Returning Students

Returning Students

Image credit:

Planning for Withdrawal

BEFORE WITHDRAWAL: undergraduates must speak with their College advisers (i.e. College of Letters & Science) and graduate students speak with their Graduate Student Affairs Officers or faculty adviser before taking steps to cancel or withdraw to understand academic consequences, fee payment/reimbursements and readmission. See the Registrar's office Withdrawal website for information about how withdrawal may impact your academic record and admission/readmission and also note tuition/fee refund deadlines

Returning for Fall or Spring Terms

Students who have cancelled or withdrawn from UC Berkeley and would like to resume their programs in the Fall or Spring terms must first be readmitted to get access to campus systems for enrollment and to request F/J documents to return to the US for study. Students resuming their programs in Summer must follow different procedures (see below).


  • Undergraduate Student Readmission
    Work with your college to apply for Readmission to UC Berkeley. Readmission is not guaranteed, and the decision ultimately rests with your college or school. Each college and school has different expectations, deadlines, and requirements. Please consult your college or school for detailed information. For instructions, applications, and deadlines, see Applying for Readmission Readmission for summer session only is not required (see below).

  • Graduate Student Readmission
    Contact your Graduate Department for information regarding readmission after a withdrawal or leave of absence. The Graduate Division and your department, school, or group will review your application and academic record and notify you of their decision. Inquire with your academic department for deadlines and other required steps specific to your application.

After readmission, all F-1/J-1 students must submit the Nonimmigrant Information Form. The NIF will allow you to submit a request for your F-1 or J-1 documents for return.  You will need to determine if you will require a New SEVIS Record (F-1 or J-1 students) or SEVIS Reactivation (F-1 only). See below for more information on those options.

Returning in Summer

New SEVIS Record: Obtaining your new F-1 or J-1 Documents (I-20/DS-2019)

If you do not qualify for F-1 SEVIS Reactivation (see below), then you must obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 and begin a new F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record. In order to return to the US, you will need: 

  • New I-20/DS-2019- Once your readmission is approved (or your summer enrollment is completed), Berkeley International Office can issue the I-20 or DS-2019 document for your return to UC Berkeley. You will need to complete the Nonimmigrant Information Form. You may return to the United States no more than 30 days prior to your program start date listed on your new I-20 or DS-2019 form.
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee-  You must pay a new I-901 SEVIS Fee before re-entering the US. If you will apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa, you must pay the SEVIS fee at least 3 days prior to your visa appointment. 
  • Your F-1 Visa- Check your current F-1 visa expiration. If your F-1 visa is expired or will expire before your return, you must obtain a new F-1 visa before re-entry. If your F-1 visa will be unexpired at the time of your re-entry, current Dept of State and SEVP guidance indicates that you do not need to apply for a new visa if your current F student visa is still valid, regardless of length of time outside the United States.  Because you are beginning a new SEVIS record with a new SEVIS number, the SEVIS ID associated with your previous visa will not match the new I-20. If your previous F-1 student visa for UC Berkeley is still unexpired it may be used, although students should be aware that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has  occasionally been inconsistent in their treatment of students re-entering with an old visa and a new I-20 with new SEVIS ID. We recommend that you print current SEVP guidance and travel with it, in case you face issues. If your previous visa was from a school other than UC Berkeley,  and you are beginning a new SEVIS record, BIO recommends that you obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, if this is possible before your re-entry. Re-entry on a new SEVIS record with a valid visa from a different school is possible, but may carry more risk. 
  • Your J-1 Visa- BIO recommends that you obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before your re-entry. Re-entry on a new SEVIS record with a visa associated with your prior record may carry more risk and an exception is not indicated in the current SEVP guidance
  • Other required documents: Evidence of Financial Support, Proof of Enrollment, Proof of SEVIS Fee payment. See the Travel & Re-Entry page for more details and current requirements for entry.

New SEVIS Record: Required Arrival Confirmation

All returning students with a new SEVIS record are required to complete the Online Arrival Confirmation before classes start in order to officially activate their F/J status.

New SEVIS Record: F-1 or J-1 Employment

F-1 or J-1 students are eligible to begin working on campus at any point during the 30 days prior to their program start date.

Off-Campus Employment
F-1 or J-1 students who have been withdrawn for a semester or more may not be eligible for off-campus employment, depending on the reason for the withdrawal. Due to the complexity of this matter, it is best to consult with an adviser at Berkeley International Office before beginning any off-campus employment after a semester or more of withdrawal from UC Berkeley.

To be eligible for Practical Training (CPT/OPT), F-1 students must be in F-1 status for at least 2 academic semesters. J-1 students must be in J-1 status for at least one semester to be eligible for Academic Training

*If you are returning to complete your degree in less than 2 full-time semesters, please contact a BIO adviser for more information regarding your CPT/OPT eligibility.

SEVIS Reactivation for Absences Less Than 5 Months (F-1 only)

In some cases, an F-1 student may take a temporary leave of absence of less than 5 months from studies and return using the same F-1 SEVIS record after a SEVIS Termination. If approved, you will retain the same SEVIS ID number and same SEVIS record, with continuous F-1 status (including eligibility for CPT/OPT).

Steps to apply for SEVIS Reactivation

  1. Submit the Nonimmigrant Information Form indicating you qualify for SEVIS Reactivation. You must meet all the criteria listed below.
  2. BIO Advisor will review and approve your request and then submit the request to SEVIS to reactivate your record. (The request can only be submitted to SEVIS 60 days before the next semester start date.)
  3. If you are SEVIS APPROVED- BIO wil notify you of your SEVIS approval AND will send you a NEW I-20 via email. See the Travel & Re-Entry page for more details and current requirements for entry. You can enter up to 30 days before the start of instruction for your next semester of enrollment. DO ATTEMPT TO ENTER THE US UNTIL YOU RECEIVE THE NEW I-20.
  4. If you are DENIED- BIO will notify you of the denial. You will need to follow instructions above to complete your NIF again for a New SEVIS Record.

Eligilbity Criteria for SEVIS Reactivation
To qualify for SEVIS Reactivation, students must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • You were previously F-1 and are applying to return in F-1 status
  • You met with a BIO adviser before requesting the UC Berkeley cancellation/ withdrawal in Cal Central AND completed a Berkeley International Office Cancellation/Withdrawal Impact Form. (If you did not meet with a BIO advisor before submitting your cancellation/withdrawal in Cal Central you will be denied.)
  • You submitted an official cancellation/withdrawal request through Cal Central
  • You attended classes in person in the US until the date of your withdrawal OR if you withdrew during a semester break, you attended classes in person in the US until the end of your previous semester.
  • You exited the US within 15 days of the Cal Central withdrawal/cancellation effective date
  • You did not re-enter the US during your withdrawal semester. (Entry in Tourist or other status during the period of withdrawal will cause your reactivation to be DENIED.)
  • The start of the next semester is less than 5 months from the date you submitted your withdrawal in Cal Central
  • Your re-entry date is less than 5 months from from both your Exit date from the U.S. AND your Cal Central withdrawal/cancellation effective date
    • Cancellation Following Summer Vacation-If  you cancelled Fall semester after completing a Summer vacation period, you must return for the following Spring with a re-entry date within 5 months of the start of that prior Fall semester. 
  • Your re-entry date will be within 30 days before the next semester instruction start date for your return semester
  • At the time of the reactivation request, you will be outside of the US
  • You will be enrolled full-time for your return semester, with no more than 1 online class.

Transferring your I-20 to Back to UC Berkeley

If you are transferring your SEVIS record back to UC Berkeley, you are not required to obtain a new visa or pay a new SEVIS fee when obtaining your UC Berkeley I-20. The SEVIS ID on your new I-20 and visa will remain the same. You may arrive to the United States anytime before your program start date. See the BIO Transfer Student website for instructions on how to obtain your new UC Berkeley I-20.