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International Student Services

Vacation Quarter


F-1 and J-1 regulations permit one vacation quarter each year. This is an annual exception to the full-time enrollment requirement.

During your annual vacation quarter, you can:

  • Enroll part-time or not at all (graduate students: consult your graduate program coordinator about enrollment requirements if you have an RA or TA position)
  • Work on campus more than 20 hours per week
  • Stay in the U.S. or travel internationally, or a combination of both
  • Study at other schools in the U.S., take online classes, etc.

After your vacation quarter, you will be eligible for another annual vacation after 3 consecutive full-time quarters.

Note: unused vacation quarters do not accumulate or “roll over.” For example, if you enroll full-time for six consecutive quarters, you cannot take two vacation quarters in one academic year.  A vacation quarter is an optional, “use it or lose it” benefit.


You are eligible for the annual vacation quarter if you:

  • Completed three consecutive full-time quarters prior to the vacation quarter
  • Intend to register full-time following the vacation quarter for three consecutive quarters again (unless you qualify for a different part-time exception, such as for medical reasons, final quarter, etc.)
  • Did not work on campus more than 20 hours per week during the three consecutive full-time quarters prior to the vacation quarter
  • Are not in the first quarter of a new degree program
  • Are not in your final quarter; for part-time enrollment permission in your final quarter, apply for the “Final Quarter Reduced Course Load” which is a separate exception to the full-time rule.
  • If you begin your UW program in winter or spring quarter, you will be eligible for your first summer vacation.

Summer Vacation

Most students register full-time autumn/winter/spring quarters, and take summer as the annual vacation quarter.

If summer is your vacation quarter, you do not need to request special permission.
If you are eligible for your annual vacation in summer, you can ignore the message on your MyUW page (the system does not know if a student is eligible for a vacation quarter, so it always shows this warning if a student is not registered full-time).

Sometimes students follow a different enrollment pattern. Students might register full-time in summer and request an “alternative vacation quarter” for either autumn, winter, or spring quarter.

If you take an “alternative vacation quarter” you cannot take the following summer as a vacation quarter. You must complete three full-time quarters before your next annual vacation quarter.

How to Apply

Apply for an alternate vacation quarter through MyISSS.

Log into MyISSS

Campus Employment

You are allowed to work on campus (for UW) more than 20 hours per week during your annual vacation quarter. For more information, review the on-campus employment webpage.

Graduate students with summer RA/TA positions review Graduate Students Reminders.

Staying in the U.S. & Travel

During your annual vacation quarter you can remain in the U.S.

You can also travel internationally. If you plan to travel internationally, be sure to review our list of documents to prepare prior to travel.

Study at Other Schools During Your Vacation Quarter

You are allowed to take classes at other schools during your annual vacation quarter.

  • Student must plan to return to UW the quarter following the vacation quarter. There is no need to transfer your SEVIS record to the other school.
  • Even if you study full-time elsewhere, it will still count as your annual vacation quarter because your I-20 and F-1 status is connected to UW.
  • Consult your academic adviser to ensure your credits will transfer back to UW.
  • Undergraduate Admissions is the office that evaluates and processes transfer credits after you complete your courses elsewhere. Contact Admissions to learn how to transfer credits back to UW at

Medical Insurance

Make sure to have medical insurance when staying in the U.S. during your annual vacation quarter.

  • ISHIP coverage: Refer to the ISHIP office for eligibility and contact them if you have questions.
  • GAIP coverage: Contact the UW Benefits office if you have questions about eligibility.

Graduate Students Reminders

Graduate On-Leave Status

“On-Leave” and “Annual Vacation” are two different policies. On-leave status is a UW academic policy only. As an international student, you must also consider immigration policies. To have On-Leave status and remain in the U.S., you must also be eligible for an annual vacation for that particular quarter.

You must request On-Leave status if you plan to take your annual vacation in a quarter other than summer. This maintains your continuous enrollment at the UW. Please review the Graduate School’s On-Leave policy and application instructions.

If you are a J-1 graduate student who plans to request On-Leave status and travel outside of the U.S., consult your ISS adviser.

Summer RA or TA Appointments

Some summer RA or TA appointments require 2 credits of registration (Graduate School rules–consult your graduate program coordinator for more information). This is generally considered full-time enrollment for summer quarter.

What if you want to work additional on-campus hours (more than 20 hours per week) but you will still enroll because of your RA or TA position?

During your annual vacation quarter, you can enroll in classes and take advantage of an alternate vacation quarter benefit.

If this is your summer quarter situation, let us know via the Contact ISS form to declare your vacation quarter. You won’t be eligible for another vacation quarter until you complete three more full-time quarters.

UW Student Services and Benefits

Vacation quarter approval is only a notification from ISS to the U.S. government. A vacation quarter might affect eligibility for other UW services and benefits, unrelated to F-1 status, such as:

  • On-campus housing
  • Hall Health Center services
  • Husky Card services
  • U-Pass transportation
  • Building access
  • On-campus employment
  • Health Insurance

Contact the offices managing the service or benefit to learn if you lose access if you take a vacation quarter.