I am a visiting researcher at a US university on a J-1 visa. In the end of November, I left the US for an extended period in my home country. Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I did not notify the university's international office. When they realized my error a few days ago, they allowed me to file this notification after the fact, such that my SEVIS record has now been updated to record authorized absence starting from early February until my planned return to the US. However, since SEVIS cannot be updated retroactively, there is still a gap in my SEVIS record of around 40 days. I am aware that this could potentially be a very big problem. What should I be prepared for?
I have not been able to find many resources addressing my situation. Searching around suggests that I am likely not out of status, since that would require me to accrue unlawful presence within the US, while my situation is effectively the opposite: I left the US 'too soon', and am currently still outside the US. If I were out of status, it seems that I could regain status by obtaining a new SEVIS record. But I am really not sure which of the scarce resources I found really apply to my situation.
Am I at risk of losing my J-1 program? I can imagine many possibilities, but I am not sure what to prepare for while I wait to hear back from the international office.