Absence from the United States

If a student plans to withdraw from class and leave the U.S. for an extended length of time, they must contact a Designated School Official (DSO) in the Office of International Engagement before making travel arrangements, withdrawing, registering or not registering for classes. Depending on the amount of time the student will be gone, the procedure for exiting and reentering the country will vary.

**During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a student may request a Leave of Absence after they have left the U.S.

Leave of Absence Less than 5 Months

  1. Once you have decided to leave the U.S., make an appointment with a DSO to request a Leave of Absence.  If you are leaving on an emergency basis, you may submit a request by email.   **During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a student may request a Leave of Absence after they have left the U.S.
  2. Withdraw from your classes through the Office of the Registrar. Be sure to cancel any meal plan and housing assignment through Housing and Residence Life. You may be subject to a lease buy-out fee and you may still be charged for your meal plan.  NOTE: If you are enrolled in online classes and would like to continue these you may be able to do. Contact your professor to discuss your departure.
  3. The DSO will enter a Leave of Absence request in your SEVIS record.  At that time, your I-20 will be temporarily terminated.  You have 15 days to leave the country once your I-20 has been terminated.

To reactivate your SEVIS record and I-20:

  1. Purchase your plane ticket to return to the U.S. Your arrival should be no sooner than 30 days before the start of the new session.
  2. Send a copy of your flight itinerary to a DSO. The DSO will request that staff at the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reactive your SEVIS record and I-20. Only SEVP staff may approve the request to reactivate your SEVIS record and I-20. The DSO will notify you when SEVP has approved the request.
  3. Return to the U.S. using your current I-20 and your current visa.  If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new visa.
  4. If your plans change and you stay out of the U.S. for more than 5 months, your SEVIS record and I-20 cannot be reactivated.

Leave of Absence More than 5 Months*

In some circumstances, you may plan to be outside the U.S. for more than 5 months or your plans change which cause you to stay out of the U.S. for more than 5 months.  Once you have been out of the United States for more than 5 months, for any reason, you are required to receive a new I-20 and pay a new SEVIS fee.

  1. When you decide to resume in person classes at UCA, you should submit a readmission application. You will be contacted by an International Admission Counselor. Please follow all the instructions provided by the International Admission Counselor.
  2. The International Admission Counselor will create a new SEVIS record and I-20 which will have a new SEVIS number.
  3. You will be required to pay the SEVIS fee again. If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new visa. Please allow enough time for the visa application process.
  4. When you return to the U.S., you will be considered “in-status” and must enroll for the next available session.

Note: F-1 students are required to complete 9 months in status before becoming eligible to apply for, CPT, OPT, or Economic Hardship Work Authorization. The nine month period will begin at the time of re-entry.