Doing Research or Studying Abroad

Are you interested in participating in field research or a study abroad program during your time at Rutgers?  International students are encouraged to participate in these opportunities. Visit our Study Abroad page for more information about international study opportunities available through Rutgers.

During your time away from campus, it may be possible to maintain your legal status and keep your SEVIS record active, by following these important requirements:

  • Review any questions you have about your legal status with an international student adviser and submit the Temporary Absence While Maintaining Registration e-form online through the RGlobal portal before leaving the United States for your research or studies.
  • Stay enrolled at Rutgers and register for a full time credit load (or apply for reduced credit load) each fall and spring semester you are away. You must be performing in-person requirements while abroad (example - taking in-person classes in Japan on exchange; conducting archival research at a library in Italy). Full time registration is not required during summer and winter break. If you do not plan to register for a full time credit load while doing research or studying abroad, or you are not doing in-person work, you may need to close your SEVIS record.  Please meet with an international student adviser to discuss your situation.   
  • Plan ahead for your return to the United States by reviewing our Travel and Visa Information page. If you will be outside the United States for less than one year, request an updated travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 before you depart the United States. If you are already abroad and need an updated travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, please contact an international student adviser at least 2 weeks before you plan to return.
  • Log into your MyRutgers portal to update your local U.S. address, U.S. cell phone number, non-Rutgers email address and emergency contact information within 10 days of your return to the United States. You MUST have a way to read/access your Rutgers emails when you are in your home country/while abroad. This is especially true for students that live in a country with a firewall. Not being able to access your Rutgers emails can have negative impacts on your immigration status, as important updates are sent to you with this method. Read how to update your contact information below.


"5 Month Rule"

Remaining outside of the United States for more than 5 months at a time could be considered a "permanent" absence by the US government, possibly impacting your ability to re-enter the US in the future with your current I-20 and visa, and future immigration benefits such as OPT. If this is your plan, please speak an Adviser before your travel/time abroad. Students that do not need to maintain an in-person presence at Rutgers may be advised to close their SEVIS records/end their F-1 status until their return.

When possible, active F-1/J-1 students that are studying/conducting research abroad are encouraged to return to the US every few months to avoid the 5 month rule impact. 

Please note that you may be questioned about your length of time away at either a U.S. embassy or consulate if you need to renew your visa, or at a U.S. port of entry when returning. Be prepared to explain why you have been away, and how your research or study abroad is related to your program at Rutgers, and your presence abroad was necessary to participate.