Frequently Asked Questions
You probably have a lot of questions before coming to Penn State Law, and we're dedicated to ensuring you have all the information you need. We've compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions below.
Q. I’ve received the admission email. What should I do next?
A. Congratulations! Yes, there are several things you need to do in order to be officially admitted. Please refer to the admittance letter for deposit instructions.
Q. Will you provide me the documents for my VISA application?
A. Yes, of course. Here’s the procedure:
A. Please visit the Global Penn State website for information about applying for a visa.
Q. When can I enter the United States?
A. Up to 30 days before the program start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. All students should enter the United States and check-in with ISSS prior to the start date listed on their I-20 or DS-2019.
Q. What materials will I need to enter the United States?
A. You will need your I-20 or DS-2019, valid US entry visa, passport, and admittance letter. Upon arrival at the port of entry, you will be issued an electronic I-94 arrival/departure record. To access this record, please go to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search
Q. How can I get to State College from my home country?
A. The most convenient way is to arrive at University Park Airport (SCE). United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta all have daily fights to the University Park Airport.
If you arrive on campus from nearby cities, including New York, Washington D.C, Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh, you can take Megabus or Greyhound.
Q. Will Penn State provide pick up service from the airport?
A. Penn State does not provide pick up services. The airport is a 10-minute drive from campus. Please visit https://global.psu.edu/article/transportation for information about other local transportation options.
One alternative is to seek help from the student association of your own country at Penn State. They will usually arrange pick-up services on individual basis. Look for these organizations here: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/hub/studentorgs/orgdirectory/
Taxi service is available. See: http://universityparkairport.com/passenger-info/taxis-shuttles/
Uber service is also available by accessing your "app."
Q. What housing options do I have here?
A. The Law School will provide temporary housing options for new international students upon your arrival. The information can be accessed at this site: https://arrival.psu.edu/pre-semester-housing
Here is a list of hotel options: http://www.visitpennstate.org/sleep/hotels-motels-&-inns/
For on campus living options, White Course Apartments, located on the west side of the University Park campus, provides a unique environment for full-time graduate students - singles, couples, and families. You can find more information here: http://housing.psu.edu/amenities-features
If you choose to live off campus, we have already prepared the information for you here: https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/housing-university-park
Q. Do I need to purchase a health insurance? And where can I get it?
A. Yes. You are required to obtain a health insurance plan for you and your family members according to the university’s policy. Information can be found here: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/requirements-international-students.
Please feel free to contact the Student Health Insurance office for more information:
Office 201 Student Health Center
University Health Services
Q. What are the requirements for immunization/vaccines?
A. See: http://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/office-student-services/policies-procedures-and-resources/immunization-requirements
Q. I have some questions about my Penn State Access Account. What is it? What can I do with it?
A. A Penn State Access Account is a digital identity for students, faculty, staff, and designated PSU affiliates. The electronic profile grants permission to users for protected online PSU resources and services. Access Accounts provide access to the PSU community at all times, while maintaining a high level of security.
The following link contains everything you need to know about your Access Account: http://www.identity.psu.edu/services/authentication-services/access-accounts/
Q. How do I obtain my student ID and Penn State email address?
A. During your first two weeks at Penn State Law, we will help you obtain your student ID card as well as email address. We will convene a new student orientation where you can learn about everything you need to know in order to live and study at Penn State.
Q. Can I bring my wife/husband/children/parents to the United States during my residency?
A. Yes. They can apply for a Visa as your dependents. See: https://global.psu.edu/category/dependents-spouse-children
Q. Is child care service available? What about public schools in State College?
A. For information about child care resources, please visit: http://ohr.psu.edu/employee-and-family-resources/your-family/child-care-resources
For information about public schools, please see: http://www.scasd.org/
Instruction Guide for I20 / DS2019
1. Go to https://istart.gp.psu.edu/istart/controllers/start/StartEngine.cfm and log in to your Penn State Account. Most new students need to log in through limited services.
2. Click on the “a. New Student Forms” button on the left.
3. If you are a new student and never applied for I20/DS2019 before, click the “Initial I-20/DS2019” button, then follow the instruction to fill out forms and required areas.
4. Click on “which visa document are you requesting?” If you are coming to Penn State Law as an LLM student, please choose F1 student visa. If you are an exchange student, please choose J1 student visa.
5. Click “confirm your career path” and choose “Law School”. Notice: Even if you are an exchange student, please choose “law school”. DO NOT choose “Non-Degree”, or you will NOT receive your DS2019.
6. After you choose “law school”, additional questions follow. Under “Which Law School will you attend?”, please choose “Penn State Law at the University Park Campus”. After you choose Penn State Law, you will see the name of your Primary Contact for your department. Please use the name and address provided to fill out the next question: “Name of the Primary Contact for your department”.
7. Fill out other questions according to your own situations. After you answer all questions and click on submit, your status will become “pending”. At this point, you have completed the first step to your I20/DS2019 application process. You should await approval from DISSA before taking further actions. Please allow up to 3 weeks for the review process to conclude. You will be contacted by email when your submission has been reviewed.
Q. How should I pay for my tuition bill?
A. The tuition bill should be paid during each semester in residence. That means you need to pay your bills at the beginning of each semester. Several options are available. Please see: https://bursar.psu.edu/payment-options
Also, you can split your tuition bill into three payments each semester via the Installment Payment Plan. See: http://www.bursar.psu.edu/payplans.cfm
Q. I have some questions about my tuition bill...
A. Please see: https://bursar.psu.edu/payment-options#Installment
For further information, please contact:
Ms. Shannon Millan
Lewis Katz Building, Room 240
Q. How do I select my courses?
A. Penn State Law will assign an academic adviser to you. You will consult with your academic adviser to plan your schedule for both required and elective courses.
Visit our registration webpage for more information.
For more questions on course registration, please contact:
Penn State Law Registrar
208 Lewis Katz Building
Q. When do classes start? When do classes end? What about holidays?
A. Please check the academic calendar: http://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/information-current-students/registrar/academic-calendars
Q. May I extend to a 3rd semester for my LL.M. program?
A. You may continue third semester studies under certain circumstances. Please find the information in the Academic Handbook: http://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/llm_academic_handbook
Professor Richard Settgast
Lewis Katz Building, Room 222
Q. My school/employer/sponsor wants me to provide an academic verification. How do I obtain it?
A. You can obtain verification from the university registrar. See link here: http://www.registrar.psu.edu/enrollment_verifications/enrollment_verification_services.cfm
Q. Will you provide GPA letters at the end of each semester/after graduation?
A. We will provide GPA letters upon request. Please contact:
Ms. Jing Hu
Lewis Katz Building, Room 208B
Q. How to request my transcripts?
A. If you need an official transcripts, please follow the instructions here https://www.registrar.psu.edu/transcripts/official-transcripts.cfm.
Q. May I have the option to concentrate my study in the specialized fields?
A. LL.M. students have the option to concentrate their studies in one or more of the law school's 21 specialized fields of study during their one-year program. See https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/academics/specialized-fields-study. LL.M. students must earn a minimum of 9 credits in that specialized field. A minimum grade of ‘C’ is required for each course being used toward a concentration. Upon verification of completion, students will receive a document of recognition. Students may earn multiple concentrations.
Part-Time Employment and Research Assistant Positions
Q. Are there part-time employment positions available for international students?
A. Students should take into account the transition to a new legal system, increased class preparation requirements, and for many, a “new” language (English) environment. We recommend that students come financially prepared to devote full attention to their full-time studies. However, part-time student employment is available at Penn State University’s “Student Union” (activity center). See https://foodservices.psu.edu/hub-dining-student-employment-office. Applicants and admitted students should NOT contact Penn State Food Services until they arrive and are enrolled at Penn State Law. Students can apply for positions in August, and can usually start employment in September. Hours are flexible (6-18 hours/week) and wages are approximately $9-11/hour.
Q. Are there research assistant positions available?
A. Students should NOT plan on a research assistant position as these positions are very limited. Penn State Law professors may have limited research assistantships available, but such positions are limited by budget and also the academic scholarship that the applicant contributes to the professors’ ongoing research needs. Interested students should first become personally acquainted with the professor while in residence, and then make an appointment, several weeks after arrival, to explore the professor’s needs.
Q. What is the process for initial on-campus employment?
A. According to DISSA’s instructions for students’ employment https://global.psu.edu/taxonomy/term/169:
- Obtain an employment letter from the hiring department. (Visit the Social Security page of DISSA website for more details about Steps 1-4.)
- Request the DISSA Social Security letter in iStart. You must upload the employer letter.
- When the DISSA letter is prepared, you will be notified by email.
- Take all necessary documents to the Social Security Administration office in your area.
- You will get a receipt from the Social Security office indicating that you have applied for a Social Security Number (SSN).
- New employment: Review welcome email from HR Onboarding and follow instructions to complete the background check and section 1 of the form I-9. Continuing employment after extending I-20 or DS-2019: If you have been working and your I-20 or DS-2019 has been extended, you will not have an email about onboarding so schedule a session at the link below and select ‘other’ in the appointment detail field and add ‘reverification’ to the comment.
- Schedule an onboarding session via https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/yd21mytg/.
- Bring original identification documents to your onboarding session to complete section 2 of the I-9.
Q. Am I required to submit tax forms if I have a work-on campus job?
A. Yes. In the United States, we are required to submit tax forms for the previous year by April 15 each year. In other words, we submit information about our income and taxes paid in the year between January 31 and December 31.
Follow the instructions below to determine what tax forms you need to file and find out how to file them.
Graphic description: https://global.psu.edu/sites/default/files/2020TaxInfoPDF.pdf
‘Non-resident for tax purposes’ and ‘resident for tax purposes’ are tax terms, not immigration terms. Everyone in F and J status are non-residents for immigration purposes.
Q. I plan to look for a job after graduation. What resources are available?
A. The LLM Program is designed as a one-year graduate training residency program for non- U.S. resident lawyers to prepare for career opportunities in their home countries and elsewhere around the world. However, the International Student Interview Program (ISIP) is an annual consortium event sponsored by 33 law schools nationwide and hosted by NYU School of Law invites Penn State Law LLM students in their final semester to participate. Registration details and deadlines will be announced by Graduate and International Programs (GIP) in November or December of each fall semester. GIP will also host semi-annual CV, cover letter, and interview workshops.
Q. Where can I find some job vacancies?
A. We do have some job search resources on our website that might be helpful: http://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/intranet/cso/important-job-search-resources
You can also seek opportunities through job fairs and our alumni network.
VISA and Immigration
Q. I plan to travel outside the United States. What should I do to maintain my Visa status?
Q. How do I apply for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) position?
A. See: https://global.psu.edu/category/employment
DISSA will also host several OPT information sessions during the fall/spring semester and you will be notified via your Penn State email.
We strongly recommend you start your application at the earliest opportunity.
Q. I have a question regarding my Visa, and other U.S. Immigration-related issues not listed above.
A. DISSA is in charge of general international student advising and should be able to provide you with all the answers. DISSA is located at 410 Boucke Building, office hours 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed 12:00 p.m. -1:00 p.m. for lunch). You can call them at 814-865-6348 or email DISSA-Adviser@psu.edu.
DISSA also has the following walk-in (no appointment) hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday- 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Thursday and Friday- 8:30 am to 11:30 am
Life in State College
Q. What about life in State College, Pennsylvania?
A. State College is a vibrant university community located in central Pennsylvania. World-class academics, access to a wide range of activities, and diversity are hallmarks.
Q. What about local transportation?
A. CataBus is the exclusive local bus service in State College. For information about bus routes, schedules, or bus passes, see: http://www.catabus.com/
As a graduate student, you might be eligible to apply for a RIDEpass. See the eligibility requirements and registration instructions here: http://transportation.psu.edu/ridepass-graduate-students
For taxi services in State College, please see: http://universityparkairport.com/passenger-info/taxis-shuttles/
Uber service is also available by accessing your Uber "app."
Q. How do I obtain a driver’s license?
A. Please see: https://global.psu.edu/article/how-internationals-can-get-pennsylvania-drivers-license
Q. What about student organizations and clubs?
A. You have more than 1,000 to choose from! You can find a list of student organizations here: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/hub/studentorgs/orgdirectory/
Q. Can I work part-time while I'm in residence?
A. Yes. Certain jobs are open for all Penn State students on campus. However, you are permitted to work up to 20 hours each week. See information here: https://global.psu.edu/category/employment
Q. What if I encounter legal problems during my residency?
A. You can use student legal services. Make an appointment here: http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/legalservices
Q. What should I do if I need to see a doctor?
A. As a Penn State student, you can make use of our University Health Services, including medical care, pharmacy, physical therapy, and other services. See: http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/
Urgent Care: http://medexpress.com/local-centers/pennsylvania/state-college.aspx
Q. If I feel unsafe walking alone on campus at night, can I call someone to escort me?
A. Yes, you can. We do have a safe walk service here. Call 814-865-9255.
You will be asked to provide your name, telephone number, your present location, and your intended destination. You will be given the approximate time that your Auxiliary Officer will arrive.
Q. I need to report something to the police! The number to call is 911, right?
A. Yes! Call 911 for urgent matters. For non-emergency issues, you can also contact our University Police at 814-863-1111, or you can visit University Police at the Eisenhower Parking Deck. Another option is the State College Police Department, located at 243 South Allen Street. Call 814-234-7150. Police services are available 24/7.
Q. What about on-campus transportation?
A. The two-route Campus Shuttle service provides no-fare transportation across campus for faculty, staff, students, and visitors. https://transportation.psu.edu/campus-shuttle Using the Campus Shuttle and CATABUS services is simple and convenient. Download the TransLoc app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, or visit psu.transloc.com to view the live map.
User ID, iStart, Canvas, and LionPATH (terminology and log-in information)
Q. Does Penn State provide VPN (Virtual Private Network)?
A. Yes. Please refer to the instructions: https://pennstate.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_article_view&sysparm_article=KB0011882&sys_kb_id=60e56b641b14ac9013b599ba234bcbcb&spa=1.
What is a Penn State Access Account?
A Penn State Access Account is a user ID and password. Your user ID is the "public" part of your Penn State Access Account. This is the part you should share with others so that they know where to send you electronic mail. Your user ID (sometimes referred to as "username" or "userid") is usually your initials followed by a 1- to 3-digit number such as xyz101. The letters are lowercase.
Your password, on the other hand, should be kept private. Your password is the "key" that lets you open electronic doors for online services like LionPATH, electronic mail, and other Penn State services.
Why do you need a Penn State Access Account?
A Penn State Access Account enables Penn State faculty, staff, and students to use the full range of Internet services on or off campus, at computer labs or on personal computers. It also allows you to use student computing labs.
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR ACCESS PRIVILEGES AT THE UNIVERSITY
Current students may have access to:
- Office365 email and applications
- iStart (immigration management system) – DISSA (The Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising) processes immigration-based requests through iStart, which is housed on a secure server where documents can be safely uploaded.
- LionPATH (Penn State’s student information system) – LionPATH provides students with access to their academic, registration, and financial records.
- Canvas (Penn State’s course management system) - Canvas is Penn State’s online system for teaching and learning. Students and faculty utilize Canvas to view their course schedule, access their courses, and contact their instructors.
- Penn State Wireless networks (Wi-Fi)
- Computer labs (please note, departmental labs may require additional access from the department’s IT staff)
2. Application Status Checker
Use the username and password (NOT PENN STATE ACCESS ACCOUNT) you received from the admissions office in your introductory email when your application was received to check the status of your application. Application Status Checker
Application Received – Penn State Law is in receipt of your online application.
Application Incomplete - Your application is currently incomplete. Your application will not be reviewed by the admissions committee until it is complete.
Under Review - Your application has been sent to the admissions committee. Your Skype interview is ready to be scheduled (please be watching for the invitation email). Once it has been sent to the committee, it could potentially take 2 weeks for a decision to be made.
Admitted – An offer of admission has been emailed to you.
Deposit Received - The admissions office has received your acceptance.