Issa Leaving Nd

Leaving Notre Dame

Whether you are leaving Notre Dame permanently, studying abroad, or taking a leave of absence, you have responsibilities associated with your visa status that should be reviewed. 


Sixty days and thirty days before your program end date, you will receive an email from ISSA with information about your options upon completion of your program.  

If your graduation date does not match the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, please notify ISSA to correct your documents and inquire after the necessary information. 

Invitation Letter

The Department of State has been very clear that they do not consider institutional invitation letters in determining whether to issue a visitor visa for families wanting to attend graduation. It is more important that family members can articulate a clear purpose of the trip, an intent to return to their home country, and strong ties to home that ensure their return after the ceremonies.

If you want to provide documentation for your family members to carry with them to the consulate for a visitor visa application, it is recommended that you include the following information in your letter of invitation or explanation:

  • the visitor’s name, date of birth, place of birth, nationality, and relationship to the student,
  • an explanation of the purpose and length of their stay (example: to attend the graduation ceremony),
  • a tentative schedule while they are visiting the U.S., including where they will stay/eat, if known,
  • a description of what you will provide during the visit (for example: room and board for a specific period of time, round trip airfare). 

We also recommend you provide copies of the following documents for your visitors to have on hand, if questioned. 

  • evidence of your status in the US, provide your guests a copy of your I-20,
  • evidence of enrollment at Notre Dame (an unofficial transcript or a copy of your course schedule), and
  • proof of relationship to your guests (if they are family member/s).

Again, the visitors will need to provide evidence that they intend to return to their home country and not remain in the U.S. The decision to grant a visa is at the sole discretion of the consulate officer; the consulate officer may not look at or consider your letter or supporting documents, and they may not grant a visa for your family members or friends to join you in the U.S.

Grace Period Following Completion of Program

After completing your course of study or post-completion work authorization, you are granted a grace period: 

  • F-1 students and their dependents are granted a 60-day grace period
  • J-1 students and their dependents are granted a 30-day grace period

Failure to depart the U.S. before the end of your grace period is a violation of the F-1 and J-1 status and could affect future attempts to enter the U.S. Students who do not complete their programs, including those who are suspended/terminated from their academic programs, are not entitled to the grace period and should consult with ISSA to discuss departure plans.   

Study or Research Abroad

If you will study abroad or conduct research abroad with a Notre Dame-sponsored program during the fall or spring semesters, you must report this in ISSAlink prior to departing. ISSA must to report to SEVIS upon registration that you are studying abroad. Depending on how long your program is, you may need to make arrangements for ISSA to issue an updated I-20 for travel back to the U.S. 

If you will study abroad with a non-Notre Dame sponsored program, this will be considered a Leave of Absence. Please contact an ISSA advisor before you confirm your participation in the program, as the Leave of Absence may impact your work authorization opportunities. 

Transfer from Notre Dame

If you will transfer from Notre Dame to another institution, it is recommended that you also transfer your SEVIS record. To initiate the transfer of your SEVIS record, complete the Transfer Out Request form in ISSAlink. Once you have transferred your record, you must begin coursework at the new school within five months of completing coursework at Notre Dame or any post-completion OPT. 

F-1 Students

If you transfer during your program, your transfer date must be after the last day of classes in the current semester. If you transfer after completing your program, you must transfer within your 60-day grace period. While on OPT, you can arrange to transfer your record at any time through the 60 day grace period, though the transfer will automatically complete your OPT authorization.

J-1 Students    

All transfers must be set before your current program end date, and there can be no break in program dates. J-1 SEVIS records cannot be transferred during the 30-day grace period. 

Leave of Absence from Notre Dame

In most instances, a leave of absence requires that you depart the U.S. and ISSA terminate your SEVIS record.

If a student in F-1 status takes only one semesters' leave, it is possible for ISSA to request that SEVP reactivate your SEVIS record; if the request is approved by SEVP, then there is no impact on the F-1 status or I-20. 

If SEVP does not approve the reactivation request OR the student's leave is longer than one semester, upon the student's return, ISSA will issue a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number. With a new SEVIS ID number, the student must pay the I-901 fee again AND they must study under that ID number for one academic year before becoming eligible for CPT or OPT.

If a student in J-1 status takes any length of leave, their SEVIS record is terminated. A return to studies would require a new DS-2019 and new SEVIS ID.

The leave of absence process is initiated with the student's dean and the Registrar; once you have requested the leave, ISSA will follow up with information regarding the impact on your visa status.

There are very few situations in which an F-1 or J-1 student may take a leave of absence from Notre Dame and remain in the U.S., so it is important that you contact ISSA to determine your options. 


If you will withdraw from the university, contact ISSA to determine your options.

Suspensions and Terminations

If you are suspended or terminated from your program, you are considered to have violated your immigration status. ISSA is required to report this termination to DHS. Students who are terminated do not have any grace period. If you receive notice that you have been suspended or terminated, talk to an ISSA advisor to determine your options.