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 work.
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 are available.
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
jobs related to their field of study after completing at least one year
of studies in the U.S.
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 advisor and admissions counselor 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
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
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
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 form online to let facilities
know there is something in your room that needs to be repaired.
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
Washington State Department of Licensing website.
I want to arrive more than 30 days before my start date. Is
No. Immigration regulations prohibit students arriving in the U.S.
more than 30 days before the program start date indicated on their
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 advisor
and admissions counselor 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 visit. Always check the
entry requirements of the country you are entering before you
What about traveling to another state or city within the
Please check in with the International student advisor and
admissions counselor 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
My family or friends want to come visit me from my home
country. What do I need from the Office of International Programs
and Development to make that happen?
You will need to get an official letter of invitation which will
provide your home country the information they will need to allow
them to come visit you. Please fill out the
letter of invitation form which will alert our office that you
need a letter of invitation.
How can I pay tuition?
Accepted methods of tuition payments are as follows:
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.
Can I use my own health insurance or must I use the
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 to the International student advisor and admissions
Important: If proof of coverage is not received
within the first four weeks of classes each semester, it will be
assumed that you wish to be covered by the University’s insurance.
I don’t think I will be able to complete my degree before my I-20 end
date. What do I do?
Please schedule an appointment with the International student advisor
and admissions counselor as soon as possible about the possibility of a
program extension. You can find more out about the
program extension process.
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 U.S. 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 advisor and admissions
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 advisor
and admissions counselor.
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 my home country 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
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.