International Student Services

Drop, Withdrawal, and On-Leave Status

Students considering dropping a course, withdrawing from the quarter, applying for a former or current quarter drop or applying for on-leave status should review the following:

  • Will you be registered full-time or part-time after dropping the class?
  • If you would be part-time, does your F-1/J-1 status allow this? (Review below for exceptions to the full-time registration requirement.)
  • What are the Office of the University Registrar’s drop deadlines?
  • Graduate students, how will being on leave affect your F1 status?

Full-Time Registration Required

In general, international students must be registered full-time. This is defined as at least:

  • 12 credits each quarter for undergraduate students
  • 10 credits each quarter for graduate students

Review the Full-Time Enrollment and Exceptions for more definitions.

Quarterly Drop, Withdrawal, Former Quarter Drop, Current Quarter Drop & On-Leave Status

The University’s quarterly drop, withdrawal, former quarter drop, current quarter drop and on-leave status policies sometimes conflict with the F-1/J-1 full-time registration requirement. Even though the UW registration policies might allow you to drop a class, or an academic adviser or professor might recommend you drop a class, you must also consider the F-1/J-1 rules, which are separate. Such a drop might be a violation of your F-1/J-1 status.

Procedure for Dropping/Withdrawing/Applying for On-Leave Status

After the fourteenth calendar day of the quarter, you must receive permission from an ISS adviser for the following kinds of schedule changes:

  • Dropping a course if you will not be registered full-time after the course drop
  • Withdrawal from the quarter
  • Former quarter drop
  • On-leave status through the Graduate School (graduate students only).

As you make plans to drop classes, please consider the questions below:

  • Do any of the full-time registration exceptions, listed below, apply to you?
    • If not, will the drop violate your F-1/J-1 status?
      • If dropping the course will violate your status, are you aware of the serious risks associated with a status violation? Is the reason for the drop (such as GPA concerns) worth the risk?
  • Are there other alternatives, such as changing to an S/NS grading option or replacing the course with an online course so that you are still full-time? Status violation can be a serious matter, making you ineligible for benefits like employment authorization and jeopardizing your stay in and future travel to the U.S.
  • Graduate students: how many quarters will you be on leave and will you be outside the U.S.?

Exceptions to the Full-Time Registration Requirement: F-1 Status

Review the Full-Time Enrollment and Exceptions information.

Exceptions to the Full-Time Registration Requirement: J-1 status

  • Valid academic reason
  • Documented medical condition
  • Final quarter
    • In your final quarter you may take as few credits as required to complete your degree as long as you register for at least one credit at UW. An online class cannot be the only class on your final quarter schedule.
  • Thesis/dissertation credits
    • Graduate students registered for thesis or dissertation credits may register for fewer than 10 credits and be considered full-time for immigration purposes. However, if you have an assistantship, you will still be required to register for 10 credits. Check with your department about registration requirements.
  • Annual vacation quarter
    • An annual vacation quarter is a quarter spent in the United States while not registered for full-time credits. You are eligible for vacation if you have completed one full-time academic year (3 consecutive quarters) prior to the vacation and intend to register for the following term. During your vacation quarter, you may either enroll part-time or not at all.
    • An annual vacation may be requested for any quarter. Summer is the default vacation, and it is not necessary to notify ISS if you take summer as your vacation quarter. However, if you register full-time in summer and will take a different quarter as your annual vacation, notify an ISS adviser.