Immigration Information for Undergraduate International Students
Congratulations on your admission to the Seattle campus as an undergraduate international student! We look forward to welcoming you to our Global Husky Community.
All undergraduate first year and transfer students who require an I-20 or DS-2019 to study in the U.S. or continue studies in the U.S. under the F or J visa category will need to request immigration documents from the Office of Admissions. 3-5 business days after you submit the New Student Enrollment and Orientation Fee (NSEOF), you will receive an email inviting you to UW’s MyISSS immigration platform. You cannot access this platform until you have confirmed enrollment and receive the MyISSS invitation.
Review the topics below for information on the I-20/DS-2019 process as well as answers to the most commonly asked immigration questions. Each topic expands to show more information or questions about that topic.
How do I request an I-20 or DS-2019 for study at the UW?
All F-1 or J-1 first year and transfer students who need an I-20 or DS-2019 for study at the UW, must request immigration documents by submitting the required information through the MyISSS immigration platform. You will receive an email invitation to the MyISSS platform 3-5 days after paying the NSEOF (NSEOF). Use the link from the email and your UW NetID/password to access your MyISSS profile. Follow the instructions on the MyISSS welcome page to submit required information and documents to request your I-20 or DS-2019.
Note: You will not have access to the MyISSS immigration platform until you receive the email invitation 3-5 business days after submitting the NSEOF payment.
How do I transfer my I-20 record from my current or previous school to the UW?
- If you have been attending school in the U.S. and have an active SEVIS I-20 record with another school, consult the international student adviser to request a transfer of your SEVIS record to the UW.
- Confirm the date your current or previous school will release/transfer out your SEVIS I-20 record to the UW.
- Once you have confirmed the release/transfer out date with your adviser, log in to your MyISSS immigration account and complete the “Create I-20” and “Transfer Information” request forms.
- Under the immigration tab, select “Yes, I am currently in the U.S. in F-1 status or I have an active SEVIS record to transfer.”
- Enter the additional information regarding the transfer of your I-20, including your current SEVIS ID number and the release transfer out date.
After the confirmed release/transfer out date, the UW will create the transfer pending I-20 that will allow you to continue your studies in the U.S. 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 cannot create your UW I-20 until your current program ends and the Designated School Official (DSO) at your former school releases 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.
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. The figures used on the I-20/DS-2019 are current tuition and living expenses, since the 2023–24 student budget has not been finalized yet. For students enrolling autumn quarter 2023, you must show proof of funding for $62,404. 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 you submit 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.
Is there a deadline to request my I-20/DS-2019?
There is not a specific deadline. However, you cannot apply for a visa or travel to the U.S. until you have received your immigration documents from the UW. 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.
Can I check the status of my I-20/DS-2019?
Review the information in your MyISSS profile to see the status of your request. The MyISSS profile Welcome page will change to “Pre-Arrival” once your I-20/DS-2019 has been created. Then, under the Requests & Documents tab, the Create I-20 or Create DS-2019 request status will be listed as “complete.” It will take an additional 2–3 days to finish processing and uploading documents to MyISSS once the status is “complete.”
Allow up to 4 weeks after you have submitted all the required information and documents for the UW to process your I-20 or DS-2019. You will receive an email once your official, signed immigration document is available and ready in your MyISSS profile. I-20’s and DS-2019’s will be uploaded to the Requests & Documents section of your MyISSS profile. (The U.S. government no longer requires institutions to mail printed, paper immigration documents.) You must print and sign your I-20/DS-2019 before you apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa and/or travel to the U.S.
Allow 2–4 weeks from the transfer/release date of your existing I-20 for your UW I-20 to be processed. You will receive an email once your official, signed immigration document is ready. I-20’s will be uploaded to the Requests & Documents section of your MyISSS profile. (The U.S. government no longer requires institutions to mail paper I-20 forms.)
You will be assigned a major or pre-major at the time of admission based on your requested major. The major listed on your I-20/DS-2019 follows standard naming conventions used by U.S. Federal Immigration and may be different than the UW assigned major on your MyUW account.
You are not locked in to the major listed on your I-20/DS-2019. You may update your major later if your interests change. (EXCEPTION: Freshmen not admitted directly to computer science, computer engineering or the College of Engineering are unlikely to gain admission to those programs later.)
|Requested major||UW assigned major||I-20/DS-2019 major|
|Business||Offered Direct to Major: Business administration||Business administration and management, general|
|Business||Not offered Direct to Major: pre-major||Multi-/interdisciplinary studies|
|Computer science||Offered Direct to Major: computer science||Computer science|
|Computer science||Not offered Direct to Major: pre-science||Biological and physical sciences|
|Computer engineering||Offered Direct to Major: computer engineering||Computer engineering, general|
|Computer engineering||Not offered Direct to Major: pre-science||Biological and physical sciences|
|Engineering||Offered Direct to Major: engineering undeclared||Pre-engineering|
|Engineering||Not offered Direct to Major: pre-major||Multi-/interdisciplinary studies|
|Math and science majors (ACMS, mathematics, statistics, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)||Pre-science||Biological and physical sciences|
|Social science majors (communications, economics, political science, international studies, etc.)||Pre-social science||Biological and physical sciences|
|Art majors (music, dance, drama, etc.)||Pre-arts||Art/art studies, general|
|English or foreign language majors||Pre-humanities||Humanities/humanistic studies|
Applying for an F-1 visa (student visa)?
U.S. immigration policy allows you to apply for the F-1 visa up to 365 days prior to the program start date listed on the I-20 form issued by the UW.
Applying for a J-1 visa (exchange visitor visa)?
The U.S. State Department allows J-1 visas to be issued at any time before the start date indicated on the DS-2019 issued by the UW for your program of study.
The program start date can be found in the “Program of Study” section on the I-20 or the “Form Covers Period” on the DS-2019. The program start date cannot be changed to accommodate individual travel requests.
Program start dates for all international freshman and transfers:
Autumn quarter, classes start: September 27, 2023
Summer quarter, classes start: June 20, 2023
What documents do I need when I apply for F-1 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.
- A photo to be uploaded 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. 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.
Although you can present a copy of your offer letter as additional evidence, the I-20/DS-2019 form created by the UW is verification of your admission and eligibility to enter the University. Please note that the offer letter cannot be reproduced.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda
You are not required to apply for a visa. You will simply present the I-20 or DS-2019, I-901 SEVIS fee receipt and financial documentation to the immigration officer at the U.S. port of entry. A passport will be required. For more information, visit U.S. Department of State’s travel pages.
U.S. immigration policy allows you to apply for an F-1 visa up to 365 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.
Federal and state laws require that international students maintain adequate health insurance coverage while enrolled at the UW. All students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to purchase the International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP). You will be required to select your preferred insurance options when you register for classes during your Advising & Orientation session.
Contact the ISHIP Office if you have any questions.
You are allowed to arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date shown on your I-20/DS-2019. The earliest admission date (the date you can enter the U.S.) is also printed on your initial I-20/DS-2019. 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/DS-2019:
Autumn quarter I-20/DS-2019 program start date: September 27, 2023
Earliest admission date (entry into the U.S.): August 28, 2023
Summer quarter I-20/DS-2019 program start date: June 20, 2023
Earliest admission date (entry into the U.S.): May 21, 2023
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 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 of the first day of classes at the UW, 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.)
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?
If you received a transfer pending I-20 from the UW (review your I-20 Issue Reason for “Transfer Pending” status), you are exempt from the 30-day entry requirement. You can return to the U.S. at any time.
Can I travel internationally with my transfer pending I-20?
Yes, if you choose to travel internationally, a new visa is not required as long as you 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. and Seattle?
It is your choice when you arrive in the U.S., but we encourage students to arrive in Seattle before classes begin on September 27. We recommend allowing a week or two before classes begin to move into housing and participate in UW’s International Welcome Program and Dawg Daze welcome week. You may apply for early arrival housing if you have a confirmed on-campus housing assignment. If you have never lived in the U.S. before, you may also consider applying for a FIUTS Homestay program.
U.S. immigration requires that you report to the UW by the I-20 start date shown on your I-20. For the UW, that is the first day of the quarter. We cannot change the start date to accommodate individual travel plans. Please plan accordingly.
If you are currently in the U.S. under a non-student visa category such as H4, L2, E2 or TD and you do not qualify for Washington State Residency, you are considered an international student. You are allowed to keep your current non-immigrant visa status as long as your visa allows full-time study at the college level. Since your visa is not sponsored by the UW, you will need to contact the visa sponsor if you have further questions. You are not required to request an I-20, complete the ISS online immigration session or purchase the International Student Health Insurance Program (ISHIP).
What is the difference between F-1 status and an F-1 visa?
Your status is your non-resident category granted by an immigration official. To be in F-1 status means that you are legally in the U.S. and have the benefits and restrictions specified in the F-1 immigration regulations. You can gain F-1 status by entering the U.S. with an I-20 and F-1 visa stamp. Or, if you are already in the U.S. under a different visa category, you can gain F-1 status by applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a change of non-immigrant status.
An F-1 visa is an entry document stamped in your passport that gives you permission to enter the U.S. and, if admitted, granted F-1 status for the period of your studies.
What should I consider if I want to change my current visa status to an F-1 status?
If you are currently in the U.S. under a non-immigrant category such as H4, L2, E2 or TD, there are several things you should consider before you change your current visa status. When will you change your status? How will you change your status? What are the risks and benefits of a status change? We recommend consulting an immigration attorney to help you review and determine what is best for your situation.
I want to change my visa to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to request access to the MyISSS platform if you do not already have access.
- Login to the MyISSS immigration platform and 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 an I-20 to determine if your change of status may impact your residency for tuition purposes.
If you plan to remain in the U.S. and file form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to F-1 with the USCIS before the first day of UW classes:
- 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 the quarter begins to defer the start date of your I-20 form.
I am not planning to change my non-immigrant status to the F-1 student category. If I decide to change my status later, what should I do?
If you intend to change your status into an F-1 student category any time after you begin classes at the UW, there is nothing you need to do now. If and when you want to obtain F-1 status, contact International Student Services to meet with an advisor to discuss the change of status process.