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Immigration Questions

Commonly asked visa and immigration questions

Review the topics below for answers to frequently asked immigration questions. If you do not find the answer to your immigration question, please contact  International Admissions at and use the subject line “I-20/DS-2019 Question.”

How do I request an I-20 or DS-2019 for study at the UW?

After you have accepted the offer of admission and confirmed enrollment by paying the New Student Enrollment & Orientation Fee, you will receive an invitation to login to the UW’s MyISSS (pronounced my i-triple S) immigration platform. The invitation will be sent by email to your UW email account about one week after your NSEOF payment has been processed. Once received, follow the link from the email to login to the MyISSS platform with your UW NetID and password. Once you have logged in to your MyISSS student profile, follow the online instructions to complete required questions, upload documents, and submit your I-20 or DS-2019 Request.

MyISSS welcome pageThe MyISSS platform is your resource for immigration-related requests and information. This platform gives you direct access to your UW immigration information, the ability to submit requests and upload required documents, review the progress/status of your submitted requests, download official immigration documents, and view information as well as announcements related to your F or J visa status.

How do I request an I-20 for my spouse and/or children?

If your spouse or child will apply for a visa at the same time as you and travel with you to the U.S. or they are already in the U.S. with you and their SEVIS records will be transferred with your SEVIS record, you can request an I-20 for each dependent. When you login to your MyISSS immigration account to complete the I-20 request information, you can add each dependent to your request. You will need to upload a digital copy of each dependent’s passport biographical page and make sure the proof of funding you submit includes sufficient funds for the entire family. The estimated annual (12 months) living expenses is an additional $14,124 for a spouse and $8,880 for each child.

If your spouse or children will travel to the U.S. separately after you have arrived, complete the Add a Dependent request through your MyISSS student profile. Do not request a dependent I-20 unless your spouse or child will be traveling together with you to the U.S. Other family members like parents, siblings, or other relatives cannot be considered dependents. They will need to enter the U.S. under a visitor category if they want to travel with you to the U.S.

Is there a deadline for submitting the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form and other supporting documents?

There is not a specific deadline for requesting an I-20 or DS-2019, however, you cannot apply for a visa or travel to the U.S. until you have received your immigration documents from the UW. We require up to 4 weeks to process submitted I-20/DS-2019 requests once all required information and documents have been submitted through the MyISSS immigration portal. We process immigration documents by the date the request was submitted and cannot rush or prioritize late submissions. Please plan ahead and submit your request early so you have time to schedule a visa appointment, make travel arrangements, and arrive in Seattle. If you are studying in the U.S. already and your current school will transfer/release your SEVIS I-20 to the UW, you will receive your new I-20 2-4 weeks after the transfer/release date.

Can I check the status of my I-20/DS-2019?

Once you have entered all of the required information and uploaded required documents to request your I-20 or DS-2019, you will be able to see the submitted information. If any required questions or information is missing, you will not be able to complete the request. Once successfully submitted, allow up to 4 weeks for your I-20 or DS-2019 to be processed. If additional information is needed, we will notify you by email with details of what is needed. We will upload the official copy of your signed I-20 as soon as it is ready and you will receive an email to login to your MyISSS account to download and print your I-20. Your MyISSS profile will change to a new stage where you will see additional pre-arrival information and then Check-In information once it is within 30 days of your I-20 start date. All email communications will be sent to your email account.

How much money do I have to show on bank documents to verify funding?

U.S. immigration policies require international students to show proof of funding for one academic year. The proof of funding must include both academic fees and living expenses for one year. The figures used on the I-20 are current tuition and living expenses since the 2022-2023 student budget has not been finalized yet. For students enrolling autumn quarter 2022, you must show proof of funding for $60,042. For students enrolling summer quarter 2022, you must show proof of funding for $79,532. Review the current student budget and health insurance costs.

What type of bank document or financial verification do I need to submit?

U.S. immigration policies require that the bank document or financial verification be issued within the last 6 months. Documents must be in English but can use either local currency or U.S. dollars. If you are submitting a Certificate of Deposit, there is no minimum period of time that the amount needs to be “locked in.” If you are paying for your educational expenses with multiple funding sources, please submit all relevant financial documents such as a scholarship letter, loan letter, personal bank statement, etc. Documents should be uploaded in your MyISSS student profile.

Do I need to request a transfer I-20?

A transfer I-20 should be requested if:

  • You are currently or have been attending a U.S. high school, college, university, summer academic program, or a language program (even if it is remote) with an active I-20 and SEVIS record.
  • You will participate in a summer program at another U.S. institution prior to classes beginning at the UW.

How do I transfer my I-20 record from my current or previous school to the UW?

If you already have an I-20 from your current school that is active and eligible for a SEVIS transfer, you will need to complete the Create I-20 request and Transfer Information form when to submit your request for a UW I-20. Login to your MyISSS immigration account once you receive the invitation and follow the online instructions to complete required questions, information, and upload required documents. Under the immigration tab, select “Yes, I am currently in the U.S. in F-1 status” if your current school will transfer/release your SEVIS record to the UW.

Before completing the UW Transfer Information form, we recommend you do the following:

  1. Discuss with the international student advisor at your current or previous school when your I-20 can be released (transferred) to the UW. Provide UW’s SEVIS code (SEA214F00265000) to your advisor.
  2. Once the transfer release date is confirmed, complete and submit both the Create I-20 request and Transfer Information form through your MyISSS immigration portal. You will include your current SEVIS ID number and the date your current school has confirmed your SEVIS record will be transferred to the UW.
  3. Complete any “Transfer Out” forms or other authorization forms that may be required by your school. The UW will not complete transfer out forms for your current school. Please provide them a copy of your offer of admission letter as proof of your admission and the UW SEVIS school code to authorize the release of your SEVIS record to the UW. This is all your current school needs to allow the SEVIS transfer.
  4. The UW does not have a separate “transfer-in” form and we do not require your current school complete a transfer form. The transfer process takes place in the SEVIS system and the action of transferring your SEVIS record to the UW is verification of your status and eligibility.
  5. We will create a transfer pending I-20 that will allow you to continue your studies in the U.S. You will receive the transfer I-20 about 2 weeks after the transfer/release date indicated on the Transfer Information form you submit. It can take up to 4 weeks during peak times. Your SEVIS ID number and SEVIS record will remain the same with a transfer I-20 and you are not required to pay the SEVIS fee again.

We will not be able to create your UW I-20 until your current program ends and the Designated School Official (DSO) at your former school releases (transfers out) your SEVIS I-20 record to the UW.

What is the SEVIS school code for the University of Washington?

The SEVIS school code for the Seattle campus of the University of Washington is SEA214F00265000.

Will I receive a digital I-20 or a paper copy from the UW?

The U.S. government announced in November that U.S. schools are allowed to continue issuing digitally signed I-20’s that can be used for visa appointments and travel to the U.S. All I-20 forms created by the UW will have a digital signature from a Designated School Official (DSO) and will be available for you to access from your MyISSS immigration account. Once you receive the email that your I-20 is ready, login to your MyISSS account, go to the Requests & Documents tab, then download and print I-20 (we recommend in color). Once printed, you will need to sign the Student Attestation section on the bottom of page 1. You will need this printed and signed I-20 when you apply for an F-1 visa and/or for travel to the U.S. The I-20 uploaded to your MyISSS account is official and will be accepted by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as well as U.S. Customs & Immigration.

When will I receive the I-20/DS-2019?

Allow 4 weeks for the Office of Admissions to create and process your initial I-20 or DS-2019 once you have submitted the required information and documents. If you have requested your school transfer/release your I-20 record to the UW, allow 2-4 weeks from that transfer/release date for your new UW I-20 to be processed. You will receive an email that your I-20 is ready as soon as the official, signed document is available through your MyISSS account. All emails will be sent to your account. You must login to MyISSS with your NetID and password to access and download your I-20 once it is ready.

Why is the major on my I-20 different than the UW major I requested?

Most freshman are assigned a major or pre-major in a general academic area at the time of admission based on your requested major. The major listed on your I-20 follows standard naming conventions used by U.S. Federal Immigration and may be different than the UW specific major shown on your MyUW account. At the time of admission, you were assigned a UW major/pre-major and the I-20 major field corresponds to that assigned UW major or pre-major.

Below is a list of assigned UW majors/pre-majors based on the requested major and the corresponding major names used on I-20’s approved by U.S. Federal Immigration. Regardless of the major listed on your I-20, you will still be able to update or change your major later once you decide which major you will pursue. You are not locked in to the major listed on your I-20. (Exception: freshmen not admitted directly to Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or the College of Engineering will unlikely be able to select those academic programs later.)

Requested Major

UW Assigned


I-20 Major

Business Business Administration
(offered Direct to Major)
Business Administration and Management, General
Business Pre-Major
(not offered Direct to Major)
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies
Computer Science Computer Science
(offered Direct to Major)
Computer Science
Computer Science Pre-Science
(not offered Direct to Major)
Biological and Physical Sciences
Computer Engineering Computer Engineering
(offered Direct to Major)
Computer Engineering, General
Computer Engineering Pre-Science
(not offered Direct to Major)
Biological and Physical Sciences
Engineering Engineering Undeclared
(offered Direct to College)
Engineering Pre-Major
(not offered Direct to College)
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies
Math & Science majors (ACMS, Mathematics, Statistics, Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc.) Pre-Science Biological and Physical Sciences
Social Science majors (Communication, Economics, Political Science, International Studies, etc.) Pre-Social Science Liberal Arts and Sciences
Art majors (Music, Dance, Drama, etc.) Pre-Arts Art/Art Studies, General
English or Foreign Language majors Pre-Humanities Humanities/Humanistic Studies
Undecided Pre-Major Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies

When can I apply for a visa to study at the UW?

U.S. immigration policy allows you to apply for an F-1 visa up to 120 days prior to the program start date on the I-20 form. The program start date can be found in the “Program of Study” section on the I-20. The program start date cannot be changed to accommodate individual travel requests.  

Program start dates on I-20 for all international freshman & transfers:

Autumn quarter I-20 program start date: September 21, 2022
Autumn quarter UW start of classes: September 28, 2022

Summer quarter I-20 program start date: June 21, 2022
Summer quarter UW start of classes: June 21, 2022

Can I apply for a visa with a digital I-20?

Once you receive the digital I-20 from the UW, you can schedule your visa appointment online at the local U.S. consulate or embassy. You will need the SEVIS number from your I-20 to schedule the appointment. Before your visa appointment, print the I-20 in color and sign it under Student Attestation on page 1. The U.S. government has confirmed visa officers at embassies and consulates will accept a printed copy of the digital I-20 when processing F-1 student visa applications.

What if I can’t apply for a visa because the U.S. embassy or consulate is closed?

Due to a variety of situations around the world, consular services and visa appointments provided by a U.S. embassy or consulate in your region may be limited or have closures. Visa processing has resumed around the world and both F and J visa processing continues to be prioritized. We recommend you monitor the local U.S. consulate’s web page for updates and appointment availability. Apply for your visa as soon as appointments are available and you receive your I-20/DS-2019. Look up Visa Wait Times for Students/Exchange Visitors at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy nearest you.

What documents do I need when I apply for a student visa?

According to the U.S. State Department, the following documents are required when you apply for a student visa:

  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status
  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160
  • A passport valid for at least six months beyond your entry to the U.S.
  • Upload a photo with your online visa application form
  • Application fee payment receipt
  • SEVIS I-901 fee receipt (must be paid at least 3 days prior to visa interview)

Applicants should be prepared to provide the following information or documents if requested:

  • Financial evidence that shows you or your family has sufficient funds to cover tuition, living expenses, and travel costs.
  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended.
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution.
  • Your intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of your studies.

I didn’t receive the offer of admission letter via postal mail. Do I need it for my visa appointment?

No, you are not required to present a copy of your offer letter when you apply for a visa. The I-20 form created by the UW is verification of your admission and eligibility to enter the university. The offer of admission letter that was mailed to each admitted student cannot be reproduced. Although you can present a copy of your offer letter as additional evidence, the I-20 form is the only document required to show proof of admission and eligibility.

When can I enter the U.S. with my initial I-20 issued by the UW?

If your I-20 shows “Initial Attendance” I-20 (Form Issue Reason box), you are allowed to arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date. The earliest admission date (date you can enter the U.S.) is also printed on your initial I-20. The program start date and the classes start date are the same for all international students. We cannot accommodate requests to change program start dates, even if you have personal travel needs.  

Program start date and earliest possible arrival dates for international students with an initial I-20:

Autumn quarter I-20 program start date: September 21, 2022
Autumn quarter UW start of classes: September 28, 2022
Earliest admission date (entry to U.S.): August 22, 2022

Summer quarter I-20 program start date: June 21, 2022
Summer quarter UW start of classes: June 21, 2022
Earliest admission date (entry to U.S.): May 22, 2022

If I am already in the U.S., can I stay over the summer if I receive a transfer pending I-20? What if my F-1 visa has expired – do I have to go back to my country to apply for a new visa?

If you have attended a U.S. high school, college or language program in the U.S. and the last day of your previous program is within 5 months from the first day of classes at the UW (9/28 for autumn quarter, 6/21 for summer quarter), then you are eligible to receive a transfer I-20 for continued studies. Consult the International Student Office at your previous school to confirm your SEVIS record will be transferred to the UW at the end of your academic program.

If you requested a transfer of your SEVIS I-20 record, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. between the end of your previous program and the beginning of UW classes. You are allowed to stay in the U.S. with your transfer pending I-20 even if your F-1 visa has expired. A valid F-1 visa is required at the port of entry when arriving in the U.S. but you are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the Duration of Status (D/S) even after the F-1 visa expires. 

When can I enter the U.S. with my transfer pending I-20 issued by the UW?

If you were issued a transfer pending I-20 by the UW, you are exempt from the 30 day entry requirement. Check the Form Issue Reason on your I-20 form for “Transfer Pending” status.

If you choose to travel internationally, you may return to the U.S. with the same valid F-1 visa. A new visa is not required if you still have an unexpired F-1 visa from your previous school. A new F-1 visa is only required if your previous visa has expired or will expire before you return to the U.S. It is recommended that you apply for your visa in your home country, unless circumstances make that impossible.

When should I arrive in the U.S.?  

It is your choice when you arrive in Seattle but we encourage students to arrive before classes begin September 28. We recommend arriving early to move into on-campus housing if you will live on campus and also to participate in UW’s Dawg Daze welcome program. There will be a variety of welcome events and orientation programs for new students arriving so arriving a week or two before classes begin is suggested. International students arriving early can apply for early arrival housing if you have a confirmed housing assignment. For international students who have never lived in the U.S. before, you may also consider applying for a FIUTS Homestay program.

All students must arrive on or before the first day of the quarter. We do not recommend traveling to the U.S. after the I-20 start date shown on your I-20. U.S. immigration requires that you report to the school by the start date. We cannot change the start date to accommodate individual travel plans. Please plan accordingly.

Do I need a separate or different I-20 for the Early Fall Start Program?

Early Fall Start (EFS) is an extension of the fall quarter that begins in late August. This program allows first year students to register for a course or seminar before autumn quarter classes begin September 28. The credits from that course will be included in your autumn quarter record and will count towards your full time enrollment for autumn quarter. Freshmen participating in Early Fall Start must use their autumn quarter I-20 to travel to the U.S. on August 22. An earlier start date to participate in Early Fall Start cannot be given since the credits and course are applied to your autumn quarter enrollment. The Early Fall Start program will begin August 23 so international students with an initial entry I-20 should plan their travel to the U.S. arriving on August 22. Your autumn quarter I-20 will be valid for both Early Fall Start and for autumn quarter. We cannot accommodate requests to change the start date on your I-20, even if you have personal travel needs. Please make your travel plans accordingly. If you have questions or want to discuss your course options, please contact Early Fall Start at

Can I attend the UW under my current visa status?

If you are currently in the U.S. under a non-immigrant, non-student visa category such as H4, L2, E2, or TD and you do not qualify for Washington State Residency, you will be considered an international student. You are allowed to keep your current non-immigrant visa status and are not required to change your status as long as your current visa allows full-time study at the college level. You are not required to participate in an immigration orientation session, complete the ISS online immigration check-in, or purchase the International Student Health Insurance Program (ISHIP). Do not request an I-20 unless you are planning to change your visa status into an F-1 student category before the first day of UW classes.

What is the difference between F-1 status and an F-1 visa?

Status is your nonresident category granted by an immigration official. To be in F-1 status means that you are legally in the U.S. and have benefits and restrictions specified in the immigration regulations for the F-1 category. You can gain F-1 status either by entering the U.S. with F-1 documents (I-20 and F-1 visa stamp) or, for people already in the U.S. in a different status, by applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a change of non-immigrant status.

A visa is an entry document to the U.S. The F-1 visa stamp in your passport gives you permission to request entry to the U.S. and if admitted, granted F-1 status for the period of your studies.

What do I need to consider if I want to change my current non-immigrant status into an F-1 status?

If you are currently in the U.S. under a non-immigrant category such as H4, L2, E2, or TD, and you intend to change your status into F-1 status, there are several things you need to consider. For example, when you will change your status, how you will change your status, and the risks or benefits to your options. We recommend you consult an immigration attorney to help you review and determine which option is best for your situation. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you planning to change your status before or after the first day of UW classes?
  • Will you apply for an F-1 visa in your home country before returning to the U.S. to begin classes at the UW?
  • Will you stay in the U.S. under your current non-immigrant status and work with an immigration attorney to file form I-539 Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status before the first day of UW classes?
  • Have you reviewed the change of non-immigrant status information on International Student Services (ISS) website and consulted an immigration attorney about the risks, benefits, and timeline for changing your status?

I intend to change my current non-immigrant status into F status before the first day of UW classes. How do I proceed?

If you will travel outside of the U.S. to apply for an F-1 visa before the first day of UW classes, contact International Admissions at to request access to the MyISSS platform if you do not already have access. Once you receive the invitation email, login to the MyISSS immigration platform to request an I-20. Follow the instructions to complete all information and upload required documents. If you believe you are considered a Washington State Resident for tuition purposes, contact the Residency Classification Office before you request the I-20 to determine if your change of status may impact your residency status for tuition purposes.

If you plan to remain in the U.S. and file form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status into F-1 with the USCIS before the first day of UW classes, make sure you consult an immigration attorney to ensure you submit the change of status forms to USCIS correctly. If your change of status to F-1 has not been approved by the first day of UW classes, International Student Services will follow up with you after classes begin to defer the start date of your I-20 form.

I don’t want to change my non-immigrant status to the F-1 student category and I intend to begin classes under my current non-immigrant status. If I decide later to change my status, what should I do?

If you intend to change your status into an F-1 student category anytime after the first day of UW classes, there is nothing you need to do now. As long as your current status is valid and it allows, you can attend the UW under your existing non-immigrant status. You are not required to change your status unless you are not allowed to study full-time at the college level or your current status will end. When and if you want to obtain F-1 status, contact International Student Services to meet with an advisor to discuss the change of status process.