Chat with us, powered by LiveChat LiveChat

Absence/departure policy

Your immigration status is directly associated with and affected by your full-time enrollment in an academic program. If you intend to, or are thinking about, taking a leave or withdrawing from USU  please discuss with OIEPS as soon as possible.

International students must submit a leave of absence request to the Office of International Education and Professional Studies (OIEPS). Visa students must be registered as full-time students  except, when after two consecutive semesters of regular enrollment; they decide to take a semester off. All leave of absence periods must be approved prior to taking the leave in order to report the  students properly to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). As a general rule, visa students must go back to their home country when applying for a leave of absence, as their primary goal in the U.S. is to obtain an academic degree. Requests for a Leave of Absence due to medical reasons must be accompanied by a letter from a physician (licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist) that  clearly indicates that you are not able to be enrolled in classes in the current semester.

  • While you are on medical leave, you can remain in the United States in F-1 status.
    • Medical leave authorization must be renewed each semester. After an aggregate of 12 months of medical leave, your I-20 will be terminated and you should depart from the  U.S. If you wish to resume your studies, you will need to apply for a new I-20, leave and re-enter the U.S.
  • Students must bring a copy of the Exit Form to OIEPS after it has been signed by the Academic Department.
    • Students have 15 days from the date OIEPS receives and date-stamps the Exit Form to depart from the United States. Make sure you do not overstay!
    • Make sure you have a Travel Signature that is not more than 9 months old when you plan  to return to the United States. If necessary, you can send your I-20 to ISSS via courier service at least one month before your planned arrival to the United States.


Depending on the circumstances:

  • Your SEVIS record may be terminated
  • You may have limited time for departing from the US (0-15 days)
  • You may be excluded from or restricted in future F-1 student employment benefits
  • AND You may need to obtain new immigration documents for re-entry in the future.

If you plan to return to the US to study at USU, please make sure to read the Return from Absence section below.


Time Periods for Departure

  • Your ability to remain in the US is dictated by your immigration status and reason for departure. Depending on the circumstances, the period for departure can be from 0-15 days  and commences the day following the date of withdrawal or absence from USU. You may  not work during this period.
    • F-1 students submit a notification to OIEPS prior to an absence or withdrawal from USU are permitted 15 days to prepare for departure and leave the United  States.
    • F-1 students who do not inform OIEPS prior to taking a leave must leave the US immediately.
    • F-1 students who are academically dropped or otherwise suspended must leave the US immediately.
    • How to Return from an Absence
    • Below are the procedures for F students to return to the US to resume study at USU after an absence.
    • Outside the US for less than 5 months with permission from OIEPS

This is the return procedure if you: have been outside the US for less than 5 months for personal or medical reasons and have obtained permission in writing from OIEPS.


If this is you, upon returning to the U.S., you must provide OIEPS with:

  •  copies of passport with entry and departure stamps
  •  either a valid I-94 printout, US entry/admission stamp or I-94 card
  •  and airline tickets to prove that:
    • you left the U.S. before the course selection end date
    • and the time spent outside the U.S. was less than five months

NOTE: you must resume full-time study immediately upon returning to the U.S.


Absences That Require a New I-20

  •  If you fall into one of the following categories:
  •  Have been outside the U.S. for less than five months, but left the US after the course selection end date;
  •  Have been outside the U.S. for more than five months; or
  •  Have been suspended

A new I-20 & US Entry Visa is required for re-entry to the US.

At least 3-4 months before your intended return, contact your academic department or the student advocate and ask them to update your records in the USU Student Records System (SRS) to verify:

  •  your return term/date (e.g., Fall semester 2015); and
  •  your expected completion term/date (e.g., Spring 2016)
  •  OIEPS will use the expected completion date in the SRS to determine the end date
  •  If you had been suspended, make sure that any holds on your SRS record have
  •  Make sure you have no outstanding USU bills and your Student Financial Services
  •  on your new I-20. Be sure to clarify the proper date with your department/school and make sure any necessary updates are made.
  • been lifted by the appropriate office.
  • (SFS) record has no holds.


After confirming that your SFS and SRS records are clear, and that the aforementioned updates have been made in SRS:

  • Contact OIEPS for the application for a new I-20
    • You will need to submit an application for a new I-20, as you did when you first came to USU.
    • Moreover, OIEPS will need new financial documents certifying funds for your studies
    • Please allow at least 2 weeks processing time for a new I-20 number.
  •  You must pay the SEVIS fee based on your new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID
  •  Instructions will be sent with your new I-20.
  •  Apply for a new US Entry Visa:
    •  Return to the US
    •  You may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the new I-20.
    •  If you encounter any delays in arriving by the start date indicated on the new I-20, contact OIEPS prior to the new program start date.
  • You MUST report to OIEPS and upon re-entry with your immigration documents


F-1 STUDENTS ONLY: Since there has been a break in your F-1 immigration status, after returning from LOA, you will need to complete an academic year of full-time study prior to becoming eligible for certain F-1 benefits, such as off-campus employment  authorization (CPT, OPT, etc.) For more information, please contact OIEPS.

  • Reminders for all returning students
    • Visit the U.S. State Department
    • Sometimes bills and other important documents don’t reach you. Check with all appropriate units at USU, including:
    •  your academic advising unit
    •  Student Financial Services
    •  and/or student conduct
    •  Unsettled matters may impede you from registering for classes.

 If you are already in the US in another status and plan to apply for a change of status, please meet with an OIEPS advisor as soon as possible. 

For more information, please contact OIEPS.