Returning to UW-Madison

Steps to take when returning after a period of non-enrollment

1. Determine whether you need to apply for re-admission:
  • If you are eligible to enroll in courses for the semester of your return, no re-admission is necessary.
  • If you are not eligible to enroll in courses for the semester of your return, you will need to apply for re-admission:
    • Undergraduate students should contact the Admissions Office. More information can be found on their website.
    • Graduate students should contact the Graduate School. More information can be found on the bottom of the admissions requirements page.
      • Graduate students should also be in contact with their department before leaving and before returning.
  • Students who are studying abroad through a UW-Madison program and dissertators who are conducting research abroad while maintaining full-time enrollment are not required to complete this form.
2. Request a new I-20:
  • If re-admission is required, the appropriate admissions office will send you a new “Initial Attendance” I-20 after you have been re-admitted. Your admitting unit will guide you through the process.
  • If re-admission is not required, request a new I-20 through our "Return from Leave of Absence" form in the ISS section of the Incoming Students page. ISS will either request that SEVP reactivate your terminated SEVIS record or create a new “Initial Attendance” I-20 for you to return.
    • Your SEVIS record may be eligible to be reactivated if all of the following are true:
      • You are returning less than 5 months from the last day you attended classes.
      • You continued to attend your classes up until the date you submitted your withdrawal/leave of absence requests.
      • You departed the U.S. within 15 days of ISS terminating your SEVIS record.
    • ISS will need to create a new “Initial attendance” I-20 for you if one of the following is true:
      • You are returning more than 5 months from the last day you attended classes.
      • You stopped attending classes prior to submitting your withdrawal/leave of absence requests.
      • ISS submitted a reactivation request to SEVP and it was denied.
      • You departed the U.S. more than 15 days after ISS terminated your SEVIS record.
  • ISS is able to request that SEVP reactivate your record at the earliest 60 days before the start of the semester of your return.
  • As a reminder, when using an “Initial attendance” I-20, you may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the “start date” listed on the I-20 in item #5.
    • You will also be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again. More information can be found on this website.
3. Review your visa and passport:
  • If you have been out of the U.S. for more than five months, you are eligible to apply for a new visa, although if the visa is still valid, it may be used for re-entry. Your visa must be valid on the day you re-enter the U.S. and upon any subsequent re-entries. However, your visa stamp can expire while you are in the U.S.
  • Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future at the time you enter the U.S. and it must remain valid at all times while you are studying in the U.S. The passport cannot expire while you are here.
4. After arriving back on campus:
  • As soon as you return to campus, you will need to complete immigration check with ISS by providing copies of your new I-20 as well as your passport, visa stamp, and I-94. This information is needed to register your arrival in SEVIS, as required by visa regulations.
  • You must be enrolled full time for the semester of your return, even if you return for a summer term. More details about full-time enrollment can be found on the ISS website.
  • Depending on the length of your absence, ISS may require that you attend an orientation session.
  • If you re-entered the U.S. on a new “Initial Attendance” I-20, you have begun a new F-1 visa life and all eligibility requirements for CPT and OPT must be met before you can be authorized for work permission. You must be in valid F-1 status for 1 academic year to be eligible for off-campus work permission.
  • If your SEVIS record was reactivated, then your eligibility requirements for CPT and OPT will not be reset.