International Student Center

Frequently Asked Questions

    • Employment options for F-1 visa students

      • On-Campus Employment

        As an F-1 visa student, you are allowed to work on the Seattle University campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and 40 hours per week during the summer (or annual vacation quarter). You will need to make sure that you complete a full-time course load each quarter, in addition to your employment. To find information about on-campus jobs, contact offices directly that you would like to work at, or check on the web via SU Online or the Redhawk Network ( The priority for many on-campus jobs goes to "work-study"" students. Work-study students are American students who are receiving a financial aid package from the government that requires them to work on campus. International students are not eligible for work-study. If you see a work-study job advertised for at least two weeks, you can call to ask if they would consider hiring someone who is not on work-study. Some offices may only be able to hire work-study students, while others may have a budget for hiring non-work-study students. Working on campus does not require getting any written permission from the International Student Center (ISC) or immigration, and you can start working as soon as you begin your studies at Seattle University. Remember, you cannot get paid until you apply/receive a social security number.

      • Optional Practical Training

        Optional practical training (OPT) allows F-1 students to gain paid working experience off-campus in their field of study. While most students choose to use their practical training after they complete their studies, you can actually start practical training while you are still in school. You must be in the United States and in status under an F-1 visa for one academic year before you can submit a start date. During the school year, you can work up to 20 hours per week while maintaining your full-time student status. During the summer (or annual vacation quarter) you can choose to apply for part-time or full-time practical training. You do not need to have a job offer before you apply, but you must be sure that the job you end up doing is closely related to your major (or perhaps minor), and is giving you experience appropriate for your level of education. Applications for optional practical training are done through the mail. The process for obtaining authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS - DHS) takes about 2-3 months, so you must plan ahead. The International Student Center will assist you in completing the application and must endorse your application before it is sent BCIS. The maximum time for doing practical training is 12 months full-time. If you want to do part-time practical training, it counts as half-time (example: 4 months part-time=2 months full-time). You can do part of your practical training before you graduate, and part of it after, although each separate period of practical training requires a $380 fee payable to immigration. The best way to find out more about Optional Practical Training is to attend one of the free workshops offered by the International Student Center. Generally these are held about once per quarter.

      • Curricular Practical Training

        Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is another type of training, available to students who must work as part of their degree requirements. In order to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you must be registered for a course at Seattle University that requires off-campus employment, such as an internship course, and you must get a letter from your professor or department that the credits received for your internship will count towards your degree requirements. Very few students are eligible to apply for this kind of practical training, because not many classes or programs of study specifically require students to work off-campus.

      • Paid Internships

        If you would like to do a paid internship related to your major, but not as part of a class requirement, you must apply for Optional Practical Training.

      • Unpaid Internships

        If you would like to do an unpaid internship, you do not need to get permission from DHS or the International Student Center. As long as you are not receiving compensation of any kind, and you are not replacing a paid employee with your internship, you are allowed to do an internship at any off-campus location.

      • Economic Hardship

        If you suffer from unforeseen financial difficulties, due to circumstances beyond your control, you may be able to apply for work authorization based on economic hardship. In order to apply, you must provide proof that your financial sponsor has unexpectedly suffered financial difficulties. This may be due to sudden fluctuations in your country's currency, a sponsor losing their job, death of financial sponsor, or similar circumstances. You will also have to show that you made a genuine attempt to obtain on-campus employment before seeking the economic hardship work permit, and that the on-campus jobs were either not available or were insufficient.

      • Questions?

        Questions regarding employment should be directed to your International Student Advisor in the International Student Center at 206.296.6260 or e-mail us at

    • Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN)

      How to reach the Social Security Administration (SSA)
      A toll-free number operates from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday at 1-800-772-1213. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. You can also visit their website at for more information.
      You must apply for your Social Security Number (SSN) in person. There are several local offices throughout the Seattle area, which are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (except Federal Holidays). Below are some of the offices close to Seattle University:


      Downtown Seattle 901 Lenora, Suite 100
      (Corner of 9th Ave & Lenora)
      Phone: (206) 553-8613
      Bus routes: 26, 28, 70
      North Seattle 13510 Aurora Ave N, Suite B
      (Corner of Aurora & NE 135th St)
      South Seattle 675 S Lane St, Suite 401
      (Corner of 7th Ave & Dearborn St)
      Phone: (206) 553-4100
      Bellevue 505 106th Ave NE, Suite 301 Park Plaza
      (Between NE 4th St & NE 6th St)

      Required Documents
      Effective since 2008, you will need to bring two letters to prove your employment status. One letter is from your supervisor (employer) and the other is from the International Student Center (ISC) verifying your immigration status. To apply for a SSN, you will need to provide documents that show your identity, age, citizenship, and status as a lawful alien. You will need to bring the following items with you:

      • Passport
      • SEVIS I-20 with current signature on page three
      • Letter from the ISC describing why you need a SSN (normally they will not issue you a number unless you are seeking employment and need a SSN for that purpose)
      • Letter from your supervisor (employer) on department letterhead stating your job title and signed by your supervisor
      • In addition, you will need to complete an Application Form (Form SS-5) that you must fill out at the SSA office or download from the web (not available at the ISC)
      Once your application is filed with the officer, s/he will give you a receipt. They will perform a background check, and your Social Security card will be mailed to the address you provide within four to six weeks. Normal processing takes about four weeks.

      Protecting your Social Security Number and Records
      Be careful with your SSN and card, and DO NOT disclose it to anyone unless necessary. You can give your number to employers, banks, and the driver's license office, but use your discretion about giving it to others. Remember, this number tracks ALL information about you!


    • Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application procedure


      Optional Practical Training Application procedure

      1. Attend a mandatory OPT workshop. This workshop must be completed before requesting an advising appointment. OPT workshops happen quarterly and those who are graduating will be given priority.
      2. Request a letter from your academic advisor indicating your major and date of degree completion. The letter must also include a few lines stating how participating in practical training would be beneficial for your education.
      3. Fill out items 1-16 on Form I-765, and sign (your signature should remain between the two lines as they will scan this signature for your card) and date it.
      4. Complete the OPT Request Form.
      5. Make 2 copies each of your passport information page, current F-1 visa, I-94 paper card or electronic number, and all previous U.S. Employment Authorization Documents (EAD card). If you're unsure what you need, we can make copies for you. It is also recommended you bring the originals for inspection in case additional copies are necessary.
      6. Prepare a check or money order to the Department of Homeland Security for $380.
      7. Have two U.S. passport photos (full frontal view, 2x2 inches, all white background, no more than 30 days old when application is filed).
      8. Call the International Student Center (ISC) at 206.296.6260 to set up an appointment for practical training and bring along items 2-7 listed above, as well as all I-20s you have received from Seattle University or other schools. Please allow at least an hour to complete the appointment. Note: Same day appointments are not available.

      The ISC will review your application and submit a recommendation for practical training by updating your record in SEVIS. Please note deadlines listed in this packet. Allow one hour for the appointment and please make sure you have the following items with you when you come for your OPT appointment:

      • Letter from your academic advisor
      • All I-20s, including previous schools
      • Passport, I-94 paper card/electronic number
      • Check or money order for $380
      • Two U.S. passport photos


    • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Application procedure


      Curricular Practical Training Application procedure

      To apply for Curricular Practical Training (paid internship), you must have:

      1. Job offer letter from a specific employer indicating: Job title Dates of employment Number of hours of work per week Location of employment Description of responsibilities

      2. Letter from academic advisor/faculty who is knowledgeable of the internship. Letter should include: Graduation date for program Indication that internship is required of all students to complete the program and is an integral part of the curriculum. It must be listed in the school's course catalog, Bulletin of Information. Please note reference. Number of credits and the name of the faculty member teaching/supervising the internship. If no credit is assigned then must include description of how faculty/supervisor track the progress of internship. For example, how do students report to the faculty/supervisor on the nature of the internship, will there be a written or oral report to be prepared at the end of the internship, or any other methods used to monitor student's progress in meeting the curriculum objective(s). Objective(s) for internship Employer, location of employment and position title Dates of employment and number of hours of work per week Detail how the particular tasks the student undertakes in his/her employment compliments his/her course work

      Once you have the above two letters, bring them to the International Student Center (ISC)

      The ISC will review your records and documentation for curricular practical training. If you meet all requirements according to INS regulations for curricular practical training, we will endorse the necessary work permit for you to start your internship.

      PLEASE NOTE: Curricular practical training will require concurrent full-time coursework to maintain lawful status as a student.


    • Immigration Reminders Winter 2015


      Immigration Reminders Winter 2015

      • KNOW YOUR END DATE on YOUR FORM I-20. If you don't know where to find it, please ask!! It is your responsibility to make sure your Form I-20 is valid as long as you are still a student engaged in academic studies (i.e. you are a student pursuing a degree). If you need to extend your I-20, please make sure you have completed this process BEFORE your current Form I-20 expires.

      • ARE YOU BELOW FULL-TIME 15WQ for LAST TERM OF DEGREE COMPLETION? If you are completing your degree at the end of the current term (15WQ: July, August or September, 2014), please remember to report your last term so that we can update the SEVIS immigration database. If you are registered below full-time (i.e. less than 12 credits for UG and 9 for GR), we need to authorize you below full-time. You will need to submit a written hardcopy statement which includes: 1) The date the request is written 2) Your full name and SU ID 3) Your degree and completion date/quarter/semester 4) Course name(s) and number of credits 5) Your original signature Please remember this statement should be in the form of a business letter or memo, not a list. There is no form to complete. We must receive this statement in order to authorize you for RCL (Reduced Credit Load). If you do not turn in this statement, you risk being terminated and forfeit your OPT in the SEVIS government database. This statement must be turned in by Friday, Jan 16, 2015!

        PLEASE NOTE: summer is NOT a vacation term if you are NOT continuing in the fall. If summer is your last term and you are below full-time (12 UG; 9 GR) then you MUST submit an RCL or your will be out of status.

      • Even if you are FULL-TIME FOR YOUR LAST TERM, you must make sure that you inform the International Student Center (ISC) that it is your last term of degree completion. This is important for your immigration record in SEVIS. If we do not accurately record you in your last term, you could risk further complications in SEVIS as the database is date driven and we cannot approve dates in the past. This can also delay your post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) application.

      • CHECK YOUR FORM I-20. WHEN WAS IT LAST SIGNED? Remember you should have your travel signature on page 3 updated every 6 to 8 months. Because of immigration requirements, we must verify your information BEOFRE we sign your document. Therefore, we cannot do same day requests. Please allow at least 3 to 5 business days before you travel to allow enough time to have your record updated.
        PLEASE NOTE: If you are requesting a signature of your Form I-20 now, please make sure you have declared your last term or are registered for the fall term or your signature request will be denied. You must also make sure your Mailing address is CURRENT or it will delay your request.
        Remember the signature on page 3 is NOT just a signature - information must be thoroughly checked before we can legally sign it!

      • Please remember that if you are graduating at the end of this term, applications for post-completion OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT) work authorization should be received by the Nebraska Service Center of Homeland Security BEFORE the last day of your last class. If you are looking to start your OPT as soon as you graduate, please remember it takes 2 to 3 months for adjudication so you should submit your application at least 2 months before you want to start. Attendance at a workshop is required so make sure you check your email for the dates of the monthly OPT workshop.