International Student Services

Returning Students

General Information

If you are a student returning to the University of Washington after an absence to complete the degree program in which you were last enrolled, you must follow certain procedures. When considering a return to the UW, allow enough time to receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 and apply for a new visa, if required.

Travel

The new I-20 or DS-2019 will be an “initial entry” document; this means that you can enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start date printed on the I-20 or DS-2019. Make your travel plans accordingly.

Eligibility for Benefits

You will regain eligibility for benfits such as Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) only after completing three full-time quarters after your return with the new SEVIS record.

Full-Time Registration

You must register full-time in your first quarter back, even if you return summer quarter. For undergraduates, “full-time” is defined as 12 credits. Graduates: please consult your DSO to discuss full-time requirements. Usually “full-time” is defined as 10 credits, with some exceptions.

Undergraduate Students

If you were not enrolled for two consecutive academic quarters or more, excluding summer, and wish to return to the University of Washington, you must follow the procedures below.

  1. Review the Returning Student Reenrollment Policies of the Office of the Registrar, and comply with the listed requirements. Note their application deadlines.
  2. Complete the Returning Student Application and submit it to the Registration Office. Be sure to update your mailing address through your MyUW account.
  3. Submit the online Returning Student I-20 Request to International Student Services (ISS) approximately three months before your intended return (or at the same time you submit the Returning Student Application to the Registration Office, if applicable). Applications submitted within 10 business days of the quarter start date will be processed for the next quarter. You will need to upload scans of your passport identification page and financial support documentation. The financial documentation must show enough funds to pay for at least three quarters of expenses (unless you are requesting an I-20 for only one or two quarters).

    Request New I-20 to Return to UW

  4. Your new I-20 or DS-2019 will be issued only after your Returning Student Application is processed by the Registration Office, if applicable, and your Returning Student I-20/DS-2019 Request is received by ISS.
  5. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee after you receive your new I-20 or DS-2019 ($200 for F-1 students, $180 for J-1 students). This is required when a new SEVIS record is created. Carry the receipt to your visa interview, if applicable, and when you travel to the U.S.
  6. After you return to Seattle, you must upload scans/photos of your F-1 or J-1 documents to ISS. See the instructions below in the “After You Return to Seattle” section.

Graduate Students

Graduate students are required to maintain graduate student status during their program of study. Failure to maintain this status requires reinstatement to the University of Washington.  See Graduate On-Leave Status for on-leave eligibility, the procedure for requesting leave, and information about reinstatement.

Graduate Students Returning After On-Leave Status

You may automatically register for the return quarter during the prescribed registration period. Follow procedures outlined below:

  1. Submit the online Returning Student I-20 Request to International Student Services (ISS) approximately three months before your intended return. Applications submitted within 10 business days of the quarter start date will be processed for the next quarter. You will need to upload scans of your passport identification page and financial support documentation. The financial documentation must show enough funds to pay for at least three quarters of expenses (unless you are requesting an I-20 for only one or two quarters).

    Request New I-20 to Return to UW

  2. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee after you receive your new I-20 or DS-2019 ($200 for F-1 students, $180 for J-1 students). This is required when a new SEVIS record is created. Carry the receipt to your visa interview, if applicable, and when you travel to the U.S.
  3. After you return to Seattle, you must upload scans/photos of your F-1 or J-1 documents to ISS. See the instructions below in the “After You Return to Seattle” section.

Graduate Students Without On-Leave Status

  1. If you wish to resume studies within the same degree program you must file a request for academic reinstatement to the Graduate School approximately three months before your intended return. Once approved for reinstatement you will be prompted to pay the $250 reinstatement fee to the Graduate School. After this is paid, the Graduate School will process your academic reinstatement into your graduate program.
  2. The Graduate School GEMS office will process your returning student I-20. Log-in to your original Graduate School application for admission and go to “check application”. Download the I-20 Request form and upload the completed form into your application, with any supporting financial documentation.
  3. Email uwgrad@uw.edu when you have completed this process and your I-20 request will be assigned to one of the GEMS advisors for processing.
  4. Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee after you receive your new I-20 or DS-2019 ($200 for F-1 students, $180 for J-1 students). This is required when a new SEVIS record is created. Carry the receipt to your visa interview, if applicable, and when you travel to the U.S.
  5. After you return to Seattle, you must upload scans/photos of your F-1 or J-1 documents to ISS. See the instructions below in the “After You Return to Seattle” section.

Visas

If your visa is still valid, you will not need to renew your visa regardless of the length of time outside the U.S.

If your visa has expired, apply for the visa in your home country, unless circumstances or travel plans make this impossible, and anticipate delays in visa issuance due to enhanced security reviews. U.S. consulates require in-person interviews for most visa applicants. You are encouraged to schedule the visa interview appointment as early as possible. The U.S. Department of State maintains an excellent website on the visa application process, and it should be studied carefully. You can also find information about how long it will take to get your visa.

After You Return to Seattle

After you return to Seattle, you must upload scans or photos of the following documents to the ISS Immigration Document Upload System before the beginning of your return quarter.

If you do not upload scans of your documents, we cannot verify your F-1 or J-1 status, and we cannot verify your return to the U.S. government–this endangers your immigration status!

Step 1: Scan or take photos of the following required documents:

  • I-20 or DS-2019 (Scan after you sign the I-20 or DS-2019).
  • I-94 record (Access your I-94 record at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
  • F-1 visa or J-1 visa
  • Passport biographical page
  • Passport expiration date page (if different from biographical page)

Step 2: Upload scans/photos to the ISS Immigration Document Upload System before the first day of classes in your return quarter.

Step 3: Update your local Seattle-area address and phone number in MyUW.

Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduates

Do I need to complete a Returning Student Reenrollment Application if I am outside the U.S. summer and fall quarters only?

No, but you do need to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 by completing the Returning Student I-20 Request. F-1 students who are outside of the U.S. for more than five months and not registered full-time are required to obtain a new I-20 prior to returning to the U.S.

What happens if I am gone winter and spring quarters?

Students gone for two or more quarters, summer quarter excluded, are required to apply for a new I-20 from the ISS Office and to submit a Returning Student Application to the Registration Office.

To make things easier, can I simply send all of my application materials to ISS?

No, you must first submit the Returning Student Application and required fee to the Registration Office. Then complete the Returning Student I-20 Request to ISS.

Graduate Students

What is the difference between “on-leave” and “annual vacation quarter?”

“On-Leave” is a Graduate School policy pertaining to students who are not registered for one or more quarters (excluding summer). Graduate students may apply to go on-leave for one quarter, one year, or longer. When planning to go on-leave, F-1 and J-1 students must also consider the effect on their F-1 or J-1 status.

“Annual vacation quarter” is an immigration concept. Students are eligible for a vacation quarter after having completed three consecutive full-time quarters and if they intend to register full-time the quarter following the vacation.

Can I go on-leave for three quarters?

Yes, but you may only remain in the U.S. during that time if you also fit one of the exceptions to the full-time registration rule for F-1 and J-1 students. Otherwise you must plan to stay outside the U.S. during your on-leave period and apply for a new SEVIS record and I-20 when you want to return.

I am planning to do research outside of the U.S. for more than five months. During that time I will be paid as an RA and registered for 10 credits each quarter. Do I need to apply for on-leave status?

No, as long as you are registered you do not need to apply for on-leave status. In addition, because your SEVIS record will remain active, you do not need to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 prior to your return.

I have been out of the U.S. and on-leave for the past year. I will come back next month to defend my dissertation. Do I need a new I-20 or DS-2019?

Yes, it is advised that you enter the U.S. in student status, even if just to defend your dissertation. To request a new I-20 or DS-2019, complete the ISS Returning Student I-20 Request.