University of Iowa

Dropping Courses and Withdrawals

Table of Contents:

 

Dropping Individual Courses for F-1 and J-1 Students

Remember that any course drop(s) must be approved while the semester is still in session.  International students in F or J status cannot retroactively drop or withdraw courses once a semester has ended.

Permission from International Student and Scholar Services is required to process this change in registration for anyone on a student visa.  Students in F-1 and J-1 status should follow the steps below:

  1. Initiate the drop online in MyUI.
  2. Log in to https://ihawk.uiowa.edu using your HawkID and password.
  3. Go to the section titled “Other Student Services.”
  4. Read the instructions and submit the e-form titled “Course Drop Request.”  This alerts ISSS Advisor assigned with your UID that you are requesting a course drop in MyUI (without this request ISSS does not know you are requesting a drop).
  5. Note that it may take up to 48 hours (weekdays only) for ISSS to process your request.  Please do not email ISSS or come in person about your drop request unless four (4) days has passed.
  6. You will receive an email from ISSS to either let you know that we have approved your drop, or if additional information is needed.
  7. Remember that your academic advisor must also approve the drop, and most advisors prefer you to see them in person before they will approve.
  8. Once you have all necessary approvals, you then need to log back in to MyUI to finalize the drop.

Drop Deadline Dates.  ISSS will not review e-forms submitted after 4:00 p.m.  Drop deadlines are well-published by the Registrar Service Center and it is your responsibility to ensure the e-form is submitted before 4:00 p.m. including on any deadline date – requests submitted after this date will then require additional approval from the Dean’s office of your college and may be denied.  You will find deadline dates listed at http://registrar.uiowa.edu/academic-calendar.  When it is a course drop deadline day, ISSS will do our best to process drop requests on time, but it is up to you to submit requests in a timely manner.

  • If your drop request will put you below full-time (12 s.h. for undergrads or 9 s.h. for grad/professional students) you must also submit a part-time authorization e-form in iHawk and your academic advisor must enter comments in the e-form before we can approve this request.
  • If you wish to completely withdraw from semester/all courses, follow the process in the section below.
  • If your drop or withdrawal is due to a documented medical condition, please follow the medical part-time authorization instructions.
  • F-1 students: only one(1) online/distance course of up to 3 s.h. can count toward full-time enrollment requirements each semester – the remaining courses that meet 12 s.h./9 s.h. requirement must all be in-person classes.
    NOTE: J-1 students cannot count any online classes toward full-time enrollment.

 

Withdrawing for F-1 Students

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

J-1 students should follow the instructions found on the J-1 tab of this page.

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

Each semester has a withdrawal deadline prior to the final four weeks of classes.  These deadlines are published on the website of the Registrar Service Center.  Students may sometimes withdraw after this time, but must obtain special permission per regulations in their academic college. Late withdrawal should not be used by international students to escape anticipated poor grades.  We are also beginning to see cases where students who withdraw late are unable to obtain a new visa to return to studies in the next semester.  

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 receive approval from ISSS before withdrawing.  ISSS approval is given electronically in MyUI.  Provided that you first received approval from ISSS, 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.

*ISSS is also starting to see visa denials for students who withdrew late in a semester.  It is possible that consular offices are viewing these late withdrawals as attempts to escape poor grades and deny accordingly.  If you choose to withdraw later and have difficulty renewing your visa, there will be nothing ISSS or the UI can do to assist you.

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 ISSS office during walk in hours 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 in the withdrawal request online form.  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 be auto-terminated by SEVP for "Failure to enroll."

Will my F-1 record be affected if I decide to take some time off after this semester?

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.

 

Retroactive Withdrawal

Retroactive Withdrawal means withdrawing from a semester that has already completed.  This also covers drops of individuals courses.  As of May 2014, the U.S. 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.

 

    Non-Medical Withdrawal:  F-1 Withdrawing and Returning to the University of Iowa - Absent Less Than 5 Months

    This option is only for those who withdraw from a semester before the withdrawal deadline published by the Registrar Service Center, or who withdraw during a break before the semester begins.

    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 must be terminated.  You must then leave the U.S. within 15 days of your withdrawal.  When you are ready to return, you must contact ISSS so that we can contact SEVP to have your SEVIS record reactivated.  We can only contact them up to 60 days before the start of classes for the semester in which you plan to return to the University of Iowa.  This means that delays may be possible depending on how long it takes them to reactivate your record, and we cannot guarantee it will be done in time for you to return for the desired semester.  This is a risk you take by withdrawing.

    Deadlines to withdraw if you wish to return for the next semester:

    To ensure sufficient time to have your SEVIS record reactivated, you must withdraw by the withdrawal deadline published by the Registrar Service Center, otherwise you must instead follow the instructions below for "Absent More Than 5 Months" and wait until the following semester to return.  

    Please log in 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.

     

    Non-Medical Withdrawal:  F-1 Withdrawing and Returning to the University of Iowa - Absent More Than 5 Months

    This type of withdrawal is for:

    • Those who will withdraw and be absent more than 5 months before the next session of enrollment.
       

    • Those who request withdrawal after the semester's withdrawal deadline has passed.  This withdrawal option does carry risks, and you may not be able to obtain a new visa if you withdraw late in the semester.  Also note you will not be able to return until the following sessions:  

      • if you withdraw after the spring deadline in April, you can return no earlier than the next fall semester

      • if you withdraw after the fall deadline in November, you can return no earlier than the 8-week summer session starting in June, or for the fall session

    If you 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.  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 three(3) to five(5) 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 first 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.  

    When using this type of withdrawal, 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).
    6.  

    Medical Withdrawal

    The rules and process for medical withdrawal is different.  Follow the process outlined on the Medical Condition Part-Time Authorization or Withdrawal page.

    Table of Contents:

    Dropping Courses

    See the section under the F-1 Students tab on this page.

    Withdrawing

    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.  These deadlines are published on the website of the Office of the Registrar.  Students may sometimes withdraw after this time, but must obtain special permission per regulations in their academic college.  International students should note that late withdrawal should not be used to escape anticipated poor grades.  We are also beginning to see cases where students who withdraw late are unable to obtain a new visa to return to studies in the next semester.  

    If you are a student in J-1 status and you wish to withdraw, contact isss@uiowa.edu so that permission can be granted and your SEVIS record updated.  There is no special e-form for J-1 students.

    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 J-1 record if I choose to withdraw my registration during the current semester?

    You must receive approval from ISSS before withdrawing.  ISSS approval is given electronically in MyUI.  Provided that you first received approval from ISSS, your DS-2019 end date will be shortened and 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.

    ISSS is also starting to see visa denials for students who withdrew late in a semester.  It is possible that consular offices are viewing these late withdrawals as attempts to escape poor grades and deny accordingly.  If you choose to withdraw later and have difficulty renewing your visa, there will be nothing ISSS or the UI can do to assist you.

    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 J-1 record if I decide to take some time off?

    Yes.  You may not remain in the U.S. in J-1 status if you do not intend to register during the next academic term.  (Exception: Continuing J-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.

    Retroactive Withdrawal

    Retroactive Withdrawal means withdrawing from a semester that has already completed.  This also covers drops of individuals courses.  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 from 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.