International students requesting a leave of absence or withdrawing from the University must notify ISSS before the withdrawal or leave of absence is requested, even if the withdrawal or leave is only for one semester or part of a semester. Only ISSS can approve an authorized withdrawal in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Students who fail to notify ISSS prior to withdrawing may have their SEVIS record terminated for “Unauthorized Early Withdrawal” or “Failure to Enroll”. Both are negative termination reasons and inform the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the student failed to maintain the terms of their immigration status. Negative terminations on a student’s record may result in problems while traveling or applying for any future immigration benefits. Additionally, students whose records are negatively terminated do not receive a grace period and must depart the U.S. immediately.

Students who timely notify ISSS prior to withdrawing or taking a leave of absence will have their SEVIS record terminated for “Authorized Early Withdrawal”, which is a neutral termination reason. Terminations for “Authorized Early Withdrawal” inform DHS (and other relevant government agencies) that the student has taken the appropriate steps necessary to close out their SEVIS record prior to ceasing enrollment or completing the on-campus portion of their program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Students whose records are terminated for “Authorized Early Withdrawal” are allowed a 15-day grace period to depart the U.S. from the effective date of the withdrawal.
In order to be approved for an “Authorized Early Withdrawal” in SEVIS, students must submit the following form to ISSS:

Notice of Withdrawal or Leave of Absence Form

Students should consult their academic department regarding relevant University procedures regarding withdrawing or taking an official leave of absence from the University.

Students completing their degrees online may not remain in the U.S. and must also submit the Notice of Withdrawal or Leave of Absence to have their SEVIS record approved for an “Authorized Early Withdrawal.”

Readmission/Returning from Leave of Absence 

Students who wish to return to UNC-Chapel Hill will need to apply for readmission through the Undergraduate or Graduate Admissions office (or Professional Program).  Once the readmission decision is reflected in ConnectCarolina, students will receive an email from ISSS with instructions on submitting a new Financial Certificate Form and supporting documents to ISSS through ConnectCarolina. Upon receiving all required documents an ISSS advisor will process a new Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 within 3 weeks. Find more information about the Financial Certificate submission process on our website.

Students applying for readmission to UNC-Chapel Hill or returning after a leave of absence should reference the New Student Page for more information on the process of entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 immigration status.  Though students in this situation will not be new to UNC-CH, for immigration purposes, they will be treated as new students at the beginning of a new program of study:

  • Readmitted students must pay a new SEVIS fee and in some cases apply for a new visa stamp. Students are advised to plan ahead to allow enough time to receive the Form I-20 or DS-2019 and obtain a new visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S.
  • Students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date as listed on Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  • In order to be eligible for practical training, F-1 students must be enrolled full-time for at least one academic year upon returning to UNC-CH.