During the course of academic study, students are encouraged to travel home to maintain their ties to family and to their country. However, students must be aware that prolonged absences from the U.S. could affect the status of their immigration records.

Current regulations require schools to end the validity of I-20s for students who are outside the U.S. for five months or longer. Exceptions are made for students who actively participate in a study abroad program or graduate students who must leave the U.S. to collect data for their thesis or dissertation.

There are many reasons why a student may have to interrupt his/her studies for a prolonged period of time - illness, delays in getting a visa, funding problems, etc. Whatever the reason, students should work with both their academic department and with International Student and Scholar Services to plan their return to Catholic University as the university has specific procedures for returning students to follow to activate their academic record. Additionally, a new I-20 will be required.

Obtaining a New I-20

To obtain a new I-20, the student must:

  • complete a request for New I-20 After Absence of 5 Months
  • document his/her ability to cover the costs of continuing his/her studies at CUA
  • provide a copy of his/her current passport
  • obtain the endorsement of his/her academic advisor and dean on the request form

Once ISSS receives the completed request form and the supporting documents listed above, a new I-20 can be issued and sent to the student who will have to pay a new SEVIS fee.

Re-entering the U.S.

When the student returns to Catholic University, he/she must remember to stop by ISSS so that his/her SEVIS record can be activated and the immigration status can be finalized.