International Student Services

Change Level of Study

Overview

You were admitted to the United States to complete a specific educational program as reflected on your I-20 or DS-2019. If your academic program will change, it is your responsibility to request an update to your SEVIS record and obtain a new, accurate I-20 or DS-2019. In updating your SEVIS record, International Student Services (ISS) notifies Immigration that you are beginning studies a new degree level. For example, if you are completing a Master’s degree and will begin a PhD program, your I-20 or DS-2019 must be updated to reflect the correct level of education.

Change of Level Instructions

F-1 Students

If you are completing your current degree or finishing your authorized OPT and are admitted to a new, higher degree program at the UW, you must request a change of level update within your 60-day grace period. However, you are not eligible for change of level update if your new program will not begin within 5 months. Contact your ISS adviser with questions about program timelines, document updates and travel issues.

Undergraduate students:

If you are a completing a UW Bachelor’s degree (or if you are in your approved OPT period following your UW Bachelor’s degree) and have accepted an offer to begin graduate studies (Master’s, Doctoral) at the UW:

  • Inform your ISS advisor of your expected graduation date (or if you are on OPT, your last day of employment).
  • Request a Change of Level I-20 from Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS) in your online admissions application’s Next Steps Page.
  • Warning: if you are currently in your OPT period, remember that your OPT authorization will be cancelled on the first day of the quarter of your graduate program.
Graduate students:

If you are changing from a Master’s degree to PhD or vice versa (or if you are in your approved OPT period following your Master’s or PhD), follow these instructions to request the new I-20:

If you submitted a new application through MyGrad:

  • Inform your ISS advisor of your expected graduation date.
  • Request a Change of Level I-20 from Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS) in your online admissions application’s Next Steps Page.
  • Warning: if you are currently in your OPT period, remember that your OPT authorization will be cancelled on the first day of the quarter of your new graduate program.

If your department did not require you to submit a new application through MyGrad, request your new I-20 from ISS. See instructions below.

  1. Complete and submit a Change of Level Request Form to ISS together with supporting documentation.
  2. Allow 7-10 business days for ISS processing.
  3. You will receive an email from ISS (uwiss@uw.edu) when your document is ready for pick up.

J-1 Students

If you are completing your current program objective or finishing your authorized Academic Training and will continue at the UW in a higher degree program, you must request an update to your DS-2019. The request must be made to ISS or your program sponsor (listed under section 3 of your DS-2019) before your current program end date (indicated in section 5 of your DS-2019).

Frequently Asked Questions

I have been accepted into new program which begins Fall quarter, but I’m going home for the Summer. Can I use my current immigration document to travel and then get a new one when I return?

Before you leave for the summer, you should request and obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect your change of level. Since you will be returning for the autumn quarter to pursue a different program of study, you will need to travel with a new document that reflects the new program.

I have an on-campus job. After I complete my lower level degree, can I keep working on-campus until I start my new degree?

Yes, students who complete a degree level at UW and who are admitted to begin a higher degree can work in an on-campus job between the two levels, as long as the change of level process is done correctly and meets the government’s requirements.

I am currently on OPT. I would like to come back to school before OPT ends. Can I continue to work on OPT once I start a new program?

Your OPT ends when you begin a new degree program. However, you may choose to continue working up until the day before the new program start date.

If you are an F-1 undergraduate student on OPT, who is now accepted into a graduate program at the UW, remember that your new I-20 will be issued by Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS).  Request a Change of Level I-20 from Graduate Enrollment Management Services in your online admissions application’s Next Steps Page.