On the official government site, it is stated that a student's SEVIS record will be terminated if he/she "spent more than five months outside of the United States during an absence from school".
Does a termination of my SEVIS record imply that my F1 visa will become invalid as well? Also, the term "5 month" is ambiguous. First, does the "5 month" period refer to a consecutive 5 month outside of the US? If so, is there anything preventing me from just entering and exiting the US once every 5 month just to maintain my F1 status. Second, what does "absence from school" mean? If I'm a grad student not taking any course and just doing research outside of US, but still formally enrolled in the US university under "research units", am I considered "absent from school" for legal purposes?