W Grades FAQ

You may be tempted to withdraw from a course and petition for a “W” or “NP” grade. Be aware that the “W” or “NP” grade does not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement (unless you choose NP as the grading option at the time of enrollment). F-1 and J-1 students must be enrolled in the minimum units to maintain status.

What is the “W” or NP grade?

Students file for a W or NP grade with their College and/or the Registrar’s office 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 a W or NP grade affect my immigration status?

If your total credits drop you below full-time enrollment, and you have not received authorization for Reduced Course Load from an ISSS advisor, you will be out of immigration status. Your F-1 or J-1 status would be at risk of termination and you would be expected to depart the US to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

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

  1. Meet with an ISSS advisor to see if you qualify for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)
  2. Meet with your College or Graduate advisor. 

Keep the following in mind:

  • You can petition for a W or NP grade for 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).
  • If you can choose P/NP as a grading option at the time of enrollment, this will still count toward your full-time student status. If you choose NP after enrollment, then these units will not count.
  • You can withdraw from a class if you have received written authorization from ISSS for a Reduced Course Load (RCL).
  • You cannot withdraw from a class if you will be below full-time and don’t qualify for the RCL.

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 ISSS approval, yes. If you do not qualify and it will drop you below full-time to withdraw, no. For your immigration status, it is better to stay enrolled, even if you will not pass.

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

A student is maintaining 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 ISSS advisor and your College/Graduate advisor immediately to discuss your options.

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Last modified: Nov 20, 2023