The reentry process must be completed after a student has been absent from ISU for at least one full semester (other than summer). Typically, students who are absent from ISU have spent time in their home country or another U.S. institution prior to returning to ISU.


Students are encouraged to complete the "Returning to ISU" process at least three to four months before the start of classes. This ensures approval from the university, academic department, and ISSO for reentry occur in time for the start of classes.

Step 1: Returning to the University

Undergraduate Student Process

Students must first apply to be readmitted to the university. To apply for readmission, students must complete the International Student Reentry Form.

  • Students who were enrolled for even one day of their most recent previous semester at ISU do not need to complete the university's International Student Reentry form and therefore do not need to be readmitted to the university.

Academically Dismissed

Dismissed students must be academically reinstated prior to returning to ISU. Dismissed students must complete the Reinstatement after Academic Dismissal Form. Academically dismissed students are advised to meet with their academic adviser to discuss the reinstatement process.

Graduate Student Process

Graduate students must first request to have their graduate record reactivated

  • Graduate Students who have been away from ISU for fewer than four consecutive semesters can do this by calling the Office of the Registrar at 515-294-2331.
  • Graduate students who have been away from ISU for four consecutive semesters must submit Request to be Reinstated to Academic Status.

Step 2: Requesting a new I-20

Students must complete the Returning to ISU e-form in Cystart. This is an electronic process completed through Cystart. The link for Cystart can be found on the ISSO homepage. Log in to Cystart using ISU NetID and password. Once in Cystart, select F-1 Student Services and complete the "Returning to ISU" e-form.

Required Documentation

Proof of financial support for one academic year (defined as a fall and spring semester)

  • Refer to the Expense Worksheet to understand how much financial support is required
  • Financial documents more than 3 months old will not be accepted
  • Examples of financial documentations include: U.S. or foreign bank statements, Letter of Intent for graduate assistants, etc. Consult with an ISSO advisor on other types of acceptable financial support documentation)

Students Transferring to ISU

Students transferring from another U.S. institution will need to work with the other institution's international office to have their immigration record transferred. ISSO cannot issue an I-20 until the SEVIS record has been transferred.

ISSO Processing

The ISSO will only process the Returning to ISU request after the Registrar's Office and student's academic department have approved the reentry form, the student has removed all holds, and, if dismissed, the reinstatement to ISU is approved. Failure to submit either form in advance could result in significant delays in the reentry form being processed.

Step 3: New Visa (if applicable)

Students who will have been outside of the U.S. without an F-1 status for five months or longer will be issued a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number. Students will be required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again but may be able to use the previous F-1 visa, if still valid. See Study in the States for more information. 

Step 4: Arrive in Ames

Entering the U.S.

Students on an initial I-20 with a new SEVIS number can arrive up to 30 days prior to the program start date. The program start date can be found in item #5 of your I-20. ISSO recommends that you arrive 3 - 4 days before your program start date.

Required Documents for Reentry

Students must have the following documents in their possession when entering the United States:

  • Passport
  • I-20
  • Admission letter
  • Financial support documentation

Step 5: Check In with ISSO

Students must complete an Electronic Check-In with ISSO after they have arrived in the U.S. The Electronic Check-In can be completed in Cystart's "Orientation Checklist – F-1 and J-1 Students” found under the "International Student Orientation" tab. To complete the process, students must:

  • Review the F-1 immigration regulations presentations and complete the quizzes
  • Complete the electronic check-in form and upload copies of immigration documents such as passport, visa, I-20, and I-94.
Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.