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Return After Absence

Students who have had a break in full-time enrollment (due to a withdrawal, leave of absence, part-time enrollment from abroad, etc.) require a new I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S. and NC State University. If you would like to return to NC State after such a break, please start the process outlined below at least two months prior to your semester of intended return.


  • If you were approved by your Department for a Leave of Absence, and are returning to NC State for the return term you indicated on your Leave of Absence form, no academic procedures are required for you to return to NCSU. Please proceed to the I-20/DS-2019 Request.
  • If you withdrew from your Department, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for your program to receive instructions.  Once your return is approved academically, please proceed to the I-20/DS-2019 Request.


  • If you were not enrolled for an entire semester (or longer), you will need to apply for readmission to resume your studies at NCSU. Please follow the readmission instructions on Student Services’ website. Once you have been notified of your readmission, you may proceed to the I-20/DS-2019 Request.

Once you have received approval to resume your studies at NC State (if applicable), you may request a new I-20 or DS-2019 from OIS. Please prepare the following documents for the request:

When you are ready to submit your request, please visit Global Home to upload your materials. The new I-20 or DS-2019 will be ready in 10 business days from when you submit these materials assuming your materials are complete.


F-1 students may be eligible to have their original SEVIS record (I-20) reactivated instead of needing a new SEVIS record. SEVIS reactivation allows you to retain your original SEVIS ID number, SEVIS fee payment, and practical training eligibility; it indicates continuous F-1 status despite your temporary leave. Reactivation decisions are made by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and are not guaranteed. The I-20 request procedure outlined above is the same whether you are eligible for SEVIS reactivation or need a new SEVIS record – your OIS advisor will contact you with more details if SEVIS reactivation is a possibility. Generally, F-1 students must meet the following criteria for SEVIS reactivation:

  • Less than 5 months will have passed between when you withdrew and when your semester of return begins
  • SEVIS record was closed due to ‘Authorized Early Withdrawal’
  • Departed the U.S. within 15 days of the SEVIS record closure
  • Plan to pursue the same course of study upon return to NC State
  • Request is within 60 days of the new semester start date
  • You can provide SEVP with confirmation of full-time enrollment for your semester of return and a plane ticket if requested

F-1 and J-1 Students: NEW SEVIS RECORD

If you do not qualify for F-1 SEVIS Reactivation or you do not want to wait for the SEVIS Reactivation filing window, then you must begin a new F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record. Please follow the instructions above to request your new I-20 or DS-2019. Beginning a new F or J program also entails the following:

  • SEVIS Fee. A new SEVIS fee is required after the new I-20 or DS-2019 has been created. The SEVIS fee must be paid before applying for a new visa (if applicable) or traveling to the U.S. The SEVIS fee can be paid online at (or by Western Union, instructions for which are on the same website). 
  • OIS Check-in: Once you are back in Raleigh, you will need to attend an OIS Check-in. Completing your OIS Check-in will allow us to activate your new F-1 or J-1 status and will meet your immigration requirement of ‘reporting’ to your school. 
  • F-1 Student Practical Training Eligibility: F-1 students, please note that with a new F program, your eligibility ‘clock’ for Practical Training (OPT or CPT) begins again; you will have to spend one academic year (two semesters) in F-1 status prior to being eligible for OPT or CPT.


Whether your SEVIS record is reactivated or you are returning with a new SEVIS record, please check the expiration date on your most recent F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport.  If your visa has not expired, it may be used together with the new I-20 or DS-2019 for your trip back to the U.S.  If your previous F or J visa has expired, you must apply for a new visa unless you are from Canada.  For more information about applying for a new visa, please visit the website of the U.S. embassy closest to you.

Receiving your documents

Regulations now allow I-20 and DS-2019 documents to be signed and transmitted digitally. When your new document is ready, it will be emailed directly to your NC State email account.

  • Review the document carefully
  • Print the document and sign at the bottom of page 1
  • Present the document at your visa interview (if you need a visa) and again at US Customs and Border Protection when you arrive in the US.