A leave of absence is when a student wants to take a break from their studies (summer semester excluded - unless summer is the first or last semester of the degree program) or depart ISU permanently. Some common reasons for a leave of absence include medical leave, family emergency, military duty, etc. There is no time limit associated with a leave of absence, however students who wish to return to ISU will need to go through the reentry process. When a student plans to take a leave of absence, they need to notify ISSO of their plans through the "Absence from ISU" e-form in Cystart. 

Cystart Request


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 J-1 Student Services and complete the Absence from ISU e-form.


It is recommended that students notify ISSO before they plan to depart the United States. If a student leaves the U.S. without notifying the ISSO, they will still need to complete the required Cystart e-form.

Withdrawing from Classes

Students who are enrolled in classes and will not be attending due to a leave of absence need to complete a withdrawal form. Students should consult with their academic/faculty adviser regarding the withdrawal form and process.

Immigration Consequences

  • ISSO will terminate J-1 SEVIS record (and any J-2 dependents) for an “Authorized Early Withdrawal.” 
  • Following termination of the SEVIS record, the associated J-1 visa and DS-2019 are no longer valid. Students cannot reenter the United States with these immigration documents during a leave of absence.

Impact on Employment Authorization Eligibility

Students may lose time toward Academic Training. Students are only eligible for Academic Training for as long as they have been in their current J-1 status. Therefore, if a student reenters with a new J-1 record, they will only be eligible for Academic Training equal to the time spent in that current J-1 status.

For example, a student leaves the U.S. after two years in their program and, after some time, reenters with a new J-1 status. Upon their return, the student completes their degree in four months. This student would only be eligible for approximately four months of Academic Training following program completion. The two years spent toward their previous J-1 record no longer counts toward their Academic Training eligibility.

Leaving the United States

Students are required to depart the United States within 15 days of the termination of the J-1 record. Students whose departure date or plans to depart the U.S. have changed should contact ISSO immediately, or their immigration record will be terminated as initially requested in the Absence from ISU e-form.

Steps before Departing U.S.

There are many tasks students must complete prior to departing the U.S. These tasks include:

  • Inform academic/faculty adviser of upcoming departure
  • If renting from private company, notify landlord
  • If living on campus, complete the "check out" procedures with Department of Residence
  • Cancel services and pay final bills, such as university bill

Returning to ISU and the United States

To return to the U.S., a student will need a new DS-2019 to reenter the United States. Review the "Returning to ISU" page on the ISSO website and contact an International Student Adviser with further questions.

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.