Welcome New Huskies

Commonly asked visa and immigration questions

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

Types of I-20 forms

Which type of I-20 should I request – initial, transfer, or change of status?

There are three different types of I-20’s. Review the descriptions below before selecting the option that best matches your status.

  • Initial I-20: Request an initial I-20 if you will be coming .to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa for the first time to study. If you previously entered the U.S. on an F-1 visa and I-20 issued by another school, but your previous school states you are not eligible to transfer your SEVIS I-20 record or your I-20 is no longer valid, you will require an initial I-20.
  • Transfer I-20: Request a transfer I-20 if you are currently 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. Your current school should transfer/release your I-20 record to the UW which will allow you to continue studies in the U.S. .
  • Change of Status I-20: Request a change of status I-20 if you are currently in the U.S. with another non-immigrant visa/status and wish to file form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with USCIS. Review the information below about changing your status into F-1 before choosing this option.

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

We can only issue an I-20 for your spouse or children if they plan to accompany you when you travel to the U.S. to begin UW classes or they are already in the U.S. and their SEVIS records will be transferred with your I-20 SEVIS record from your previous school to the UW. 

To request an I-20 for your spouse or children, follow the instructions to upload your I-20 Request Form and other required documents via the online submission portal. Attach a separate page with your I-20 Request Form that includes the following information for your spouse and each child.

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth (Month/day/year)
  • Gender
  • City and country of birth
  • Country of citizenship

Make sure to upload a copy of the passport biographical page for your spouse and each child along with the copy of your passport. Also, make sure the bank statement you upload shows sufficient funds for your cost of attendance and living expenses for the entire family. Estimated annual living expenses for a spouse is $10,753 and an additional $8,026 for each child.

If your spouse or children will travel to the U.S. separately after the first day of classes, do not request I-20’s for them at this time. Contact International Student Services to request a dependent I-20 once your spouse and/or children are ready to travel to the U.S.

Requesting your I-20/DS-2019

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

There is no specific deadline for submitting the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form, copy of your passport, and bank statement. However, the UW cannot create your I-20 until all required items are received through the online submission portal. For initial I-20/DS-2019 requests, allow 4 weeks for processing your immigration documents once you have submitted all forms. If your current school will transfer/release your I-20, allow up to 4 weeks for processing from your former school’s transfer/release date of your I-20.

Has my I-20/DS-2019 Request Form and other documents been received? Are they being processed?

Once you uploaded and submitted the required I-20 documents, you will receive an email confirmation that the documents were received.  All email communication related to your I-20 will be sent to your official @uw.edu email account.

Proof of funding & bank documents

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. For students enrolling autumn quarter 2021, you must show proof of funding for $58,121. For students enrolling summer quarter 2021, you must show proof of funding for $77,495. Review the current student budget and health insurance costs for 2020-2021.

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.

Transferring your I-20 SEVIS record to the UW

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?

When completing UW’s I-20/DS-2019 Request Form:

  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. On the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form, provide the exact date your SEVIS I-20 record will be released from your school to the UW.
  3. Complete any “Transfer Out” forms or other authorization forms that may be required by your school. If your school requires a signature from the UW, complete your portion of the form and email a copy to intladm@uw.edu. We will sign the form and email it back to you and/or your school.
  4. The UW does not use a “transfer-in” form. You simply need to complete our I-20/DS-2019 Request Form and upload the required documents via our online submission portal.
  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 within 2-4 weeks of the I-20 release/transfer date indicated on your I-20/DS-2019 Request Form. Your SEVIS ID number and SEVIS record will remain the same with a transfer pending I-20.

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.

Receiving your I-20

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

Due to the global pandemic, the U.S. government announced a temporary policy change allowing U.S. schools to electronically sign and email digital I-20 forms. All I-20 forms will have a digital signature from a Designated School Official (DSO) and will be sent electronically to your UW email address as is required by the U.S. government. Once you receive the official, digital I-20, print the form in color, sign the Student Attestation section on page 1, and keep the document in a safe place. You will need the printed copy of your digital I-20 to apply for an F-1 visa and for travel to the U.S. Further details will be included in the email we send with your UW I-20. Paper I-20 copies will not be mailed.

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 all required forms have been submitted. If you have requested your school transfer/release your I-20 record to the UW for continued studies, allow 2-4 weeks from the date your SEVIS I-20 record is released to the UW for your new I-20 to be processed. 

I did not receive the email with my I-20. Can you send it to a non-UW email address?

No, we cannot send your I-20 to any other email address. Per the U.S. government guidance, digital I-20 forms can be sent to only the official school email address. This is an exception due to the pandemic and is not generally permitted. If you are having troubles receiving UW emails, be sure to add @uw.edu as a safe sender so messages are not filtered as junk/spam. If you have set up email forwarding for your UW email, be sure to use a reliable email account that can receive the forwarded email. Some email providers, like @126.com or @163.com occasionally block emails from @uw.edu so check with your email provider if you are not receiving UW emails.

Reviewing major on your I-20

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

Major/Pre-Major

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, General
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

Applying for a visa

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 for all international freshman & transfers:

Autumn quarter: September 29, 2021

Summer quarter: June 21, 2021

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 F1 student visa applications.

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

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, consular services and visa appointments provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate in your region may be limited. The U.S. State Department announced in February that visa processing has or will resume in all regions around the world as conditions allow. F and J visa processing will continue to be prioritized as services resume. We anticipate students will be able to obtain visas before classes begin in September as conditions improve and vaccines are available.

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 may 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.

Coming to the U.S.

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

If you have an “Initial Attendance” I-20 (Form Issue Reason), you can arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date shown on your I-20. We cannot accommodate requests to change program start dates, even if you have personal travel needs.  

Earliest possible arrival date in the U.S. for international students with an initial I-20:

Autumn quarter: August 30, 2021 (program start date September 29, 2021)

Summer quarter: May 23, 2021 (program start date June 21, 2021)

Early Fall Start (EFS) for freshmen will be offered remotely this year. Review course options and more information on their web page. 

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 F1 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 (9/29 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 F1 visa has expired. A valid F1 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 F1 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 on September 13 to participate in the FIUTS International Welcome Weeks from September 13–24. Participating in the International Welcome Weeks activities will help with your transition: you can learn about the campus, student services, the Seattle area, and meet other UW students. There is no additional registration fee for International Welcome Weeks but a few events may have an entry fee. International students arriving early for FIUTS International Welcome Weeks 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.

Early Fall Start for freshmen only

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 beginning in late August, allowing first year students to take a course one month before fall quarter begins in late September. Freshmen participating in Early Fall Start should use their autumn quarter I-20 to enter the U.S. There is no separate I-20 or different start date for students taking Early Fall Start courses. For autumn 2021, Early Fall Start will be offered remotely and students may participate from outside the U.S. International freshman should not travel to the U.S. early to participate in EFS. The UW start date for all freshman students with an autumn quarter initial I-20 is September 29, 2021 which means you may enter the U.S. any time on or after August 30. If you were issued a transfer pending I-20 by the UW, you are exempt from the 30 day entry requirement and you may return to the U.S. at any time.

The I-20 issued by Admissions is 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.

Non F-1 status international students

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 sign up for an Embark orientation session and you are not required to 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.

Changing from a non-immigrant status into the F-1 student status

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, complete the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form and select Initial I-20. If you will apply for the F-1 visa outside of the U.S., you do not need a Change of Status I-20. 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 WA State residency status for tuition purposes.

If you are planning 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, complete the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form and select Change of Status I-20. Make sure you consult an immigration attorney before choosing this option. If you believe you are considered a Washington State Resident for tuition purposes, contact the Residency Classification Office before you request the I-20 since the change of status may impact your WA state residency status for tuition purposes. 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 update 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, review the International Student Services change of non-immigrant status information to submit your request.