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Definition:  Withdrawing from all courses you are taking during the current semester OR completing the current semester but deciding not to return to classes for the next academic semester

How do I withdraw from my classes in the middle of the semester?

Each semester has a withdrawal deadline that is just prior to the final four weeks of classes.  Students may sometimes withdraw after this time, but must obtain special permission per regulations in their academic college.  Student must obtain the appropriate signatures to withdraw their entire registration.  The signatures will vary by college and by the student’s individual circumstances.

What is the general process to withdraw my entire registration?

  1. Obtain Student Withdrawal Card from the Registrar Service Center (17 Calvin Hall)
  2. Obtain all necessary signatures, including a signature from International Student and Scholar Services
  3. Submit Student Withdrawal Card to the Registrar Service Center (17 Calvin Hall)

What happens to my academic record after I withdraw from my classes?

Your academic record will indicate that you withdrew for a given semester.  You will not receive grades or academic credit for the courses you had been enrolled in prior to withdrawing your registration for that given semester. 

Are there any ramifications to my F-1 record if I choose to withdraw my registration during the current semester?

You must notify an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services of your intent to withdraw.

This can be done when you bring the Student Withdrawal Card to ISSS for a signature; but we recommend meeting an advisor before you make the decision to withdraw your registration.  As soon as you submit your withdrawal request to the Office of the Registrar, you must be prepared to depart the U.S.  Provided that you notified ISSS of your intent to withdraw, you will have up to 15 days to depart the U.S.  If you did not notify ISSS and withdrew from your classes without ISSS approval then you have no grace period and must immediately depart the U.S.

I did complete the semester, but now I’ve decided I want to take some time off.  When do I need to depart the U.S.? 

If you are still here in Iowa City, please come in to our office to discuss your plans before departure.  The issue of departure is a gray regulatory area; ISSS recommends that you depart the U.S. no later than the start of classes for the next semester.  You must notify ISSS of your exact departure date.  If you have already left the U.S. prior to discussing your situation, please e-mail us as soon as possible at isss@uiowa.edu.  If you fail to notify our office of your plans in a timely manner, your record will auto-terminate for failure to enroll. 

Are there any ramifications to my F-1 record if I decide to take some time off?

Yes.  You may not remain in the U.S. in F-1 status if you do not intend to register during the next academic term.  (Exception: Continuing F-1 students are not required to enroll during the summer registration period).  If you decide to take some time off, please discuss your plans with the ISSS.  Depending on how long you intend to be gone, different actions will need to be taken with your SEVIS record.  If ISSS is not notified, advisors will not be able to take the appropriate actions with your SEVIS record.

How can I return after my absence?

The length of time you are gone affects how you may return to the University of Iowa when you are ready.  Please identify how long you plan to be gone and review the information listed below.  Please note that what you may need to do depends on if you are gone less or more than 5 months.  These 5 months begin accruing either the date we sign your withdrawal form if you are leaving in the middle of a semester or after your last date of enrollment if you leave between academic semesters.

Retroactive Withdrawal

Retroactive Withdrawal means withdrawing from a semester that has already completed.  As of May 2014, the Department of Homeland Security informed ISSS that retroactive withdrawal is not permissible under any circumstances.  This means that an international student can no longer receive permission to have registration for a previous semester removed.  Any withdrawal request must be approved by ISSS and occur BEFORE the end of the existing semester to be withdrawn.

Study Abroad or Research Abroad

If you will be absent from the U.S. for an extended period of time, but will be registered in an official study abroad program OR you will be maintaining your registration at the University of Iowa while doing research/working on your dissertation, your SEVIS record will not be terminated, provided you continue to maintain status and agree to meet certain requirements.

  • For students conducting research abroad, you must maintain full-time enrollment or be authorized for part-time enrollment by ISSS each semester you are absent (12 s.h. for undergraduates and 9 s.h. for graduate students).  If you pursue part-time enrollment, you must turn in the appropriate part-time authorization form located on the ISSS website no later than the second week of the semester
  • For students studying abroad, please ask for a verification form rom your Study Abroad advisor.
  • You are encouraged to e-mail isss@uiowa.edu at least one month prior to returning to confirm your SEVIS record is active and you will be able to return successfully.

Withdrawing and Returning to the University of Iowa - Absent Less Than 5 Months

If you will be absent from the U.S. for less than 5 months and not enrolled in classes at the University of Iowa, your SEVIS record will not be terminated, provided you agree to meet certain requirements.  Please login to your iHawk account (click the blue login button) using your HawkID and password.  Go to "F-1 Student Services" and complete the Withdrawal Request-- Less than 5 Months e-form request to have your withdrawal approved. 

To reenter the U.S. after your 5 months or less absence, you must have a passport valid for at least six months upon reentry, and a valid F-1 visa. You will also need your current I-20 with a valid travel signature.  Travel signatures are valid for entry into the U.S. for one year, provided your document has not expired, and your major, degree level, and/or source of funding has not changed.

Withdrawing and Returning to the University of Iowa - Absent More Than 5 Months

If you will be absent from the U.S. between 5+ months and will not maintain registration at the University of Iowa to keep working on your degree program (such as through an official UI study abroad program or registering for PhD Continuous Registration while working on your dissertation), ISSS is required to terminate your SEVIS record.  This does not carry negative connotations and should not affect your ability to return to your studies when you are ready.  Please login to your iHawk account (click the blue login button) using your HawkID and password. Go to "F-1 Student Services" and complete the Withdrawal Request-- More than 5 Months e-form request to have your withdrawal approved.

To reenter the U.S. after a 5-12 month absence, you must contact ISSS, ideally at three to five months before your plan to return, in order to obtain a new, initial I-20.  Follow the procedures to request this I-20 and submit the I-20 Request Form.

If you will be absent from the U.S. more than 12 months and will not maintain registration, you will need to complete a short form to be officially readmitted to the University of Iowa.  Contact the Office of Admissions and click on the information for “Returning Students” for instructions.  International Admissions will issue your new I-20. 

Because of the length of your absence, you will be issued a new, initial I-20 with a new SEVIS identification number.  This means:

  1. You will be required to pay the SEVIS fee before you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S.  Please refer to our instructions on paying the SEVIS fee.
  2. You will be required to obtain a new F-1 visa even if your old visa still appears to be valid.
  3. You can only re-enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the report date on the new I-20.
  4. You will need to contact ISSS as soon as you return to the U.S.  If you do not check in, your SEVIS record will be automatically terminated by the system after 30 days and you lose your legal ability to be in the U.S.
  5. Once you have returned to the U.S., you will not be eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training until you have been registered full-time for one full academic year(summer session excluded).