Services & Information

Below you will find information on additional services which will help support you in your transition to Kutztown University and throughout your stay in Pennsylvania. 

  • Social Security Number (SSN)

    If you apply for a driver's license or get a job, you will have to apply for a social security number. It is used for employer payroll, Internal Revenue Service (federal taxes), driver's licenses and credit history.

    If you are applying for a driver's license, but do not have a social security number and have never had a job on campus, you will have to apply for and officially be denied a social security number. If you get a job on campus at a later time, you will have to re-apply for a social security number.

    Eligibility Requirements:

    • Present in the U.S. for at least 14 days
    • Registered in SEVIS

    Instructions for Social Security Number

    Instructions for Social Security Number Rejection

    Follow these instructions to receive a Social Security Rejection Letter:

    Social Security Application Documents:

    • Letter from the Designated School Official
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • Form I-20
    • Form I-94
    • Social Security application (get this online at


    • Gather all documents listed above.
    • Go to the Social Security Office or mail the documents to the SSN Office. 
    • Keep your rejection letter in a safe place so you have it for your Driver’s Permit application.

    Social Security Number Application Process (for Employment)

    You will need a social security number to receive pay for your employment. You will use the same social security number for your entire stay in the U.S. You only need to apply for a social security number one time, when you receive your first job offer. If you get a new or different job, you will use the same social security number. Keep your social security card safe once you receive it.

    There is no fee for the social security application. You must be present in the U.S. for 10 days before applying for a social security number. Social Security offices are located in Reading and Allentown. Allow plenty of time when you plan your trip to the Social Security office, as there may be a long wait time.

    You will need the following items to apply for a social security number:

    • An original letter or statement from the F1 student’s employer must be typed or written on employer’s (school or company) letterhead and show all the following:
      • name of the F-1 student employee;
      • description of the employment;
      • anticipated or actual employment start date no more than 30 days in the future at the time of application for an SSN;
      • number of hours the student is expected to work;
      • employer identity number (EIN);
      • employer contact information, including the telephone number and the name of the F1 student’s immediate supervisor;
      • verification of the employment status (i.e. student has been hired);
      • original signature with signatory’s title and date.
    • A letter from the Designated School Official
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • Form I-20
    • Form I-94 (
    • Social Security application (get this online at


    • Gather all documents listed above. Documents must be originals.
    • Go to the Social Security Office.
      • Reading and Allentown are closest, but you can go to any Social Security Office.
      • Allow a lot of time because there is often a long wait.
    • Keep your Social Security card in a safe place.

    Allentown Location
    41 N. 4th Street Allentown, PA 18102

    Reading Location
    201 Penn Street, Suite 200 Reading, PA 19601

  • Driver's License

    If you want to drive a motor vehicle while studying in the U.S., you will either need to have an international driver's license, which is obtained in your home country, or a Pennsylvania State Driver's license. The international driver's license is usually only valid for one year.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) oversees the issuing and maintenance of driver's licenses in Pennsylvania. You will need to take a written exam for the learner's permit and then a road skills test in a car with a PennDOT employee to get a driver's license. You must be at least 16 years old and residing/studying in the U.S. and Pennsylvania State for at least one year to apply for a learner's permit.

    Instructions for Driver’s License

    Eligibility requirements:

    • One-year presence in the U.S. remaining
    • 16 years of age or older
    • Physical Examination within 6 months of application (Doctor or provider must complete section on application - PennDOT Form 180)

    To obtain a driver's license, you will need the following:

    • PennDOT Form 180
    • A physical exam
    • Status verification letter from International Student Services
    • Passport
    • I-94
    • Visa
    • Social Security number (ITIN) or Social Security rejection letter
    • I-20
    • 2 proofs of Pennsylvania residency Driver’s License Application Process:

    Gather all documents listed above.

    • First, you will have to get a learner’s permit to practice driving in the U.S.
      • You must apply in person for the Learner’s Permit.
      • You will be required to take a written test to get it.
      • Study the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual before you take the Permit test.
      • There is no appointment required to take the Learner’s Permit test.
    • Next, you will take a Road Skills test to get the license.
      • You must make an appointment for this test.
      • You may not drive yourself to the Driver’s License Center to take this test unless you have a licensed driver in the car with you.
      • You must provide a vehicle for this test; it is okay to take the test in someone else’s vehicle.
      • You must show valid registration and insurance as well as the accompanying driver’s unexpired license.


    Lehigh Valley Driver Center
    1710 Hoover Avenue
    Allentown, PA 18109

    Reading PennDOT Photo & Exam Center
    530 East Lancaster Avenue Shillington, PA 19607

    More information is online at

  • Taxes

    If you earn income in the U.S., taxes will be automatically withdrawn from your paycheck to meet tax obligations. In general, you will be exempt from paying Medicare or Social Security taxes. You are not exempt from paying federal, state, or local income taxes. In addition to paying taxes directly from your payroll, you must complete and submit several tax forms to the government.

    You are required to file Form 8843 with the U.S. Federal Government by June 15 every year for the prior tax year, even if you did not earn income. 

    If you earned income in the U.S. in the previous tax year, you might be required to file tax forms based on the amount of income you earned. We recommend that you always file tax forms because you might be entitled to a refund of the taxes you paid. The income tax forms are due on April 15.

    The International Student Services purchases licenses for a tax preparation software for every international student to complete their federal tax forms. You must complete their state and local tax forms on your own.

  • Health Insurance

    All international students at Kutztown University are required to carry adequate health insurance during all periods of time the student is authorized to be in the U.S. by an immigration document issued by the University.

    Healthcare is expensive in the U.S., and international students are responsible for any costs associated with their physical or mental health. Note that most health insurance plans in the U.S. do not cover all medical benefits like prescriptions, dental, and vision.

    Health insurance policies must be purchased through a company that sells insurance in the U.S.. The insurance requirements set forth by the Department of State are as follows:

    • Medical Benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
    • Repatriation of Remains in the amount of $25,000
    • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
    • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

    Important Insurance Terms:

    • Deductible: The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay.
    • Copay: A copayment or copay is a fixed amount for a covered service, paid by a patient to the provider of service before receiving the service.
    • In-Network vs Out-of-Network: A provider network is a list of the doctors, health care providers, and hospitals that an insurance plan contracts with to provide medical care to its members. These providers are called “network providers” or “in-network providers.” A provider that isn't contracted with the plan is called an “out-of-network provider.”

    International Student and Scholar Plans

    Insurance recommendations for international students and scholars are included below.

    Athletic Coverage

    International student athletes and students participating in intramural, elite, or club sports must have an insurance policy that covers athletics. Athletic coverage is not included in all insurance plans and not all sports are covered under all plans, so be sure to choose a plan with the appropriate level of coverage for your particular sport.  NCAA athletes should check with the athletics department to be sure they have sufficient coverage.

  • Family Visitors to the U.S. (B-1/B-2 Visa)

    Family members who are not the children or spouse of the F-1 /J-1 must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa to visit the U.S. Family members from certain countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a B-1/B-2 visa through the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program.

    Documents Needed to Apply for B-1/B-2 Visa

    The following documents are required to apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa:

    Additional Recommended Documents

    To help strengthen your B-1/B-2 visa application, we recommend that you provide additional documents to clarify that the visit is temporary and/or is for a specific occasion (e.g., graduation ceremony), and that the visitor will be supported financially while visiting the U.S. Most importantly, the additional documents should show proof of ties to the home country to prove that the visitor does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. Proof of ties to the home country may include economic, social, family, or other commitments showing that the visitor intends to return home after a temporary stay in the U.S. Examples include:

    • Proof of employment – a letter from the employer indicating that this individual is currently employed and taking time off, but is due back at their job on a specific date.
    • Proof of property ownership – house, apartment, or a business.
    • Proof of contact with other family members in the home country.
    • Proof of finances – bank statement, stocks, property.
    • A formal letter of invitation (written by you as the F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor) indicating the specific reason for the visit (e.g., graduation, wedding, illness, birth of a child). The letter should include information about the purpose of travel and planned itinerary or schedule. It may also include information about your U.S. immigration status as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor. If you are inviting family members to attend your graduation ceremony, indicate this on the letter. 

    For more information about B-1/B-2 visa denials, refer to the U.S. Department of State Visitor Visas.

    For more information about B-1/B-2 visas, refer to the U.S. Department of State Visitor Visas.


Below you will find additional information that may be helpful to you in determining different visa types and their benefits, how to change status, and other important information. 

  • Differences between the F-1 and J-1 Student Visas

    All full time, degree seeking international students are eligible for an F-1 visa. Most Kutztown University international students hold F-1 visa status, however, some students may be eligible for both a J-1 visa and F-1 visa. In this case you may have to choose which one is best for you.

    To be eligible for a J-1 visa at least half of your total financial support must be from a source other than personal or family funds. This financial support may be a tuition or housing waiver, scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship from an external funding source such as your home university, home government, a corporate sponsor, or the Kutztown University. Students with only personal or family funding are NOT eligible for a J-1 visa.

    Differences Between F-1 and J-1 Student Visas

     Category F-1 Visa J-1 Visa

    Source of Funding                                                                    

    Supported by personal/family funds, outside funds, or a combination of both

    More than 50% of funding is from an outside source such as a scholarship, fellowship, or government sponsorship

    Proof of Funding                                                            

    Student must show KU and the U.S. consulate proof of sufficient funding for the first year of study

    Student must show KU and the U.S. consulate proof of sufficient funding for the entire duration of the academic program

    Off Campus Employment                                                                               

    Two authorization options:

    Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for working off campus during studies. This work authorization is approved one semester at a time.

    Optional Practical Training (OPT) for working off campus, usually after the completion of studies. This is a 12 month work authorization. Student in STEM fields may be authorized for an additional 17 months.

    One authorization option:

    Academic Training (AT) for working off campus during studies or after the completion of studies. This work authorization is for up to 18 months or the length of study in the program, whichever is shorter. PhD students may be authorized for an additional 18 months.

    The length of approved AT is equal to the length of time spent studying in the U.S. For complete details please visit the employment section of our website.


    Dependents in F-2 status may study part time and are not eligible for employment.

    Dependents in J-2 status may study full time and may apply for employment authorization.

    Long Term Implications of a J-1 Visa

    J-1 students (and J-2 dependents) are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement. It requires J-1 students and their J-2 dependents to return home for at least two years after completing the exchange visitor program. This requirement is part of U.S. law, in the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). If you cannot return home for two years, you must apply for a waiver. The Department of Homeland Security must approve your waiver before you can change status in the United States or receive a visa in certain categories. 

    12 Month Bar After Previous J-1 Participation

    J-1 students who have studied in the U.S. for more than 6 months may not return as a J-1 Research Scholar (another J-1 visa category, often used for post-doctoral research) until at least 12 months have passed. This 12-Month Bar is separate from the two-year home country physical presence requirement listed above. J-2 dependents are also subject to this bar.

  • Change of Status to F-1 Visa

    If you are an active visa holder in the United States, it may be possible for you to request a change of status through the U.S. government to receive F or J visa designation without the need to travel outside the country and apply for a new visa. You may find information on this page about the change of status process as well as things to consider before applying.

    An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the US. Once the educational objectives have been achieved, the F-1 student is expected to return to his or her residence abroad.

    A student acquires F-1 status using Form I-20, issued by the U.S. school which the student is attending/planning to attend. Status is acquired in one of two ways:

    1. By entering the United States with the I-20 and an F-1 visa obtained at a U.S. consulate abroad (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement)
    2. By applying to USCIS for change of nonimmigrant status (if the student is already in the United States and cannot travel). Please note that if you choose this option, you will not receive an F-1 travel visa, only F-1 status. This means that if you later travel outside the U.S. while in F-1 status, you will have to apply for F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate in order to be able to return to the U.S.

    A person of any non-immigrant status except C, D, K, or M (and in some cases J), and except those who entered the United States under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, can apply for a change to F-1 status if they have maintained lawful non-immigrant status up to the time of application. Those with J status who are subject to 212(e) two-year home country physical requirement may not change status in the U.S. unless a waiver has been granted. Non-immigrants in A, G, or NATO status must first complete Form I-566, and have it properly endorsed by the foreign mission to the U.S. and the Department of State.

    Documentation Needed to Apply for Change of Status to F-1

    • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
    • A cover letter (one page) requesting the change of status from your current status to F-1. This letter should include a brief explanation as why you wish to change to F-1 status. You should also provide a checklist of the documentation you are including in your application.
    • USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, including application fee.
    • Evidence of financial support (i.e., bank statement, assistantship letter, etc.). If you have been offered an assistantship from a department and therefore will need to start your on-campus job under F-1 employment authorization, you may want to request USCIS to expedite your change of status application. There is no guarantee that your application will be expedited, but there is no harm in asking. Note: After your change of status to F-1 is approved, the earliest date you may start working on campus is 30 days before the first day of classes of your first term as F-1 student.
    • Copy of the admission letter from Kutztown University.
    • Copy of your entire F-1 Form I-20 (sign in “Student Attestation” section on page 1 of the form before making a copy). Do NOT send your original I-20. USCIS does not require the original and will not return it.
    • Copy of the receipt indicating payment of the SEVIS fee. Note: The SEVIS fee is separate from the application fee; both fees must be paid if you are applying for the change of status within the U.S.
    • Copies of all of the immigration documents (e.g. DS-2019, F-2 I-20, I-797, paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94, valid passport, visa stamp, EAD card, etc.) showing that you are currently in lawful non-immigrant status.
    • Copy of the waiver of the 212(e) Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement (if you were previously in J status and subject to the requirement), if applicable.

    We recommend that you make a copy of this application for your own record.

    Mailing Address and Where to File

    It may take USCIS several months to adjudicate an I-539 request, and therefore you should use a return address that will be valid for many months. We do not recommend trying to change your I-539 mailing address once your application has been submitted to USCIS.

    If you know that you will be moving soon, we recommend using a friend or relative’s address in the U.S. If you select this strategy, make sure to include the name of your friend or relative on the line of the I-539 form that says “In care of.” Be sure to verify that their name is on their mail box. The address that you use on your I-539 will dictate to which USCIS Service Center you should mail your application.

    The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address. We recommend that you use a trackable mailing method so that you have delivery confirmation of your application. If you send your application with a method that requires a signature upon delivery, use the express mail and courier deliveries address below.

    If your change of status is pending with USCIS and you later decide to leave the U.S., your change of status is considered to have been abandoned.

    Important Things to Remember

    If you are currently in F-3 Status:

    Source: 8 CFR (Code of Federal Register) § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)

    • Individuals in F-2 status are eligible for part time study. However, once your change of status to F-1 is approved, you are required to be enrolled full time. If your change of status has not been approved by the deadline for adding/dropping classes, your I-20 start date will be deferred until the start of the next semester and you must stay enrolled part time until the end of the current semester in order to maintain your F-2 status.

    If you are currently in B1/B2 status:

    Source: 8 CFR § 214.2(b)(7) and §248.1(c)

    • Individuals in B1/B2 status are prohibited from “enrolling in a course of study” until after USCIS approves their change of status application.

    If you are currently in any other status (e.g., H, J, L, E, etc.):

    • If your current status allows full-time studies in the U.S., you may start classes before your change of status application is approved. However, you are not allowed employment under F-1 status until after your application is approved. For example, if you have an assistantship, you won’t be able to start it until after you receive your F-1 status.

    Traveling and Reentering the U.S.

    The alternative method of changing to F-1 status is through travel and re-entry, which may be preferred over the in-country change of status in certain situations. In this case, you would depart the U.S. and then apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, preferably the local consulate in your home country. If the F-1 visa application is approved and the F-1 visa is issued, then you can re-enter the U.S. using your F-1 Form I-20 and F-1 visa. At the Port of Entry, your electronic Form I-94 will be updated to show your status as F-1 and the Admit Until Date as D/S, which confirms F-1 status. Note: Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement of a having an F-1 visa to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. But travel and re-entry are still required for Canadian citizens to obtain F-1 status.

    If you would like to discuss the risks and benefits of your strategy for change of status, or have questions about your options, schedule an appointment with the Office of International Education and Global Engagement. 

  • SEVP Portal

    The SEVP Student Portal is a tool that F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) or science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) OPT must report changes to their home address, telephone number, and employer information.

    If you are on post-completion or STEM OPT, you are eligible to use the portal. The portal is accessible from both your mobile device and computer. As a student with approved OPT, it is your responsibility to update your employment information within 10 days of any change to your employment or contact information. The SEVP portal allows you to take responsibility for reporting employment or home address changes. Students who are on active post-completion OPT and STEM OPT period will receive an email with instructions on creating a portal account. This email will come from This is a free account; no money is charged by the government to open this account.

    The SEVP Portal will send the portal account creation email to the student if:

    1. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) shows that the OPT is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) AND
    2. The OPT is for post-completion or STEM OPT AND
    3. The email is sent on or after the OPT start date as listed on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) otherwise known as OPT card.

    The SEVP Portal will allow students on post-completion OPT to:

    • View details about your post-completion OPT
    • Report changes to your address, telephone and employer information
    • View and update data on all your employers in one place

    The SEVP Portal will allow students on STEM OPT to:

    • View details about your STEM OPT
    • Correct any errors in the employer’s name. The employer name must match the employer that completed the I-983 form
    • Update employer address: this address should reflect the physical location in which the STEM OPT student is employed
    • Job title
    • Update the supervisor information
    • Update full or part-time change: Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM OPT training may be considered a material change to STEM OPT. The student will be required to update the I-983 form.
    • Update employment end date. The student must complete a final evaluation report and submit OISS
    • Update relationship to the field of study: any changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives is considered a material change to STEM OPT. The student will be required to update the I-983 form.

    SEVP has created an SEVP Portal Help ( section on Study in the States with: