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Temporary Absence Process

Background

Stakeholders note the temporary absence process could be more efficient for students, schools and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The process, they explain, adversely impacts students that travel abroad, often to further their education in the United States.

Government Response

In June 2015, SEVP updated the process for corrections to student records with a temporary absence of less than five months. Designated school officials (DSOs) can now submit a request to change an F-1 student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to Active up to 60 days in advance of the student’s return from a temporary absence, which previously required the record to be Terminated. In the past, DSOs could only request this change up to 30 days prior to the student’s return.

Additionally, the SEVP Response Center (SRC) no longer requires that a copy of the student’s flight itinerary be submitted with a correction request. The SRC sets a high priority for temporary absence requests and, for most cases, will process the data fix within 30 days of the correction request submission.

Please note that allowing students to undertake a temporary absence of five months or more and to continuously maintain status would require a change to existing federal regulation. Although SEVP is internally discussing the issue, government priorities dictate SEVP’s policy and regulatory plans. 

Timeline

The timeline below illustrates the steps taken to communicate SEVP's progress to date.

2015
June 2015

SEVP updates the temporary absence process for F-1 students, allowing DSOs to submit a request to change an F-1 student’s SEVIS record to Active up to 60 days in advance of the student’s return. Previously, DSOs could only request this change up to 30 days prior to the student’s return.

December 2015

SRC no longer requires flight itineraries for change requests and aims to process most temporary absence data fixes within 30 days.