International Scholars

International applicants who desire to come to UW and the Department of Genome Sciences as a postdoctoral fellow will need to have a professor sponsor their visit. In order to determine the status, prospective scholars must interview with a lab to find an appropriate Genome Sciences mentor to work with.

Please do not make travel arrangements until you have received instructions from the Administrative office in our Department, have your official documents in hand, and have made your appointment with the US Consulate or Embassy. It can sometimes take several months to get an appointment! If you make travel arrangements first, you may find that your Consulate appointment date is delayed, and the airline will not issue a refund.

New Scholars

Once you have negotiated your visa application, travel to Seattle, and attendance at your various orientation sessions, you can settle into your routine as an international scholar in the Department of Genome Sciences.  We hope that your visit will prove rewarding, both professionally and personally.  
During your stay here it will be important for you to maintain contact with the International Scholars Organization (ISO).  ISO will help to provide you with immigration advising for maintaining your legal status.

Follow this list to help prepare for your arrival at Genome Sciences:

1. Receive your employment invitation documents

Before applying for your visa stamp, make sure you have the appropriate employment authorization document:

F-1 OPT/OPT: EAD or I-20 authorization, respectively

J-1: DS-2019
Pay SEVIS Fee  

H-1B: I-797 Approval Notice

TN: Employment offer letter (Canadian TN persons will not need visa stamps, but they will need this document to apply for admission)

2. Understand your J-1 category

If you are a prospective J-1 Exchange Visitor, make sure you understand the limitations of your J-1 category:

3. Apply for your visa

4. Enroll in Healthcare coverage

Before arriving in Seattle:

5. Make Housing Arrangements

6. Prepare to Enter the U.S.

Review your passport and visa page. Your first/given name and last/family name should be the same on both documents. If there are any errors, contact our office immediately. Place your original passport, financial statement or support letter, and employment documents in your purse or carry-on baggage to present to the inspector upon entering the U.S.

7. Register with the UW International Scholars Organization

All new international scholars (including postdocs and visitors) must visit UW's International Scholars Organization (ISO) upon arrival in the U.S. Registration is required for ALL new scholars who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.  Please make sure to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in Seattle. A failure to check in with ISO within 30 days of your program start date could have serious consequences. Review this information carefully, and contact ISO if you have questions.

Bring your passport, DS-2019, I-94 record, Seattle-area residence address and Insurance Compliance Statement.

Please bring the following documents, depending on your status:

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

J-1 Exchange Visitor

NOTE: Failure to register may result in the termination of your SEVIS record and/or loss of your J-1 status.

H-1B Temporary Specialty Worker


**For all Change of Status bring your I-797 Approval Notice.

Required Check-In with International Scholars Operations:


Please Be Aware:


The Difference Between Visa and Status

It is common to confuse the terms visa and I-94/non-immigrant status. Yet you will need to clearly know the difference in order to understand your rights and responsibilities while in the United States.
Remember, both visas and statuses are specific to the primary purpose of your application for admission to the U.S. and the duration of your visit. Your non-immigrant status determines which rules you will need to follow once in the U.S.

I-94/Non-immigrant status

The I-94 status, also known as a non-immigrant status, defines the terms under which non-citizen visitors can temporarily reside in the U.S. Your I-94 can be accessed through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Each I-94 status has a set of regulations that govern the activities of international visitors. I-94 status imposes both rights and responsibilities.

Your rights include:

Also, an I-94 status requires you to fulfill certain responsibilities.

Your responsibilities include:

All internationals are issued an I-94 status upon entry into the U.S. An I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, a small white card, will be stapled into your passport (see image below). This is most commonly called the "I-94 card." The I-94 card is documentary evidence for non-immigrant status.

Because the U.S. government has no jurisdiction outside of the country, you cannot have an I-94 status anywhere else but in the United States. So when you leave, an immigration officer (or airline representative) will open your passport and take back the I-94 card; thereby taking back your I-94 status (if you plan to return soon to resume your primary purpose, your non-immigrant status usually can be activated again upon reentry).



A U.S. visa is an official authorization affixed to a valid passport, granting permission to request entry into the U.S. in that particular non-immigrant classification.

See a list of I-94/ non-immigrant visa status categories commonly found at UC San Diego.

A visa must be shown at the port of entry to the U.S. to gain admission with I-94 status. Once in the U.S., you will not need a visa until the next time you wish to enter the U.S.

Think of your visa as a key. Like a key, you will only use your visa to "open the door" and enter. Once in, you do not use your key until you leave and need to re-enter.

Only a U.S. Consulate can issue visas to enter the country. Consulates may have offices in a U.S. Embassy or they may have their own stand-alone offices; they are always located outside of the U.S. Therefore, you can only apply for a visa if you are outside of the U.S.

At a U.S. port of entry (such as an airport) you must show your visa to an officer from the Department of Homeland Security. By presenting your visa, you are applying for the related I-94 status.



Important information for all visa holders:


For J-1 Scholars, please visit the UW International Scholars Organization’s J-1 Reference Guide:

Health Insurance Requirements:

For H-1B Scholars, please visit the UW International Scholars Organization’s H-1B Reference Guide:

For TN Scholars, please visit the UW International Scholars Organization’s TN Reference Guide:

I-94 Arrival/ Departure Record:

Tax Information for International Scholars:

Leaving the UW: Important visa and tax information:


Change of address


Don’t let your DS-2019 expire


Don’t let your passport expire


Work only with authorization


Maintain health insurance


30-day “grace period”


Registration Documentation


Travel within the US

If you travel by air, train, bus or ship within the US, you may be required to show your passport and I-94 record when boarding. Keep photocopies of your passport and I-94 in a separate location from the original documents. Photocopies do not substitute for the originals but can make replacing them a bit easier in the event they are lost or stolen. Guard your documents carefully!


Leaving UW: Important visa and tax information

Please review this important information. It was our pleasure serving you and we wish you success in your future activities.