W Grades FAQ

I’m an international student. Am I eligible for a W or NP?  Will it affect my immigration status?

International students in F-1 or J-1 status must be enrolled full-time each fall, winter, and spring quarter. If you are changing your enrollment from A/F to W or NP, you need to receive approval for a reduced course load from International Student Services and Programs (ISSP) before a W or NP can be approved. The RCL form will also be routed to your academic/College advising office for approval before a W/NP is applied to your record.

EAP and exchange students should also reach out to their home university and UCEAP (if a UCEAP Student). Approval for a reduced course load from ISSP is not the same as the University Part-time Program.

You may be tempted to submit a drop request for a “W” (Withdraw) or “NP” (No Pass) grade. Be aware that if you drop the course with a “W” or “NP” grade, the course does not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement. International students must be enrolled in the minimum number of full-time units to maintain F-1 or J-1 immigration status. Instead, you might be able to change your grading option from  A, B, C, D, F  to P/NP (Pass/No Pass) and should attempt to pass the course. 

Note: this option is only available to students in good academic standing through
the 9th week of the quarter and may be prohibited by the 25% limit or major policies. Be sure you consult with your College Advisor about this.

What is a W or Immediate NP grade?

The student submits a drop request to withdraw from a class and to receive a grade of “W” or “NP.” The student does not receive any credits for the class.

How does dropping a course with a W or NP affect my immigration status?

If your total credits drop below full-time enrollment, and you have not received authorization for Reduced Course Load (RCL) from an international student advisor, you will fall out of F-1 immigration status. Your F-1 status would be at risk of termination and you would be expected to depart the U.S. 

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

  1. Meet with an international student advisor to see if you qualify for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)
  2. The student submits a drop request to receive a grade of “W” or “NP” and stops attending the class.

Keep the following in mind:

  • You can drop a course with a W or NP if you will still be enrolled in the minimum number of units after the course is dropped (for example, you will still be in 12+ units, if an undergraduate).
  • You can withdraw from a class once you have received written authorization from an International Student Advisor for a Reduced Course Load (RCL). Be sure to work with your College or Graduate Advisor regarding university deadlines as well.
  • If you choose P/NP as a grading option and attempt to pass the class, you will maintain your immigration status, regardless of the final grade you receive (P or NP). This is different from taking an immediate NP (through the drop process) and no longer attempting to pass the course. 
  • You cannot drop a class if you will be below full-time and don’t qualify for the RCL.

May I choose to take a class P/NP instead of choosing a letter grade (ABCDF)? 

  • If you choose P/NP as a grading option, this will still count toward your full-time student status. 
  • If you choose to take an immediate NP (through the drop process,) then the class units will not count.

If I am failing a class, can I take the W or NP so it won’t affect my GPA?

If you qualify for the RCL and have ISSP approval (or if you are enrolled full time beyond the dropped course), you may take a W or immediate NP (or drop the class altogether in the first 3 weeks of the quarter, assuming you are still enrolled in at least 12 units total). If you do not qualify for RCL and this change would result in part-time enrollment, then you may not drop a course with a W or NP. To protect your immigration status, it is important to stay fully enrolled, even if you will not pass a course.

Will it affect my F-1 status if I don’t pass the class?

A student is maintaining F-1 status if they are enrolled full-time and are making normal progress towards a degree/program. A low GPA typically does not affect immigration status, unless it prevents you from future enrollment at the university.

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

Generally, a D or F grade or a low GPA does not impact your immigration status. However, if your academic standing prevents you from enrolling in future quarters, or if you are barred or suspended, it does impact your status. Meet with an international student advisor and your college/graduate advisor immediately to discuss your options.

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Last modified: Mar 11, 2024