New F1-VISA Requirement

I am a international student currently pursuing my Ph.D. I am planning on taking a break from my studies due to some personal work and I will be going to India ny end of this month. I am planning on coming back to pursue my Ph.D. in coming fall-2020 (mostly to a different university). I will be taking “Authorized Early Withdrawal”.

As I will be staying outside USA for more than five months, I was told that my SEVIS will be terminated.

So, when I come back I will be needing new I-20, new SEVIS record ( I will be paying SEVIS fee again).
But, I do not have any clarity regarding visa. I have received my current F1-visa in Jun 2016 and is valid till Jun-2021.

So, regarding this I have contacted CBP information center and they told me that I do not have to take a new visa again as my visa is valid till 2021 but I do need a new valid I-20 and SEVIS record.

I have even contacted DSO’s of schools I have planned on attending and they gave me the same response as well.

Now, when I contacted the US consulate back in India, they told me that I need to get a new F1-visa before returning back.

I am confused on whom to follow and how to proceed. I would like to know if anyone has idea about this or if anyone can suggest me.


This is slightly conflicting info that I received as well in the past. There are two ways to look at it, if you want to be super safe, you may be eligible for Dropbox, ( check once) and apply for Dropbox and get it stamped…If you are ok to take the chance, then you can take the proof of documentation or emails you sent to CBP and University and use that as proof at Port of Entry. Of course, this is a little gamble…But, you need to make a decision… Try reaching out to couple more consulates in India and see their response… Also, if you are going to different University, it can raise eyebrows, so think about it…