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Is My Student Visa Still Valid After I Quit School?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

There’s no doubt that studying in the United States can open doors to first-class academics and a wealth of opportunities. After all, it is home to almost half of the world’s leading universities. However, factors such as financial constraints, homesickness, emergencies and academic fatigue can play a part in an international student’s decision to drop out of school.

How dropping out of school affects your F-1 visa

Being a full-time student at an educational institution is one of the key requirements for obtaining an F-1 visa. If a student decides to withdraw from school, they will no longer be a registered student, invalidating their F-1 status.
After determining that the student no longer wishes to continue, the designated school official (DSO) will update the student’s status to “authorized early withdrawal.” Students have 15 days after their status change to leave the United States. If the overstays past the grace period, they may hurt their chances of reentering the U.S. or applying for another visa.
Before dropping out or withdrawing, students must provide official notice to the institution. Without the school’s approval, the student forfeits the 15-day grace period, and their status will change to “unauthorized early withdrawal.” They will have no choice but to depart the country at once.

Is dropping out the right decision?

The pressure of the academic world can take a toll on students, especially if they are going through other personal matters. Instead of stopping school altogether, the student may wish to file a leave of absence (LOA) instead.

Unlike a withdrawal, a LOA has a set return date. Students can take a break and resume their studies later by reactivating their F-1 status. However, if their LOA exceeds five months, the student must reapply for a visa and form I-20.

Dropping out is a major decision that can impact a student’s future prospects. Those who have already come a long way in their studies may decide to keep going so as not to waste their hard work. However, F-1 visa holders who run into issues during their time in the U.S. may want to consult with an immigration law attorney to explore their options.
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