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Continuing Your Studies

As a current or previous student at the University of Rochester, we hope you are familiar with the International Services Office (ISO) and some of the requirements for F-1 and J-1 students.

Students who are preparing to continue their studies at the University generally fall into one of two categories:

  1. Return from an absence


  1. Change of academic level

Upon returning to the University, you are required to report to ISO to complete the mandatory immigration check-in process as soon as possible. You will be notified whether you are expected to attend the International Student Orientation Program.

Return from an Absence

Some students need to take a break or leave of absence during their studies. If ISO is unable maintain your SEVIS record during that time and you are absent for more than 5 months, you need to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 in order to return to Rochester and resume your studies. If your absence will be shorter than 5 months, please follow instructions for Leave of Absence for F-1 & J-1 Students to coordinate your return.

Contact the appropriate office below to make necessary arrangements with the school to resume your studies:

To allow time for processing, you should start this process at least three or four months before you plan to return to campus.

Once you return, you must be registered as a full-time student during that academic term, even if your new start date is during the usual summer vacation period. You will have to contact the appropriate University offices to make arrangements as needed for housing, insurance, billing, and more.

Even though you are returning from an absence, you are considered a new student for immigration purposes. Since you will have a new SEVIS record, you are required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again and may need time to apply for a new student visa.

If your current visa stamp was issued for study at the University of Rochester and is still valid, you can likely use that one again, but please contact your local US Consulate for specific guidance.

When booking your travel, please note that you may enter the United States no more than 30 days prior to the new start date on your I-20 or DS-2019.

Change of Academic Level 

If you have been accepted to a new degree program at the University of Rochester, you need to submit the New Student Request Form to request an I-20 or DS-2019 for the new academic level.

Since this new academic level is considered a different program of study, we must capture complete updated details. For example, a student going from a master's program to a doctoral program will have a new date of completion, new funding information, and possibly a new program of study. This option can be used to go to a higher or lower degree level at the University of Rochester. You must submit the New Student Request Form prior to making any official change in your degree program.

Once the Change of Level document is issued, your F-1 or J-1 work permissions are based only on your active level within SEVIS. Therefore, if you plan to participate in paid research or other on-campus employment between levels, you must complete your immigration check-in with ISO to activate your SEVIS record at the new level before beginning any work.

If you plan to travel, please contact ISO to discuss your plans. It is important that you travel with the new I-20 or DS-2019, or that a new document is not issued while you are outside the United States. You have permission to remain in the US between your academic programs, as long as that period is five months or shorter.