Hiring Department Information and Resources

The Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising has a number of different units that assist with foreign nationals:

  • The Faculty Advising Unit primarily assists with the hiring of foreign nationals who will be employed via one of the following work-eligible visa statuses: H-1B, TN, E-3, O-1 and employment-based permanent residency via filing the required visa/immigration petitions and ongoing advising related to their immigration/employment status.
  • The J-1 Scholar Advising Unit primarily assists J-1 exchange visitors who are at Penn State temporarily as a visiting Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar or a Professor with regard to issuing their appropriate immigration documentation and ongoing advising related to their immigration/employment status.
  • The Student Advising Unit primarily advises and guides international students with regard to the appropriate immigration documentation.

Working with the Faculty Advising Unit

When hosting/hiring foreign nationals, our best advice is to START THE PROCESS AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Getting an H-1B visa can take between 4-6 months, and while the J-1 process may be faster, it can still take up to 3-4 months. Plan ahead.

Before you start the request for visa sponsorship on behalf of a newly hired foreign national, you may want to secure the following answers from the foreign national first:

  • What is their home country of citizenship?
  • Where are they currently living? Are they already in the US?
  • Will they be paid? By whom? Will there be any other source of income? If so, from where and how much?
  • What is their field of interest?
  • Do they have a degree (bachelor's degree or higher) in the appropriate field? (Penn State requires a Ph.D. for the speciallty occupation H-1B visa)
  • What will be their basic duties? What is the purpose of their stay in the US?
  • What are their plans at the end of their stay? Do they want to remain in the US permanently?
  • Will their dependent family members accompany them and if so, will they require visa sponsorship as well? Is the intent to have them work or study while here?

Hiring Department Steps (H-1B, TN, E-3, O-1 and LPR)

Hiring Department Steps

  1. Review Possible Visa Options (Word / PDF)
  2. Review the iStart Departmental User Guide (Word / PDF)
  3. Review Process Flowchart for Hiring a Foreign National
    • Overview of Process from Job Posting to Initiating Visa Sponsorship (Word / PDF)
    • Overview of Process from After Faculty Advising Initial Review and Recommendation to Position Start Date / I-9 Appointment:
      • Tenure/Tenure-Track Positions (Word / PDF)
      • Non-Tenure/Tenure Track Positions (Word / PDF)
  4. Request Access to iStart (DISSA's immigration management system)
    • You'll find step-by-step instructions in the iStart Departmental User Guide (Word / PDF)
  5. Gather Required Documentation identified in the eForm Overview & Breakdown
  6. Secure Penn State 9-Digit ID # on behalf of the Foreign National
  7. Access iStart
  8. If Foreign National is NEW to Penn State:
  • Frist create a profile by completing the Add New Person eForm
  • We recommend securing a copy of the foreign national's passport before you complete this eForm so that you can match the profile name exactly to the passport name
  • Be sure to select "SCHOLARS" as the campus location
  1. Complete and Submit the Faculty: New Offer Notification eForm
  2. Follow Faculty Advising's Recommendation for Next Steps
  • If the recommendation is to proceed with visa sponsorship for H-1B, for example, the next steps may include:
    • Complete and submit either the Faculty: Initial Visa Sponsorship (Tenure/Tenure-Track) or the Faculty: Initial Visa Sponsorship (Non-Tenure/Tenure-Track) eForm
      • eForm Overview & Breakdown
      • Please Note: Most visa requests will need to be initiated in iStart AT LEAST 4-6 months in advance of the anticiapted employment/visa start date, if not submitted as requested, Faculty Advising cannot guarantee that the foreign national will be able to begin his/her position as anticipated
  1. Ensure Foreign National Checks-in with Department/Campus Representative Upon Arrival/By Start Date
  2. Ensure Foreign National Completes Online Documentation eForm in iStart Upon Arrival/By Start Date
  • Foreign Nationals have to complete page #1 of I-9 NO LATER THAN FIRST DAY OF EMPLOYMENT
  • Upon receipt of this eForm, Faculty Advising will contact Foreign Nationals who will be based at the UP campus to schedule and appointment to meet with the adviser and complete the I-9 process
  • Foreign Nationals who will be based at Non-UP campuses will be directed to meet with a campus representative to complete his/her I-9
    • Campus representatives will then need to log into their iStart checklist for the specific foreign national and complete the Faculty: I-9 Upload eForm
    • Faculty Advising will then review and update in the Penn State system accordingly
  1. Foreign Nationals Offered Tenure/Tenure-Track Positions:
  • Due to extremely time sensitive processes related to sponsorship for permanent residency, we need the department contacts to complete the Departmental Special Handling Questionnaire eForm and Departmental Permanent Residency Recruitment Documentation eForm as soon as possible, but they must be submitted within 4-6 months of the foreign national's OFFER DATE
  1. Foreign Nationals with Visas Sponsored by Penn State:
  • Extensions and/or amendments are requested by completing and submitting the Faculty: Extend/Amend PSU Visa Sponsorship eForm
  • Please Note: Extensions should be initiated at least 3-4 months prior to the current visa end dates in order to prevent gaps in payroll and/or violations of visa status