FAQ - Frequently asked questions
Am I allowed to work while I am in the United States?
Students may work in positions on-campus only, unless they are authorized
for OPT or CPT. Students must also continue to maintain full-time student
status, so it is suggested that students not work more than 20 hours per
week (except during summer vacation). Students interested in employment must
also first obtain a Social Security number in order to get paid for their
How do I get a Social Security number?
Students who would like a social security number must fill out an
SS-5 Form and bring the completed form, along with a written offer of
employment, current I-20, visa, and passport to the nearest Social Security
Administration (SSA) office. Address and directions to the Olympia SSA
office can be found
What is OPT? CPT?
Optional practical training (OPT) is an option for international students
to gain practical on-the-job experience by being employed in job related to
their field of study after completing at least one year of studies in the
Curricular practical training (CPT) is for students whose curriculum (or
program of study) requires them to be employed or partake in an internship
in which they would receive payment.
Can I work off-campus as an intern?
Yes, but only if you are authorized for CPT. Please check with the International Student Services
Coordinator before engaging in any sort of internship or employment.
What is the difference between OPT and CPT?
- CPT is generally reserved for students who are required by their
program to engage in an internship or work-study.
- OPT is available to all students who have completed at least one
full academic year and are still in good student status.
How soon can I apply for OPT?
Students can apply as early as 90 days before the date of their requested
OPT start date. Most students choose to take OPT after they have completed
their studies, so a good rule of thumb is 90 days before graduation.
How long does OPT last?
Once a student has been authorized for OPT, they are allowed a maximum of
12 months on OPT with no more than 90 days total unemployment. Students in a
science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field may choose to extend
their OPT period by an additional 17 months as STEM OPT
Who is eligible for STEM OPT?
Only students in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field
of study are eligible for the STEM OPT extension.
Who do I contact if I have questions about on-campus housing?
Please contact the office of Housing and Residence Life at 360-412-6163.
Something in my room is broken. What do I do?
If you find something in your room is broken or malfunctioning, contact
housing as soon as possible. You can also fill out a facilities work order
to let facilities know there is something in your room that needs to be
I feel ill…should I go to the hospital?
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may want to check in at
the on-campus student health center or one of many local clinics before you
go to the hospital. It is not recommended that students
experiencing cold, flu, or allergy symptoms check in to the hospital.
How do I obtain a driver’s license?
Students can apply for a driver’s license after they have arrived in the
US and have found a place to live. More information can be found on the
Washington State Department of Licensing website.
I want to arrive more than 30 days before my start date. Is that
No. Immigration regulations prohibit students arriving in the U. S. more
than 30 days before the program start date indicated on their I-20.
What forms of public transportation are available?
Intercity Transit provides an excellent public bus system with transfers
available to Pierce Transit and King County Metro for travel to Tacoma and
Seattle respectively. You can find schedules and more on
Intercity Transit’s website.
I want to travel to Canada or another country during a semester
break. What do I need to do?
Please stop by and check in with the International Student Services
Coordinator before you leave the country. In addition to endorsing the third
page of your I-20, it is helpful that we are informed of your travel plans.
Also, some countries may require you to obtain a tourist visa before you
Always check the entry requirements of the country you are entering
before you travel.
What about travelling to another state or city within the U. S.?
Please check in with the International Student Services Coordinator
before you travel and ensure you have all kinds of supporting documents with
you at all times to verify you are legally in the country if an issue
arises. These documents include:
- Copy of current transcript
- Letter of student verification from ISS or your academic advisor
Tuition and charges
How can I pay tuition?
Accepted methods of tuition payments are as follows:
- Money order
- Personal check
- Cashier’s check
- Credit card (2.5% convenience fee)
- Online payment via Self-Service (Visa or American Express credit
When is tuition due?
Tuition and all fees are due before the first day of class. If you are
having trouble paying your account or need more time before you can pay,
please notify the office of student accounts immediately.
Why do I need health insurance?
It is University policy that all students are covered by some form of
health insurance. If a student does not have appropriate health insurance
coverage, the University will provide health insurance for a fee. More
information on the University’s international student health insurance can
Can I use my own health insurance or must I use the school’s?
If you have your own full health insurance coverage and do not want Saint
Martin’s University to cover you, please bring proof of coverage along with
health insurance waiver to the
International Student Services Coordinator. Important: If a waiver is
not received within the first 4 weeks of classes each semester, it will be
assumed that you wish to be covered by the University’s insurance. Please
apply for a fee waive as soon as possible.
and other issues
I don’t think I will be able to complete by degree before my I-20 end
date. What do I do?
Please schedule an appointment with the International Student Services
Coordinator as soon as possible about the possibility of a program
extension. You can find more out about the program extension process [here].
My visa is about to expire, but I still have time left on my program.
What do I do?
As long as your I-20 has not expired and you remain a full-time student
making significant progress in your studies, you are still legally allowed
to remain in the US even if your visa has expired. If you are planning to
leave the country and return in the near future, you will need to renew your
visa before you can re-enter the country. For more information about this
process, please schedule an appointment with the International Student
How can I renew my visa?
Students can renew their visas by returning to their home country and
scheduling a new visa interview with their nearest US embassy or consulate.
If you are planning to renew your visa in the near future, it is recommended
that you fill out a
visa renewal request form
to request a letter of support from the International Student Services
Can I go to Canada to renew my visa?
While in the past, students have sometimes been able to renew their visas
in Canada, it is strongly not recommended.
Can I get my vaccinations/immunization tests in the US instead of
before I travel?
Only some procedures can be done once you arrive. It is strongly
recommended that students receive all immunization procedures in their
home country before travelling.
I completed my immunization procedures in my home country, but I
forgot to bring my documents with me. Do I need to get tested/shots again?
Yes. If you have forgotten your proof of immunization and have no way of
retrieving it (faxed/mailed from family at home, etc.), then you will have
to be tested or receive vaccination shots again.