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Leave of Absence or Withdrawal

If you are taking a temporary leave of absence or withdrawing from Northwestern altogether, you must withdraw your SEVIS record. Please note that once you have officially withdrawn, your grace period is 15 days and should leave the U.S. as quickly as possible.

How to withdraw your SEVIS record

  1. We recommend consulting with your  OISS advisor as a first step. We can provide guidance and clarification regarding the withdrawal or leave process.
  2. Complete the "Leave of Absence or Withdrawal Request" on the OISS Portal.
  3. When you are preparing to return to your academic program, review the information and follow the steps below.

Returning to NU  after a break in studies (Leave of Absence)

A returning student is defined as a student who, in the past, was accepted and enrolled at Northwestern University but withdrew from Northwestern for personal reasons, medical leave, family emergencies, academic suspension, required military service or any other reason. This student's previous SEVIS record was terminated.  

If you were away from Northwestern for less than 5 months, contact your OISS advisor to determine if you are eligible for a SEVIS reactivation.  

How to return after a break

1. For medical leaves only: Contact SASS for return approval.

2. Request re-entry to NU with the Registrar's Office.

Instructions for re-entry are located on the Office of the Registrar's websiteStudents are advised to inform their academic advisor, major advisor, faculty advisor, dean, or department chair to begin the process of reactivating their student status at Northwestern University. 

3. Determine next step with OISS Advisor

  • For students on a temporary leave of absence for less than five months - Contact your OISS Advisor to determine if you qualify for SEVIS reactivation.    
  • For students returning from a leave of absence for more than five months - Follow the instructions in steps 4 & 5 below. 

4. Complete and submit required documentation

Once your re-entry has been approved by your program/department, you will need to complete the New Student Immigration Document Request in the OISS Portal. Be prepared to upload the following documentation:

  • Completed (signed) FRET form confirming your return – in replacement of your original admission letter from Northwestern. For TGS students, include instead the email approval from TGS that includes your estimated completion time to finish your degree (final term of enrollment).
  • Financial documentation - review accepted forms of financial documentation.
  • Copy of passport
  • Please complete this request at least three months before the start of the quarter you hope to return to Northwestern.

5. Final steps after your I-20 or DS-2019 is issued:

  • Access the immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) electronically via the OISS portal. You will need to print and sign the document in blue ink in the "Student Attestation" section of the document.
  • Pay the SEVIS Fee.
  • Confirm your visa expiration date. If your F-1 or J-1 visa has expired,  review information on how to obtain a visa stamp.
  • Check-in with OISS upon arrival to the U.S.
  • When planning your schedule, be sure to enroll full-time during the first quarter you return.