International Students and Scholars Office

Taking a Leave of Absence

If you (as an F-1 Student) need to take a leave of absence from your academic program, you must complete the Leave of Absence process prior to the first day of classes or prior to dropping your courses (if taking a leave mid-semester). F-1 students must remain outside of the U.S. during the leave.  

  • By completing the Leave of Absence process in a timely manner, the ISSO will provide you with an "Authorized Early Withdrawal” in SEVIS which does not leave a negative mark on your immigration record.
  • If you fail to complete the Leave of Absence process in a timely manner, the ISSO is required to close your SEVIS record for “Failure to Enroll” or "Unauthorized Withdrawal" which can cause problems in the future when you plan to return to continue your studies or if you need to apply for a new visa or other immigration benefits in the future.

International students do not qualify for "Stop Out". SEVIS regulations do not permit F1 students to “stop out” without formally requesting/receiving approval for an LOA. 


Applying for Leave

  1. Schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor to discuss your plans
  2. Upload your flight ticket and notify your International Student Advisor via email
  3. Discuss your leave eligibility and academic plans with your academic advisor
  4. Complete Leave of Absence Petition

An “I-20 Immigration Documents” hold which prevents enrollment will be placed on your student record once your leave of absence request is approved. To remove the hold, you must follow the "Returning from Leave" instructions and request an I-20.

Returning from Leave

  1. Notify your International Student Advisor of your planned return to the U.S.
  2. Follow the Returning Student website
  3. Request a new I-20
  4. Pay the SEVIS fee as soon as you receive the new I-20
  5. Renew F-1 visa (if applicable)
    • If you are outside the U.S. for more than 5 months, apply for new F-1 visa.
    • If you are outside the U.S. for less than 5 months, contact the U.S. embassy in your country to determine whether or not your F-1 visa needs to be renewed
  6. Enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the Program Start Date listed on the new I-20
  7. Complete Immigration Check-In and report your arrival in the U.S. 
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