What is the Five-Month Rule?
The five month rule refers to the termination of a student’s record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) based on the student being away from classes or not in status for five months. This rule applies to the following students:
- Students who have had their student record terminated (i.e., been out of status) for more than five months; and
- Students who have spent more than five months outside of the United States during an absence from school, excluding those participating in authorized study abroad programs.
If your student record is terminated, you fall under the five-month rule and you wish to return to the United States as a student, you will need to obtain a new/initial Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," with a new SEVIS ID and pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee again. Only if your current student visa is no longer valid, do you possibly also need to apply for and receive a new student visa.
For more information on student visas, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website. To determine whether the five-month rule applies to you, contact your designated school official or the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you would renew your visa.