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International Student and Scholar Support

Taking a Leave of Absence

Will you be leaving the United States for one semester or more while you are a USC student?

If so, ISS needs to know. Whether you are doing dissertation research in another country, studying abroad, or taking a semester off from school, you need to update ISS so we can take care of your immigration record. In order to update us, please complete the SEVIS Update Form, located in the Forms Library.

  • If you will not enroll in classes during your absence of 5 months or more, your SEVIS record will be terminated. We will create a new SEVIS record and immigration document for your reentry. You must depart the U.S. during this time. You cannot remain in the U.S. if you are not enrolled in classes and/or are approved for valid work authorization. Off-campus work authorization in the U.S. is also not allowed during a leave of absence.
  • If you are studying abroad during your absence of 5 months or more, you will be enrolled full-time in a study abroad course. This course will allow you to maintain your status during your absence. Your SEVIS record will remain active. 2 months before reentry, mail your I-20 to ISS. An advisor will sign your I-20 for travel and mail it back to you.
  • If you are leaving the U.S. to do dissertation research, you must be ABD (All But Dissertation), have a full-time exemption, and stay enrolled in Dissertation Prep hours while outside of the U.S. This will allow ISS to keep your SEVIS record open. 2 months before reentry, mail your I-20 or DS-2019 to ISS. An advisor will provide a travel signature and mail it back to you.

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