Parents & Families

International families

International families often have a unique set of questions and concerns when sending their student to a new country to study. Below are a few topics that family of international students tend to have questions about. By no means is this list exhaustive, but we hope that some of your initial questions might be answered.  Please feel free to e-mail Parent and Family Programs at with further questions or concerns.

International Student Services (ISS) consists of a professionally trained advising staff that is available to help F-1 and J-1 students understand the benefits and restrictions of F-1 and J-1 visa status.  In addition to a variety of other resources they are available to help students and family navigate federal regulations and university policies.

Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) is a nonprofit organization founded at the UW in 1948 to inspire global citizens through exposure to diverse cultures and perspectives. FIUTS fosters community and cross-cultural dialogue by connecting UW international students and scholars with the UW and Greater Seattle communities. FIUTS coordinates International Student Orientation, a variety of events and programs throughout the year, short-term homestays, student leadership development, and K-12 education outreach.

International alumni networks exist to help international alumni, families, and friends stay connected with the University of Washington no matter what corner of the world you find yourself in.  With over 20,000 international UW alumni all around the world, Huskies never find themselves alone.  Your student can take advantage of the vast network of UW alumni when he or she is home for break or when they begin exploring their career.


Campus Life

Money and Finances






What can my student expect in the classroom?

International students are sometimes surprised by students’ behavior in class. A U.S education may be more interactive and hands-on than what your student may have experienced in another country.  Students are expected to speak up in class and contribute to discussion.  Many professors will evaluate students based on classroom participation. It is not disrespectful to question or engage the professor; it is considered a sign of interest and original thought. American university students are also encouraged to visit faculty office hours to introduce themselves. Visiting faculty during office hours can also be helpful if your student has a question or fears they are falling behind in class.

You student should also be mindful of academic integrity. Cheating, plagiarism, and fraud are taken very seriously by the University of Washington. If your student has questions about what constitutes academic misconduct, encourage him or her to speak with professors or teaching assistants.

Which orientation should my student attend?

Advising & Orientation (A&O) is a mandatory program for all new freshman and undergraduate transfer students. It will introduce your student to undergraduate degree requirements, academic advising, and the registration process. A&O sessions are coordinated by First Year Programs. Your student should complete your ISS online information session at least two business days prior to your A&O session so that you will be able to register for classes at A&O.

International Student Orientation is designed for all new international students. Activities include a Welcome Reception, social events, and information sessions about housing, transportation, American culture, Seattle, UW, immigration, healthcare, and much more. Orientations are offered at the start of each new quarter. All new UW international students are charged a nonrefundable fee to cover the costs of this orientation. The fee will be assessed regardless of whether or not you participate in the International Student Orientation. Even transfer students, who have lived and studied in the U.S. should attend to learn more about processes specific to the UW, as well as to meet other new students.

Campus Life

How can my student get involved with student programs on campus?

There are over 500 student organizations at the UW. These include honorary, professional, social, service, sports, recreational, religious, cultural, and fraternal organizations. FIUTS also has programs for current University of Washington students, scholars and other visitors to our region which create opportunities for exploration, civic engagement, and community building. Learn more about current student programs offered by FIUTS.

Is my student allowed to work while he or she studies at the UW?

It is possible to be employed on campus for fewer than 20 hours per week. Off-campus employment is only allowed with prior authorization from either ISS or Immigration. Review the F-1 employment options or J-1 employment options for more information about employment eligibility.

Money & Finances

How is tuition paid? How much is tuition?

Visit the Student Fiscal Services website to learn your options for paying tuition, as well as other resources regarding rates, financial management, and more. 


How will my student have access to healthcare?

Hall Health Primary Care Center is one of many local options for getting healthcare. It is especially convenient because it is located on campus and offers a variety of services especially for students. The majority of F-1 and J-1 students must purchase UW insurance, although there are a few exceptions. Please review the exceptions and learn more about the waiver process on the International Student Service health insurance information page.


How can my student get a Washington State ID or driver license?

International students can apply for a Washington State ID after they find a place to live in Seattle. For more details and instructions, visit the Washington State Department of Licensing information page.

What are my transportation options if I visit the UW?

Seattle-Tacoma airport (SEA-TAC) is about 17 miles from the UW campus. Taxi, limousine, Link Light Rail and King Country Metro bus service to the UW campus, or any location in Seattle, are available at SEA-TAC Airport. You can find how public transportation can best serve you by using the Plan a Trip tool on the King County website.


What is the weather like in Seattle, WA?

Our average Northwest weather is characterized by cool summers (mid 70s are the norm) and moderate winters (with days in the upper 30s to low 40s). Although we’re known for our rain, the precipitation we get is usually more like mist. A good rain jacket is well worth the investment, although most locals pass on umbrellas. With a wide range in daily temperatures, layering is a great idea. A common surprise for many out of state students is the brevity of day light between mid-November and mid-February

How does my student obtain a Social Security Number?

Social security numbers are issued to international students who have been offered on-campus employment or are authorized for off-campus employment. A Social Security number will not be issued for non-work purposes.

Where should parents/family stay when they are on campus?

There are many hotels and hostels in Seattle. Hostels are usually cheaper than hotels, and have dormitory-style bunk beds shared with other guests. Hostels also have shared kitchens, lounges, or bathrooms. Whether you stay in a hostel or a hotel, it is a good idea to ask about discounts if you plan to stay more than a few days – many hotels have weekly rates. For a list of hostels and hotels, visit the FIUTS housing website