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RETURNING TO THE U.S. FROM A LEAVE OF ABSENCE (LOA) OF MORE THAN 5 MONTHS OR TERMINATIONS DUE TO STATUS VIOLATIONS

 

International students returning from an authorized leave of absence or returning after a termination due to academic disqualification or suspension must have a valid I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) to re-enter the United States (U.S.) to resume their studies at UC San Diego.

Review all steps below to understand how this process works and how it may affect your visa status.

 

STEP 1: DETERMINE IF YOUR LEAVE IS MORE THAN 5 MONTHS

You will need a new initial I-20, if your reported leave from the U.S. is more than 5 months:

  • The 5 months are calculated from the date you depart the U.S. to the date that you return to the U.S.*
    • *However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the current temporary SEVP guidance allows students to maintain their F-1 visa status while studying remotely outside the U.S., as long as they enroll in a full course load (or have an approved RCL authorization) and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
    • While this guidance is in place, the 5 months are calculated from the start of your leave term** to the date that you return to the U.S.
    • **Your leave term is the academic quarter which you are not enrolled in at UC San Diego, you are not inside the U.S., and for which you have reported or will report your leave from the U.S. to ISPO through iPortal.
  • If you are taking a leave from the Fall quarter, the 5 months are calculated from the Fall quarter start date to the date of your re-entry to the U.S.
  • If your leave is shorter than 5 months, then your SEVIS record may be eligible for reactivation. For more information, see our Reactivation page.

 


If you have been academically disqualified or suspended, or if your SEVIS record and I-20/DS-2019 has been terminated due to other status violations, you are required to request a new initial I-20/DS-2019 regardless of how long your leave has been.

STEP 2: DETERMINE IF YOU NEED READMISSION TO UC SAN DIEGO

Depending on the length of your absence, your academic level, or termination/completion reason, you may be required to apply for readmission to UC San Diego. Before moving on to the next step, you must review the following link to check whether this requirement applies to you:

STEP 3: SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST FOR A NEW I-20/DS-2019

COVID-19 Note:

  • Per the current SEVP Guidance, you will need to return to the U.S. to have your new initial I-20/DS-2019 registered as Active in SEVIS.

  • Also, you will need to enroll in at least 1 hybrid or in-person class to be eligible to seek entry to the U.S.

  • If you do not plan to enter the U.S. for your return quarter, and prefer to resume your studies at UC San Diego remotely from outside the U.S., you can do so without an Active F-1/J-1 visa status. You will then request a new initial I-20/DS-2019 whenever you are ready to return to the U.S.

 


Request a new initial I-20 or DS-2019, preferrably at least 3 months prior to the start of your return quarter at UC San Diego:

  • Log in to iportal.ucsd.edu .
  • Go to "Services" tab.
  • Select "Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request With New SEVIS ID".
  • Fill out your request.
  • Upload a PDF copy of your passport bio page.
  • If you require readmission (see the drawer above,) then upload a PDF copy of proof of your eligibility to return to UC San Diego:
    • UC San Diego readmission notification, OR
    • Email from academic department, OR
    • WebReg page showing full-time units.
  • Upload a PDF copy of your bank statement(s) or financial support letter(s) to show funding for one academic year (9 months) if you are an F-1 students or for the entire duration of your studies, if you are a J-1 student.
  • "Submit" your request.

STEP 4: RECEIVE YOUR I-20/DS-2019 WITH A NEW SEVIS ID

  • Your new initial I-20/DS-2019 showing your new start date at UC San Diego will be issued within  10 business days.
  • You can check the status of your request anytime by logging in to  iPortal  and clicking on " My Requests" tab.
  • A notification email will be sent to you when your document is ready.
  • Sign your new I-20/DS-2019 when you receive it, and keep your previous I-20/DS-2019 for your records, do  NOT throw it away.

What does it mean to receive a New Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a NEW SEVIS ID Number? 

When UC San Diego issues you a Form I-20 or DS-2019, we are able to create a new SEVIS Record associated with a unique SEVIS ID Number or transfer in a SEVIS Record with an existing SEVIS ID Number from your previous institution. All SEVIS ID numbers start with the letter N. On the Form I-20, the number is on the top right hand side of the first page under the words Student's Copy and above the barcode. On the DS-2019, the number is on the top right hand side of the page in the box above the barcode.

When you receive an I-20 from UC San Diego with a NEW SEVIS ID Number, the following applies: 

  • I-901 Fee: You will need to pay a new I-901 fee to activate the new I-20. 
  • You may require a new/updated visa: If you have a valid F-1 visa or J-1 Visa, your new Form I-20 or DS-2019 will not match the SEVIS ID on your valid visa. You will need to check with the embassy or consulate about whether you can use this visa for travel or not or if you need to obtain an updated one. Students are generally able to use a valid visa to enter the U.S. even if the SEVIS ID or school name does not match the Form I-20. However, it’s best to check with the embassy or consulate that issued you your visa.
  • Employment Eligibility: International students must enroll for a minimum of 3 quarters on the SAME SEVIS ID Number upon arrival to the U.S. in order to be eligible for off-campus employment authorization (for F-1 CPT or OPT).  Since you will be issued a new SEVIS ID number, the “eligibility clock” restarts. Students who have less than 3 quarters to complete their program of study may be ineligible for CPT or OPT.
  • Travel: Students who receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 may not see entry to the U.S. to begin or resume studies until 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20 or DS-2019.

STEP 5: PAY THE I-901 SEVIS FEE

  • Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee upon receipt of your new I-20 or DS-2019. You will need your new SEVIS number to pay the SEVIS fee online.
  • Apply for a new F-1/J-1 visa if your current visa is expired.
  • If you have an unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa, contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to confirm if you need to apply for a new U.S. Visa. If your visa is not valid, you will need to apply for a new visa.

STEP 6: REVIEW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

  • You may enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status only up to 30 days before start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Additional Requirement for entry during the COVID-19 pandemic: Per the current SEVP Guidance, you will need to enroll in at least 1 hybrid or in-person class to be eligible to seek entry to the U.S. 
  • Review your travel documents: Make sure that you have the required travel documents for your travel and re-entry to the U.S.
  • J-1 students must be enrolled for one full quarter after your return to be eligible for J-1 Academic Training.
  • Review how to maintain your F-1/J-1 status. You are responsible for maintaining your status for the duration of your stay in the U.S.

STEP 7: CHECK-IN TO ACTIVATE YOUR SEVIS RECORD UPON ARRIVAL

Students who hold an Initial SEVIS record to submit the Check in for I-20/DS-2019 Activation once they physically arrive to the U.S. to ensure we collect required information to activate their SEVIS record. In addition, it's important to perform a document self-check to ensure your immigration documents were processed properly at the port of entry. 

  1. Submit the Check-In for I-20/DS-2019 Activation
  2. Review the Instructions for the Document Self-Check 

Failure to submit the Check-In for I-20/DS-2019 Activation can lead to issues with your immigration status. Contact an ISPO Advisor if you have questions regarding submitting this form upon arrival. 

INFORMATION FOR SUMMER SESSION RETURN

If you are returning for Summer Session and your I-20 or DS-2019 has been issued with a Summer Session start date, you must be enrolled full-time for the entire Summer Session (unless Summer Session is your final term). Full-time enrollment requirements for the Summer term is defined as: 

    • Summer 1 Program Start Date
      • Summer Session 1 (6 units minimum) and Summer Session 2 (6 units minimum) OR
      • Summer Session 3 (6 units minimum)

    • Summer 2 Program Start Date
      • Summer Session 2 (6 units minimum) OR
      • Summer Session 3 (6 units minimum) 
To learn more about exceptions to full-time enrollment requirements (taking less than 12 units), visit ISPO's reduced course load (RCL) authorization page, or please talk to an international student advisor prior to dropping below full-time.