University of Iowa

Academic Withdrawal, Dismissal, and Leaves of Absence

Academic Withdrawal

All F-1 and J-1 students are required to be enrolled during spring/fall semesters; summer registration is usually not required unless it is the first semester of enrollment or return after an absence.  If students choose to not enroll or to withdraw in the middle of a semester, the immigration status must end and the student must depart the U.S. within a fixed period of time.  All students who communicate their decision to withdraw while a semester is in session need to be referred to ISSS which must then approve the request to withdraw.  Students who choose to simply not return in-between semesters should also be referred to ISSS.

Deadlines are now in place for students who want to withdraw as well as which session they may return to attend.  These deadlines, along with the withdrawal instructions, may be found here.

There is a special type of withdrawal based on documentation of a medical condition, which carries a different set of rules.  That information may be reviewed here.  Note that in the past couple of years ISSS has seen an increase of students attempting to use this reason and submitting a forged medical letter, which are easily purchased online.  ISSS now checks the validity of every medical letter submitted to us, and students completed an electronic checklist affirming this is a valid letter and they understand the consquences of submitting a forgery.  Confirmed forgeries are now reported to the home college as an academic misconduct violation.

We are also warning students that the federal government seems to be more reluctant to issue new visas or reactivate immigration records for those students who withdraw relatively late in a semester.  It is likely that this is because the immigration rules for withdrawal are meant to serve as a formal "vacation" for unexpected situations, such as emergencies at home or a medical situation.  It is not meant to be used to escape poor grades, which is the intent of some late withdrawals. Students are warned accordingly of the risks they now take if they choose to withdraw late in a semester.

Retroactive Withdrawal

As of May 2014 the Student and Exchange Visitor Program informed ISSS that retroactive withdrawals and drops under any circumstances are not permissible.  If an international student is interested in withdrawing they must do so while the semester to be withdrawn is still in session.

Academic Dismissal

When a student is academically dismissed from the University of Iowa, there are immediate immigration consequences.  If you learn one of your advisees has been dismissed, please communicate this information to ISSS and encourage the student to come speak with us so ISSS can review what, if any, options the student may have other than departure from the U.S.  ISSS does send an email notification to each student once the dismissal lists are announced, detailing what steps to take and when.

Returning After Leave of Absence

Students who have been absent for less than 1 year from the University of Iowa are not required to be re-admitted.  Instead, those students will need to work with ISSS in order to ensure they have the appropriate immigration documentation to return.  Please be aware that ISSS may contact the academic advisor to determine how much time the student needs to complete his/her program, usually via the iHawk e-form system. 

Students who have been absent for more than 1 year from the University of Iowa must apply for readmission.