Achieving academic success is the first priority of International Students. After meeting that priority, it is highly recommended that students engage in out-of-class learning opportunities to further enrich their experiences. These opportunities may be located on-campus or off-campus. These opportunities may also come with or without compensation.  As International Students holding F-1 student status, some opportunities may require prior authorization from ISS office.

This page covers basic information about policies, procedures, and on-campus resources available to engage in the following practical experiences: Volunteer, On-campus jobs, Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training. We will also cover basic information about Social Security Numbers.

Overall Tips to consider:

Put academics as first priority! Some positions may even have a GPA requirement of 2.5 or higher. Earning some income may be attractive but remember to assess the learning opportunity of the position first!

It is the students’ responsibility to understand and act within F-1 student regulations. Do not engage in unauthorized work.

Plan ahead! Consider position hunting time, application deadlines, time line for work authorization approval and more!

Use on-campus services, faculty advisors and classmates as resources.

Don’t get disappointed if turned down. Keep applying! The entire process will help you gain important skills in job hunting, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing and networking.

OPT Employment and Address Change Reporting

Please report your new employment, end of employment and new address through this online form!

On-Campus Employment

Basic On-Campus Employment Rules:
Students can work on-campus no more than 20 hours per week during regular enrollment periods, and 40 hours per week during summer, J-term and official breaks. Students who are enrolled during the summer and J-term are restricted to working no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. Student Employees are allowed to work more than one job at a time, as long as the weekly hour limits are not abused.

No prior authorization from ISS is necessary for students to begin working on-campus. On-campus employment must end on the last date of students’ studies at PLU. Students may continue to work on-campus under student status during break before the following semester begins using Post-Completion Optional Practical Training Employment Authorization Document as long as the position is in their field of study and appropriate for their degree level. For additional questions regarding on-campus employment, consult with Student Employment as well as ISS.

On-Campus Employment Resources:
Visit Student Employment’s website to research on-campus job listings. Many on-campus jobs for Fall semester are posted in the beginning of Spring semester and filled by the end of the Spring semester. It is also recommended to inquire directly to academic department, student affairs offices or other offices that you wish to work for possible job openings.

Social Security Number (SSN)

Applying for a SSN:
For International Students, SSN is only issued to those who have a paid job offer on-campus or off-campus.

Already found an employer?  Fill out the SSN Request Letter form. ISS will issue a support letter.

With an on-campus employer, get an Employment Offer Letter from Student Employment Office. With an off-campus employer, ask the employer to provide an offer letter.

Bring two letters, passport, and I-20 to Social Security Administration Office.  More detailed instruction is available on the SSN Request Letter form.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Basic CPT Rules:
International Students can participate in training that is directly related to their majors using CPT authorization. CPT authorization must be approved by ISS office. This opportunity is available for current students only. Most students use CPT to engage in positions that are paid and located off-campus. Students must enroll for an academic/ internship credit while engaged in this opportunity. To learn more about eligibility, requirement and authorization procedure, read CPT Information Sheet. Please also review CPT Employer Letter Template and CPT Certification Form.

CPT Resources:
Contact Academic Department OR Academic Internship/Cooperative Education Office for training opportunities and internship class registration.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Basic OPT Rules:
International Students can participate in training that is directly related to their majors using OPT authorization. OPT authorization must be filed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services based on a recommendation from ISS. Approval takes approximately 3 months. Most students use OPT after graduation. OPT authorization is normally for full-time time and 12 months long. To learn more about eligibility, requirements and the application process read the OPT Information Sheet and attend OPT Workshops scheduled normally at 4th week of each semester.

OPT Resources:
Improve your job search skills by using resources provided by Office of Career Development. Also, do not forget to use your academic department, faculty and classmates as your resource!


Basic Volunteer Rule:
International Students may accept volunteer positions on-campus or off-campus which meet the following conditions:

  • Positions that provide no form of compensation.
  • Positions that are normally held by volunteers.

Accepting volunteer opportunities on-campus or off-campus require no prior authorization from ISS. However, if there are any doubts, please consult with ISS before accepting opportunities.

Volunteer Resources:
Volunteer Center can introduce students to a number of volunteer opportunities! Visit VC’s website to view position listings!