International Student Center
New Students

Visa Types and Government Regulations

  • To study at Seattle University, you must obtain the appropriate visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

    Visa Types

    F-1 visa

    Most international students come to Seattle University on the F-1 student visa. In order to apply for the visa, you will need to obtain the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student. Seattle University will issue the Form I-20 once you have completed the Declaration of Finances form and have been admitted to the university. The I-20 can only be issued to students who plan to study full-time. To apply for an F-1 visa, please contact the nearest embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

    J-1 visa

    Students on short-term exchange programs come to Seattle University on a J-1 student visa. In order to apply for the visa you will need to obtain a DS-2019 form. Seattle University will issue the DS-2019 once you have completed the Declaration of Finances form and have been admitted to the university. To apply for a J-1 visa, please contact the nearest embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

    B-1/B-2 tourist visa

    If your intent is to come to the United States to study, it is not advisable to come on a tourist visa. Most requests to change from tourist to student status are denied by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    B-2 "prospective student" visa

    Prospective student visas are appropriate for students who have been admitted to more than one school, but have not decided which school they will attend. A change of status from prospective student to F-1 should be routinely approved; however, B-2s may not begin studies until the change of status is approved.

    Dependent visas (F-2 or J-2)

    If your dependents would like to stay with you in Seattle, they may apply for a dependent visa (F-2 or J-2). The primary visa holder must show the ability to financially sponsor the dependent(s). Dependents will have their own I-20 or DS-2019. Dependents of F-1 visa holders may not engage in part- or full-time study, except for unmarried minor children in K-12 programs, and are not allowed to engage in any type of employment. Dependents of J-1 visa holders are allowed to study and also permitted to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to be employed.

    Renewing F-1 visas

    It is not possible to renew your F-1 visa in the United States. If you are a continuing Seattle University student who will be traveling outside the United States and will need to renew your F-1 visa, you should bring along your Seattle University transcript and transcripts from other schools you have attended in the United States. Also, please be sure that your I-20 has been recently signed on page 3. The International Student Center can issue visa renewal recommendation letters for students if they have maintained their F-1 status while at Seattle University. In addition, students should check their U.S. Embassy or Consulate for other documents needed for F-1 visa renewal.

    Changing visa status in the U.S.

    The International Student Center will issue current students an “Initial Attendance - Change of Status Requested” I-20 to apply to USCIS for a change to F-1 status in the United States. Submit a Declaration of Finances form and copies of current immigration status documents, visa stamp, and passport ID pages to the ISC. Allow 1 week for processing. You will receive an email from the ISC when your I-20 is ready to pick up.

    *Please note that F-1 benefits of CPT and OPT require one year of full-time study, and an approved change of status in the U.S. allows the student to apply previous full-time study toward this one year requirement. You should submit your application several months in advance and maintain your current status until approved. If your application is denied, you can apply for an F-1 visa in your country of residence.*

    If you have recently been admitted to Seattle University and wish to apply for a change to F-1 status in the United States, you should contact International Admissions. You may submit your own change of status application or an immigration attorney can handle your application.

    Checklist: Application for change of status to F-1

    • Copy of Seattle University “Change of Status Requested” Form I-20
    • Form I-539 and $290 fee
    • Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee
    • Copy of Form I-94
    • Copies of current immigration status documents, visa stamp, and passport ID pages
    • If on a dependent visa, copies of primary visa holder’s immigration documents (for example,  H-4 to F-1, should submit H-1B’s 1-797 Notice, Form I-94, and employer letter)
    • Detailed evidence of financial support
    • Detailed letter explaining the need to change status
    • File the application with USCIS in a timely fashion


    At the port-of-entry to the United States, be sure that you present the I-20 from Seattle University. The school named on your visa must be a match to the school on the I-20, only if it is the first time you are using your I-20. You may also be asked for bank statements or other proof that the sponsor on your I-20 has sufficient funds to cover your yearly expenses. Be sure that you will be entering the United States before the report date in item 5 of your I-20. If you arrive after the report date, you may be refused entry to the United States.

    New Student Reporting Requirement

    Within 15 days after the first day of class, during your first quarter at Seattle University, you must report to the International Student Center with the following documents:

    • I-20 of Seattle University
    • I-20 of all schools that you have previously attended in the United States
    • Passport, visa, and I-94

    Maintaining Status for F-1 Visa Students

    It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your visa during your stay in the United States. If you comply with all of the F-1 visa regulations, you will be considered "in status" and will be eligible for all F-1 benefits. There are four main elements to maintaining status:

    • Completing a full-time course load each quarter. Full time is defined as completing at least 12 credits per quarter for undergraduate students, and at least 9 graduate level credits for graduate students. Please note that registering for the required number of credits is not the same as completing the required number of credits. If you register for the minimum number of classes, then subsequently drop, withdraw, or fail a class, you will not be completing the required number of credits. Choose your classes carefully!
    • Keeping I-20 or DS-2019 current. Report any changes of major, address, name, or sponsorship to the International Student Center so that this information may be changed on your I-20 or DS-2019. Your I-20 or DS-2019 should not expire before you complete your degree at Seattle University. If it is going to expire, come to the ISC before the expiration date to obtain information about extension. Don't forget to have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed by the International Student Advisor at least once per year.
    • Holding valid passport. You must have a valid passport at all times while in the United States. If your passport will be expiring this year, contact your country's embassy or consulate in the United States well ahead of the expiration date for information about how early you will need to start the renewal process, and the type of supporting documents you will need. The ISC can assist you in locating the nearest embassy/consulate.
    • Working only with proper authorization. Working off-campus is only possible under certain conditions and always requires prior approval from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or the International Student Center. Working illegally is a serious offense and can result in you being forcibly deported from the United States.

    Travel and Re-Entry to the United States

    Be sure that you are prepared with the following documents before you attempt to re-enter the United States from abroad:

    • Signed I-20/DS-2019. When you're planning a trip outside of the U.S., check page 3 of your I-20 or page 1 of the DS-2019 to be sure that an International Student Advisor has signed within the last 6-8 months. If not, you will need to drop off your I-20 or DS-2019 at the International Student Center to be signed. Please allow 3-5 working days for signatures. Before signing, the advisor will need to obtain your school records to verify your full-time enrollment, current address, and academic progress.
    • Valid F-1/J-1 Visa. The dates on your F-1/J-1 visa are important when you are crossing international borders and entering the United States. You will need to have a valid F-1/J-1 visa when entering the United States from overseas. If you are returning from a short trip (less than thirty days) to Canada, Mexico, or several adjacent islands, you can return on an expired F-1 visa, as long as you have a valid passport, I-94 card, and a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with an advisor's signature. If you need to renew your F-1/J-1 visa, you can obtain information from the nearest consulate/embassy.
    • Valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your entry to the United States (passport agreements between the U.S. and some countries allow for exceptions to this rule).