Additional FAQ for Incoming and Continuing International Academic Student Employees (ASEs) and Postdocs

  1. Do International ASEs and Postdocs need a SSN in order to be paid?

No law prohibits you from being paid without an SSN (Social Security Number). You are encouraged to obtain an SSN as soon as possible. Most international students and scholars in nonimmigrant status are eligible to be employed in the United States, and are therefore eligible to apply for an SSN if they are actually employed in the United States.

  1. Can International ASEs and Postdocs be paid without a US bank account?


  1. Does U.S. law prohibit international students (regardless of visa status) from working from abroad? 

There are no U.S. immigration laws that would prohibit the university from employing anyone who is not physically in the U.S.  The U.S. laws about employment authorization apply only when someone is inside the U.S.  However, there may be laws in the employees’ respective home countries that prohibit or restrict such employment.  Please check with a licensed attorney for advice about each country on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Can the University allow for late “check-ins” given that ASEs are arriving at delayed timelines due to COVID related international travel restrictions?

ICE guidance states that “You have 30 days to enter the country before your official program start date, as listed on your Form I-20. If you do not report to your school by your program start date, your DSO may terminate your SEVIS record. We suggest that you contact your school immediately once you enter the country so that there is no question of your arrival. If you cannot enter the United States for the term listed on your Form I-20, contact your school officials as soon as possible so that they can update your record so your plans are accurately reflected in SEVIS (emphasis added).”  We advise that you stay in regular contact with your home department about your travel plans.  Contact us at if you’re receiving unclear or incorrect information so that we can help you advocate.

  1. How do tuition waivers work for international ASEs?

The terms of our collective bargaining agreement apply equally to citizen and non-citizen ASEs, including eligibility for a tuition waiver (see this article for details).  Contact us at if you’re receiving unclear or incorrect information so that we can help you advocate.

  1. Is it possible to enroll in courses in Autumn 2020 quarter without an F1 visa?

If you have previously been physically present and studying in the U.S. prior to March 9, 2020, then your DSO can continue their SEVIS record and you can enroll in online classes in the same way as someone in the U.S.

If you are a new student who has never been issued an F-1 visa and has never entered the U.S., a DSO cannot issue an I-20 unless you can take a full course of study consisting of in-person classes.  The University could allow you to enroll in online classes from your home country but this would be done outside of the I-20/SEVIS system.

  1. Do International ASEs have to pay for health insurance if they’re not in the US?

No.  Under our collective bargaining agreement health insurance is guaranteed for any graduate employee – including international graduate students – who hold appointments with 50% or greater FTE (Full-Time Equivalent).  The Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) is a $0 premium health insurance our union has bargained for eligible ASEs, meaning you do not have to pay monthly for this health insurance program. International students who are not eligible for employer-paid insurance like GAIP may also apply to waive the requirement to pay a fee for the UW International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP).  This is done by submitting a waiver request through the How to Apply to Waive ISHIP section of the ISHIP Waiver page. Waiver requests are due by the third Friday of each quarter, but students may submit a waiver request at any time after registering for quarterly classes.