International Parents

Welcome to GW!

Welcome to the George Washington University community!  The International Services Office (ISO), under the Division of Student Affairs, is proud to provide support and services to over 4,200 international students and scholars.  The Division of Student Affairs and the International Services Office recognize the important role that families play in a student’s life while studying at the George Washington University. We aim to provide resources and services to international family members that will assist them in supporting their student throughout the duration of their studies. There are many offices, resources, and services available for students and families at GW that we hope you and your student will utilize to the fullest. The Office of Student Support and Family Engagement is a first contact point for all GW family members; please reach out to them for further information regarding GW communication.

General Immigration Information & Travel

ISO Advisors are available for walk-in hours Monday through Thursday, 1:30-3:30 pm, and by appointment to offer immigration advice to F-1 and J-1 students and to connect students with available resources at the university.  The ISO processes all immigration related requests for international students, such as travel signatures, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) employment, Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment, Social Security support letters and more.  Requests can take up to 10 business days, which do not include weekends or GW-observed holidays, so it’s important for students to plan ahead.

Helpful Links

  • Check-in - All international students are required to check-in with the International Services Office (ISO) when they arrive at GW for the first time. Here is important information in the New Student Resources page. 
  • Advising Assignments- Each GW school or college has an ISO International Student Advisor assigned to work with students from that school.  
  • Important Forms and Handouts- The ISO has forms and handouts available explaining requests and processes in greater detail.  If students have questions about a process we encourage them to visit with their ISO advisor.
  • Study in the States – The US Government provides important information for F-1 and J-1 international students studying in the United States.

Three Things International Parents Should Know

  1. What immigration documents does my student need?
    International students typically have four immigration documents. These documents include:
        - Passport – must be valid at least six months into the future upon entry into the US and renewed prior to expiration.  Renewal can typically be done at embassies and consulates in the DC area.- Visa – must be valid at the time of entry into the United States, but can expire while a student is in the US as long as the student continues to maintain legal immigration status.   If a student with an expired visa plans to travel abroad, they should plan sufficient time to renew their visa abroad.  Expired visas cannot be renewed within the United States.
        - I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) – F-1 and J-1 students must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 while pursuing their program of study in the United States.  If a student’s document will expire soon, he or she should speak with an ISO Advisor at least sixty days prior to the expiration date to discuss a possible extension.
        - I-94 – The I-94 is an electronic document recording travelers’ arrival/departure information. Visitors should access their lawful record of admission by visiting the CBP website. We encourage each F-1 and J-1 traveler to save a copy of their electronic I-94 each time they enter the US. 
  2. What is a travel signature and why is it important?
    Whenever students are planning on traveling abroad, they will need a travel signature from their ISO Advisor (see Advising Assignments) on their GW immigration document. Although a travel signature is not required when a student leaves the US, it is important to obtain prior to departure because it is required to re-enter the US. Like other requests, travel signature requests can take up to 10 business days to process, so students should plan accordingly in order to receive their documents back in a timely manner prior to departure.
  3. How many credit hours does my student need to enroll in and complete each semester?
    All international students must be continuously enrolled as full-time students every fall and spring semester in order to maintain their lawful immigration status. Full-time enrollment for undergraduate students is a minimum of 12 credit hours, and a minimum of 9 credit hours for graduate students. Exceptions to this requirement are possible, but only with prior written authorization for special situations, such as certain medical conditions, final term of the degree program and in some cases academic difficulties. Students who think they may be eligible should meet with their ISO Advisor prior to making a decision about dropping below full-time enrollment.

Safety & Security

The GW Office of Emergency Management seeks to provide a safe and secure environment on campus for all members of the GW community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through patrol services, crime prevention education and the coordination of safety and security for special events. Students and parents can sign-up to receive up-to-date alerts in case of emergencies or campus occurrences.

The following links provide information about campus security, tips and precautions and alerts of campus occurrences.

General Safety & Security Information

GW Campus Alerts & Advisories


FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ educational records. GW students have access to examine and review their educational records, and to request changes to information that may be incorrect. Additionally, GW cannot disclose these records to any others, including parents, without students’ written consent, unless for exceptions recognized by the law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Career Services/Employment

The career services offices at GW provide students a wide array of services such as career coaching, self-assessment, assistance with cover letters, resumes, networking and interviewing. Additionally, the GWork website offers job listings for on- and off-campus employment, including internships and post-graduation careers. Below are links to each of the GW college’s career service centers.  Please note that international students have limitations on the number of hours they can work per week and typically need prior authorization before engaging in employment. Please see the links below for more information. 

International Student Employment Information

GW Job Listings

  • Handshake (job listings accessible to current students and alumni only)

GW Career Services Offices

Student Health Service

The Student Health Service offers assistance to GW students for medical needs. Students can make appointments or walk in during business hours for more urgent medical needs.  Medical advice is available 24/7 with an after hours nurse hotline.

GW Student Health Services

Health Insurance

All GW students in F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor status are required to have health insurance. International students are automatically enrolled in the University health insurance plan (provided by Aetna) when they enroll at GW, with the option to opt-out within a waiver period if they already have other insurance that meets the minimum requirements (see link below). Having health insurance guarantees students will be able to receive treatment in the event of an illness or injury, and obtain routine services from doctors, such as physical examinations and immunizations.

GW International Student Health Insurance