Returning to Miami

International students take time off from their studies at Miami University for a variety of reasons. A gap of enrollment occurs when a student:

  • Takes a leave of absence for a semester or multiple semesters
  • Choose to apply for a total withdrawal of enrollment mid-semester
  • Is suspended for a semester or multiple semesters for academic or conduct reasons

Because enrollment is a requirement to maintain legal status as a student, ISSS is required to report when international students take time off from their studies and terminate the previous SEVIS record.

Therefore, international students who wish to return to their studies require a new visa document (I-20 or DS-2019) in order to return to the U.S. and to Miami University. 

Important Deadlines

There are a number of steps that must be completed in order to successfully return. Because document issuance and visa applications take time, it is important to start the return process as early as possible. All requests for an I-20 to return to studies should be submitted and all tasks in Stage 1 completed at least thirty days before the start of the semester. After this deadline, the request form will be unavailable and incomplete requests canceled.

  • If you plan to return to your studies for fall semester, you should submit all request forms and complete all required tasks as early as March and no later than May. Miami closes the registration system for fall between the end of May through mid-July.
  • If you plan to return to your studies for spring semester, you should submit all request forms and complete all required tasks as early as October and no later than November.
  • If you plan to return to your studies for summer term, you should submit all request forms and complete all required tasks as early as February and no later than March.
    • Please note summer return is not advised by ISSS. While summer enrollment is optional for continuing students, as a returning student, you are required to enroll full-time due to government regulations. This can be challenging due to lack of course availability in summer; additionally courses are sometimes unexpectedly canceled. This can cause your enrollment to drop below full-time, resulting in loss of legal status.

Return Steps

Stage 1: Submit Required Forms and Enroll in Coursework

Complete steps 1-4 concurrently (at the same time). ISSS will only issue your I-20 or DS-2019 after you have been approved for re-enrollment, resolved all registration holds, and enroll full-time in coursework for your return semester.

  1. Submit Re-Enrollment Request
  2. Submit Return from Absence or Suspension request
    • Login to InterLink to submit your e-form request to “Return from Absence or Suspension” to ISSS.
      1. You will be required to upload documentation, including your passport and recently issued proof of funding. Refer to the Expense Chart for guidance on estimated tuition, fees, living expenses, and other costs.
      2. You will need to provide contact information for your divisional academic advisor. After you submit your request, it will be reviewed by your academic advisor.
      3. After your academic advisor comments on your request to return, ISSS will review your request and follow up with additional instructions regarding registration holds and enrollment.
  3. Resolve Registration Holds

    1. Check your BannerWeb account for any registration holds that prevent your enrollment.  Common registration holds may be from these offices:

      • Academic Division (all students)
      • Rinella Learning Center (if returning from suspension)
      • One Stop (if you have an unpaid bill)
      • Academic Integrity (if you have had a recent academic integrity violation)
      • ISSS Most students returning after an absence or suspension will have a registration hold from ISSS. This hold is resolved through submission of a complete "Return from Absence or Suspension Request" in InterLink.
    2. To resolve a hold, contact the necessary office for instructions.  ISSS will also provide communication regarding holds you must resolve if you have difficulty.

  4. Enroll Full-Time in Coursework

    • Registration opens in BannerWeb in late April for fall semester.

    • Registration opens in BannerWeb in late October/early November for spring semester.

Stage 2: Visa Document Issuance

  1. Visa Document Issuance

    • After you have completed steps 1-4, notify ISSS and an advisor will work on your I-20 or DS-2019.  

  2. Pick Up or Express Mail

    • ISSS will provide you with pick up or express mail instructions so that you may quickly receive your visa document after it is issued.

  3. Pay Required SEVIS Fee

    • After you receive your new visa document, please pay the required SEVIS fee.  Instructions will be provided with your document.

  4. Apply for Visa

    • If your current visa is not expired, it is your choice whether to apply for a new visa. This is a reminder that your old visa is attached to your old I-20, not your new document. This can sometimes cause questions from the officer at the port of entry.

    • If you choose to apply for the F-1 visa, allow sufficient time. You will have to submit the I-20, documentation of your financial support, official academic transcript, SEVIS fee receipt, and evidence that you intend to return to your home country at the conclusion of your studies in the US (i.e. ties to your home country). Before your visa interview, you will need to pay the visa application fee and fill out Form DS-160. This is a reminder that certain factors can cause increased scrutiny such as previous violations of status and academic performance (low GPA).

Stage 3: Return to the U.S. and Resume Study

  1. Re-Enter U.S.

    • Book your flight. You may re-enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date on your new I-20 or DS-2019. Check the first page of your document and review your program start date in the “program of study” section (on an I-20) or the “from” date in the “form covers period” section (on a DS-2019). Please note you must return to the U.S and to Miami no later than the start of classes. It is not an option to return late.

  2. Check in with ISSS

    • After you return to the U.S., please complete the “Returning Student Document Check Request” e-form in Interlink. You will need to upload copies of your passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019, and proof of SEVIS fee payment and enter information about your local U.S. address and phone number. After you complete this form, an advisor will verify the documentation. If all information is accurate and complete, ISSS will be able to register your new SEVIS record.

Impact of Absence on Practical Training Benefits

If you are a student in F-1 status returning to the U.S. with a new I-20 and SEVIS record, you will not be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) until you have been registered in coursework and maintained status for one full academic year (summer sessions excluded). Time spent in the U.S. prior to your leave of absence does not count.

Enrolling in winter term courses

ISSS will only issue a visa document that corresponds with the spring semester start date. However, you may re-enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start of the spring semester (typically the very end of December). If you choose to do so and enroll in a winter term course, that is okay.

The reason ISSS has this policy is because of government rules regarding full-time enrollment in the term of return. This ensures that if you experience difficulty in your winter term course, you will be able to drop the course with no impact on your legal status.