Leave of Absence
F-1 students wishing to take a personal / academic Leave of Absence must file all necessary paperwork with the appropriate university office (Dean of Students Office for undergraduate students, the Academic Deans Office for graduate students) and with the Office of International Student Services (ISS).
If you are considering taking a Leave of Absence you must contact ISS to set up an appointment with one of the student advisors. If you are overseas you may be scheduled for a phone appointment with an advisor.
You will need to complete the Leave of Absence Awareness Form with the advisor, as well as complete the additional paperwork from other university departments. If the personal / academic Leave of Absence is approved, the student is required to leave the United States and remain outside the U.S. for the duration of the entire academic semester.
Since F-1 status is based on presence within the U.S., students approved for a Leave of Absence will have their SEVIS immigration record terminated. Depending on the amount of time the SEVIS record is in terminated status, ISS may be able to request that Immigration change the record back to active for re-entry into the U.S.
If the student’s record is in terminated status for less than five months, ISS may be able to make the request to change the record back to active. The student must meet with an advisor in ISS to determine eligibility.
If the student’s SEVIS record is terminated for more than five months, the record must remain in terminated status. ISS will assist with processing a new I-20 for re-entry to the U.S. at the appropriate time (see Leave of Absence form for details on applying for a new I-20). Once the new I-20 is used to enter the country, the “F-1 time-clock” will begin anew and students will be ineligible for some F-1 benefits, such as CPT and OPT, until after completion of two additional semesters of study. The student may only re-enter the U.S. in the 30 days prior to the new program start date indicated on the newly issued I-20.
Students should contact their local consulate to see if they need to obtain a new F-1 Visa in order to reenter the U.S
Upon return to the U.S. the student must provide copies of the I-94 card, I-20 and any other relevant documents (new F-1 visa if applicable) to the Office of International Student Services to prove absence from the United States. The student will not be able to register for classes until those copies are provided.