOL and the DHS. In some instances, a representative of the University may be required to respond, either in writing or in person, to various proceedings. DISSA will represent the University; however, any costs incurred by DISSA will be reimbursed by the appropriate University college or department.
  3. When employment is approved, the DISSA will notify the alien in writing of his/her visa or immigration status, indicating any time limits or conditions which might affect his/her employment and will outline any procedures to be followed by the alien in maintaining his/her status. A copy of this letter will be sent to the appropriate Human Resources Representative or Director of Business Services. Any questions concerning the status of the alien should be directed DISSA at
  4. The expenses connected with the handling of immigration matters, such as filing fees, express mail, cables, etc., shall be the responsibility of the employing college or department or the alien.
  5. An Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) must be completed and signed as follows:
    1. At University Park in DISSA in the University Office of Global Programs in Boucke Building.
    2. At the College of Medicine at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in the Office of Human Resources.
    3. At all other locations, in the Office of the Director of Business Services.


Students who seek part-time employment, including graduate assistantships, should first consult with the DISSA (the International Student Advising unit) in the University Office of Global Programs on the 4th floor of Boucke Building to be sure that such employment is permissible, and to complete the I-9 and W-4 forms.

Full-time employment by the University can be approved during vacation periods if the student was full time during the previous semester and will be full time for the subsequent semester or under Practical Training (see HR84) following completion of the degree program.


International students on F-1 or J-1 visas can be employed on-campus only as long as they are in good academic standing and are enrolled as full-time students. Because employment cannot exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session, International students may not hold 3/4 time assistantships. Employment may be full-time during vacation periods for students who are eligible and intend to register for the subsequent academic semester.

On-campus employment is not permitted after completion of a program unless the student has either completed the transaction procedures from one educational level to another at Penn State or has been authorized for practical training.

DISSA is responsible for completing the I-9 and W-4 form for international students.


International students who are in F-1 or J-1 immigration status are permitted to apply for periods of practical training after completion of their degree programs. Applications must be submitted to the international student adviser in DISSA. Current processing requires completion electronic forms (eForms) by the student through the DISSA system called iStart. and once the student submits the eForm, the academic adviser will received an email with access to an eForm to verify the status of the student. For a full description of Practical Training, refer to HR84.


Any foreign national who desires to continue employment with the University upon the completion of a period of practical (or academic) training must make application to DHS for permission to change visa status. This application should be prepared with the concurrence of DISSA’s Scholars Advising unit. DISSA shall be responsible for preparing the necessary petition to be submitted DHS requesting that the foreign national be granted either a J-1 or an H-1B non-immigrant visa. No foreign national shall be permitted to remain on the University payroll without specific approved permission from DHS.


The spouse and/or children of aliens on F-1 student visas cannot be employed. There is no exception or special permission available. The spouse and/or children of aliens on J-1 visas may apply for permission to work from DHS. Such permission, if granted, will be noted on an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

The I-9 for a J-2 with employment authorization is completed by DISSA.


An Alien Information Request Form shall be completed by each faculty or staff member who is not a United States citizen.

Date Approved: 

August 7, 2014

Date Published: 

August 7, 2014

Effective Date: 

August 7, 2014