Can a (graduate) student studying in the US on an F-1 visa study abroad for a semester or a year, maintaning their F-1 status in the US university? (Assuming there is no formal exhcange agreement between the universities, but the accepting university is able to provide official transcript to transfer credits to the US university.) If so, how is it implemented? Do they have to register for some "blank courses"? Do they have to pay tuition while studying abroad? Or does it vary from university to university?
This article says:
According to the Department of Homeland Security, those who remain outside the U.S. for more than five months and aren’t part of an authorized study abroad program could lose their visa.
What is "an authorized study abroad program"? If the US university is aware that the student is studying abroad and the student have taken the necessary actions to maintain their status (e.g. registering for the "blank course" mentioned above), is this considered "an authorized study abroad program"?