Resources for International Students

Here you will find information on applying for a Social Security Number, driving in Pennsylvania and how to obtain a license, and work options. For more detailed information, do not hesitate to contact the Office of International Affairs. 

Applying for a Social Security Number

Having a Social Security Number (SSN) is a big responsibility. For international students, the only reason you will need to apply for a SSN is to be paid for work. For things like getting a driver's license, you can apply for a non-eligibility letter instead of a SSN. Please consult with Meredith at OIA before you apply for a SSN.

If you do receive a SSN for work, it is important to know that you will need to pay taxes. It is also very important to keep your SSN safe. Most Americans DO NOT carry their social security card in their wallet. It is best to memorize your SSN and leave the card in a safe place at home.

Please read the following rules for applying for both an SSN and a non-eligibility letter. Speak with Meredith before beginning either process.

Application Procedure

Complete the application form (Form SS-5) ONLY if you are applying for a social security card, not a non-eligibility letter.

Take the completed application form and identification documents to the Social Security Administration Office.

You will need to bring

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Arcadia ID
  • I-94 (print at www.cbp.gov/i94)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Letter of Enrollment from OIA
  • Employment Eligibility Letter (ONLY if you are applying for a social security card)

We recommend the Center City office. It is located at:

2 Penn Center Suite 2000B
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Office Hours are Monday through Friday 9AM to 3:30PM. You can reach it by taking the train from Glenside Station to Suburban Station.    Please consult with Meredith before beginning this process!

Driving in Pennsylvania

International students who want to buy or drive a vehicle must know Pennsylvania state vehicle and driving laws. All drivers MUST have auto insurance and a valid driver’s license. You can obtain more detailed information, application, and PA Driver’s Manual at www.dmv.state.pa.us

If you have never driven a vehicle in PA, you will have to apply for a Learner’s Permit and take a written test. After learning how to drive, applicants must take a road test to obtain a driver’s license. The driver’s license application also includes a physical exam that can be conducted at a doctor’s office or at a CVS Minute Clinic.

In order to apply for a driver’s license, a student’s program must show duration of at least 12 months on your I-20 or DS-2019 when applying. You must also wait at least 10 days from the day you enter the United States to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

You must bring the following items when applying:

  • Social Security Card OR  a non-eligibility letter from the Social Security Administration . (for more information on SSN, please see "Your Social Security Number", above.)
  • Application Form found at dmv.state.pa.us
  • Official letter from OIA verifying enrollment
  • Two proofs of residency (lease agreement, utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
  • Check or money order for $34.50

Students must apply in person at any Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Office that offers Driver’s License/Learner’s Permit Services. Locations can be found online. Most PennDOT Offices are open Monday-Saturday 8:30am-4:15pm. You should always double check the hours of the location you will go to at dmv.org/pa-pennsylvania/dmv-office-finder.php

Please meet with Meredith in OIA to discuss obtaining your driver's license further!

 

Work Options

With an F-1 visa, international students can obtain authorization for the following types of work: Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), and on-campus positions. Students are not permitted to work off campus, unless it authorized and related to their degree. Please discuss your options with Meredith before starting any sort of work. Below, you can find more information about applying for each of these options.

OPT

Employment under Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for a minimum of one academic year.  If a student has engaged in unlawful employment, s/he is no longer eligible for practical training.  A student may be authorized for 12 months of practical training and becomes eligible for another 12 months when he or she pursues another degree.

Eligibility
  • Employment must be directly related to the student’s major area of study but a specific job offer is not necessary for the OPT application. 
  • Application for OPT can take up to 90 days.  Students can apply up to 90 days before the end date of the I-20 or up to 60 days after the end date of the I-20.  Most students apply for OPT to begin after degree completion, but it is possible to begin before graduation.  However, students can only work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session but can work full-time during school breaks.
  • All practical training must be completed within 14 months of the program completion date on the I-20.
Application Procedures
  1. Make an appointment with OIA.
  2. Prepare and bring the following documents:
    • Completed I-765 Form 
    • Copy of the passport ID page, F-1 visa stamp and I-94 card (back & front)
    • Two passport-sized photographs, as defined by government regulations. 
    • New SEVIS I-20 with amended note regarding OPT application AND copies of all previous I-20.
    • Personal check or money order for $410 payable to US Department of Homeland Security.
  3. Mail the completed I-765, check and supporting documents to:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

CPT

Employment under curricular practical training (CPT) is available to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for a minimum of one academic year.  CPT includes internships, practicum, research and clinical rotations.  If a student engages in unlawful employment, s/he is no longer eligible for practical training. 

  • CPT must be an integral and required part of an established curriculum. 
  • CPT requires a job offer before authorization.
  • CPT must be authorized and completed prior to graduation.
  • CPT can be paid or unpaid but students must have a Social Security Number if it is paid. Students should make sure that Social Security and Medicare taxes are not taken out of their paycheck.
  • CPT can be authorized for up to 12 months.  However, students who work full-time for the full 12 months, become ineligible for OPT.  Part-time CPT does not count against the amount of time for OPT.  Students become eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level.
Application Procedures

1. Schedule an appointment with OIA.

2. Bring with you evidence that CPT is a required component of your degree, for example:

  • Letter from your Academic Advisor
  • Arcadia University Catalogue stating the requirement
  • Course Syllabus requiring a work component

3. Also bring a letter from your Employer that provides:

  • Start and end date of employment
  • Number of hours per week
  • Location of employment
  • Job description

On Campus

Undergraduates

Undergraduates looking to work on campus should talk to staff in the One Stop Shop. They will help you find a placement. Remember that once you find a position, you will need to make an appointment with OIA to discuss Social Security Numbers.       

Graduates

Graduates can work on campus as Graduate Assistants. Graduate assistants are considered special contractors, and work on personal projects that a department will identify. If you are interested in being a Graduate Assistant, you can talk to Lindsay McGann in the Graduate Studies office. She will post your resume for departments to view and consider. Remember that once you find a position, you will need to make an appointment with OIA to discuss Social Security Numbers.