Leave of Absence (LOA)

Leave of Absence

F-1/J-1 international students who wish to take a semester off during the academic year (fall and spring semesters) and not enroll in courses must receive authorization for a Leave of Absence (LOA) from the Office of International Education.

Students considering an LOA must review these requirements:

  • Student must be in good academic standing when requesting an LOA
  • Student must be outside the U.S. during the LOA

It is the responsibility of the students to meet with their academic advisor and complete the LOA process for their department. Students also need to confirm with their department their eligibility to return to their academic program after the LOA.

  • All students should receive written approval from their academic department advisor

Medical Leave of Absence

F-1/J-1 students are eligible to take an LOA due to medical reasons. Students have the option to return to their home country or remain in the U.S. to receive medical treatment.

Students who wish to remain in the U.S. must obtain a doctor’s letter recommending the LOA for medical reasons. Students who remain in the U.S. without obtaining advance approval for medical LOA from the Office of International Education will be considered out of status.

Requirements and Limitations of Medical LOA:

  • Must have a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist recommending leave for a specific semester
  • Must have PRIOR approval from the Office of International Education and academic department before withdrawing from courses
  • No more than 12 months total leave are allowed per degree level

Students considering a LOA due to medical reasons must meet with an advisor in the Office of International Education.

Leave of Absence Exceeding 5 Months

Students who will be outside the U.S. for longer than 5 months for an LOA must obtain a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number in order to re-enter the U.S. and return. The current I-20/DS-2019 will be invalid after being outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months.

It is the student’s responsibility to the Office of International Education at least two months prior to returning to request the new I-20/DS-2019.

Students will need to use the new I-20/DS-2019 to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a new F-1/J-1 visa, even though they may possess an unexpired visa associated with their previous I-20/DS-2019 SEVIS ID number.

Leave of Absence and Employment Benefits Eligibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that an F-1 international student must be in status for a full academic year (9 months) in order to be eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. This regulation is especially important to note for students who are considering a LOA of over 5 months in the final year of studies.

Returning to Full-Time Enrollment after a Leave of Absence

All students returning from a LOA must validate their return to the Office of International Education by reporting within 21 days of the start of the new semester. Students must meet with the Office of International Education advisor.

Students must bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • Stamped I-20/DS-2019
  • I-94 card
  • Passport and Visa
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