UW Scavenger Hunt: Letter for Visa Edition – UW Graduate School Skip to content

UW Scavenger Hunt: Letter for Visa Edition

This post has been adapted from the Grad School Guide’s recent exchange with a student.

Dear Grad School Guide,

I am an international student who earned my graduate degree last fall. I attended the UW on a fellowship with a J1 visa, so after graduation I returned to my home country. Now, I would like to come back to the UW for commencement this spring. To be able to attend the commencement, I need to apply for a visitor visa. Because strict visa regulations apply to my home country, I need a letter from the UW stating that I was a student last year and that I’m invited to this year’s commencement.

I have tried contacting International Student Services, but they are not able to provide me with this letter. The Office of Ceremonies usually sends out personalized invites in May, but by then it will be too late for me to apply for a visitor visa.

Any advice? I really want to attend commencement.

Stuck on a UW Scavenger Hunt


Dear Stuck,

I’m sorry that this has been so difficult. I know it can be really frustrating to be sent to many different offices — it feels like a scavenger hunt, and not in a good way!

I am glad that you’ve reached out to the Grad School Guide, as we can help you as you navigate the many offices and resources of the UW.

Since what you need is a personalized letter confirming your graduation and eligibility to attend commencement, I recommend reaching out to the advisor or program coordinator for your department. Maybe you already know someone you were in touch with while you were a student here — they would be a good person to contact. Or, you can most often find the contact for your departmental advisor on your department’s website.

Please keep me posted on the outcome.

Your Grad School Guide


Hi Guide,

It worked! I was able to obtain a letter from my departmental advisor.



Dear Un-Stuck,

So glad to hear it! I’m sure your departmental advisor would be helpful for other questions of this nature, as well.

Please feel free to reach out again with any questions about the UW, or if you find yourself in another scavenger hunt!

Enjoy commencement!

Your Guide


Ask Your Grad School Guide is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If your Guide doesn’t know the answer, you Guide seeks out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: your Guide is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Ask your Guide a question >