International Student Work-Study

Quick Facts
  • International students are limited to on-campus employment, which is defined as working for Penn, on Penn Payroll, and on Penn premises. 

  • 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.

  • A student cannot begin working until the supervisor appoints the student online to a job number. New student employees are required to complete University onboarding tasks through Workday@Penn and Onboard@Penn.

  • 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.


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.

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)

  • International House

  • Monell Chemical Senses Center

  • Red and Blue Call Center

  • The Wistar Institute

  • Unique Advantage or any agency under different EINs

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 non-Penn sites – for more information meet with an ISSS advisor.

Tips for finding a job:

  • 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.

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 must first have an on-campus job offer. The instructions and application for Social Security: On-Campus Work Authorization for F-1 and J-1 Students are located at the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website.

Job Appointment and Required Documents

The supervisor will appoint the student to a job number in the Student Employment Management System (SEMS) 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.

New student employees are required to complete onboarding, which includes filled out federal forms, W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate), and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), as well as other documents for non-resident aliens. The employing department's business administrator will begin the onboarding process and instructions will be sent to the student employee via email. After completing the online onboarding tasks in Workday@Penn, new student employees will complete in-person tasks at Onboard@Penn located on campus. Schedule and appointment and learn more at Onboard@Penn

How Are Student Employees Paid?

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

Beginning July 1, all student workers who receive their pay from Penn will enter their time on Workday@Penn, the University's new human resources and payroll platform. 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 entering time in Workday.

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.

Workday@Penn Resources: You may access self-service tip sheets and videos, available 24/7, to assist you in navigating Workday@Penn, entering time, understanding your pay slip, or changing your pay elections (direct deposit).

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.