W Grades FAQ

During the quarter, many students may be tempted to withdraw from a course and petition for a "W" grade. However, the "W" grade does not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement. All F-1 and J-1 students must be enrolled in the minimum units to maintain status. The following FAQ is intended to help students and advisors understand ISSS policy regarding W grades.

What is the "W" grade?

Students file for a W grade with their college and/or the Registrar's office to withdraw from a class and to receive a grade of "W". The student does not receive any units for the class.

How does a W grade affect my immigration status?

F-1 and J-1 students must be enrolled full time each quarter to maintain their immigration status. If your total units drop you below full-time enrollment, and you have not received written permission from an ISSS advisor, you will be out of status.

How can I file for a W grade and still maintain my status?

First, you must meet with an ISSS advisor to see if you qualify for a reduced course load. You also must meet with your college or graduate advisor. Keep the following tips in mind as you consider whether to wtihdraw from a course:

  • You can withdraw from a class if you will still be enrolled in the minimum number of units (e.g., you will still be in 12+ units, if an undergraduate).
  • You can withdraw from a class if you have received written authorization from ISSS for a reduced course load.
  • You cannot withdraw from a class if you will be below full-time and don't qualify for a reduced course load.

What happens if I am failing a class? Can I take the W so it won't affect my GPA?

If you qualify for the RCL, then yes, you can take the W grade after obtaining ISSS advisor approval. If you do not qualify and it will drop you below full-time to withdraw, then you cannot file for the W. For your immigration status, it is better to stay enrolled and complete the class, even if you will not pass.

I can't withdraw. Will it affect my status if I don't pass the class?

Our office considers a student to be maintaining status if you are enrolled full-time and are making normal progress towards your degree/program objective. A low GPA typically does not affect immigration status.

What happens if I fail a class more than once and I have a low GPA?

Generally, a D or F grade and/or a low GPA does not impact your immigration status. However, if your academic standing prevents you from enrolling in future quarters, yesit does affect your status. If you are barred or suspended, your status is in jeopardy. You must meet with an ISSS advisor and your college/graduate advisor immediately to discuss your options.