To remain in valid immigration status as an F-1 or J-1 student, internationals must enroll full-time each required semester. If students need to take off a required semester, abruptly end their studies, or depart the US for an emergency, they may request permission for an Authorized Early Withdrawal (AEW).
Authorized Early Withdrawal allows student to temporarily suspend their immigration status while they are outside the US to more easily return to active status to continue their studies. Students must request AEW prior to withdrawing from class, departing the US, or before the 11th class day. Students with an approved AEW must depart the US within 15 days of the approval.
Please note, AEW is an immigration action and does not relieve students of academic or finial obligation.
Steps for Authorized Early Withdrawal
To complete your AEW students must:
- Visit an International Student Advisor for AEW counseling.
- Purchase flight tickets to leave the United States. ISS will not authorize AEW without a departure flight itinerary.
- Submit the online Travel Request Form and indicate “Leave of Absence (Authorized Early Withdrawal)” for purpose of travel
- Submit any required attachments.
After receiving confirmation of an approved AEW, students will then:
- Submit withdraw form to the Office of Records and notify academic department of leave of absense
- Gather affairs for departure including paying all UALR and personal bills, notifying Housing Office or landlord, leaving a forwarding address with the Post Office.
- Leave the U.S. within 15 days.
Returning to the United States after Authorized Early Withdrawal
Students who properly complete the process for Authorized Early Withdrawal prior to departing the U.S. will have a suspended immigration record while outside the country. Students must take action to request a return to active status and reenter the US. Methods of return will vary based on whether the student has been outside the US for more less than 5 months. After 5 months outside the U.S. on a terminated I-20 or DS-2019, your visa will no longer be active for travel, regardless of the expiration date.
Returning with less than 5 months absence:
- Students should first verify that their visa is unexpired.
- Students must contact ISS 30 days before return with a copy of your returning flight itinerary.
- Note: Students may only enter the US 30 days before the following semester. Students must enroll full-time in the following semester even if it is a summer session.
- ISS will submit a correction request to SEVP to return the suspended record to Active status. This may take 2-3 weeks, so students should not delay in contacting their International Student Advisor.
- The International Student Advisor will notify the student when the SEVIS record is back to Active status. Students will receive an updated version of their old I-20, retaining the same SEVIS number.
- Students must report to ISS with your immigration documents and your new I-94 (available at cbp.gov). The SEVIS record will not be activated without proof of entry (I-94).
Returning after 5 months absence:
- A student visa and SEVIS record will expire once a student has been out of the US for 5 months, regardless of the dates of original visa expiration.
- Students must contact ISS at least 30 days prior to return. Students will complete the Immigration Verification Form to receive a new SEVIS record and submit new financial statements.
- If eligible, an International Student Advisor will issue a new SEVIS record and mail an original I-20.
- Students must complete the following before returning to the U.S.
- Receive a new I-20 or DS-2019
- Pay a new I-901 SEVIS fee
- Apply for and receive a new visa
- Students must report to ISS with immigration documents and new I-94 (available at cbp.gov).The SEVIS record will not be activated without proof of entry (I-94).
Please note that students must contact ISS in the manner described above. Attempted re-entry without following these directions may result in denial at entry and further complications once admitted to the United States.