Leave of Absence
Sometimes things happen that require F-1 students to pause their studies and return home. This is called a Leave of Absence (LOA), and our office is here to help you understand what an LOA is and how you can apply for one if needed.
- What is a Leave of Absence?An LOA is an approved semester off from your studies, and a temporary termination (or an "Authorized Early Withdrawal") of your I-20 while you are on the LOA.
- Can I stay in the U.S. while on an LOA?No, F-1 students are not allowed to stay in the United States if they are on an LOA. This would be a violation of the visa regulation.
- Why is my SEVIS record temporarily terminated while on an LOA?In order for your SEVIS record to remain in Active status you have to be registered every semester in SEVIS. As DSOs we are not permitted to register students in SEVIS if the student is not enrolled in classes for that semester. This means that while on an LOA, since you would not be enrolled in classes, your SEVIS record would be temporarily terminated just for that semester.
- Will my SEVIS record be returned to Active status after the LOA?Yes. When you are ready to return to the United States to study you will need to:
- Contact your Student Success Coach or Program Director to be enrolled in classes for the upcoming semester
- Contact your DSO requesting for your SEVIS record to be returned to Active status
- When can I take an LOA?An LOA may only be taken after the student has completed one full academic year at CBU and can only be used for one semester (less than 5 months).
- How long can I be on an LOA?To return on your original I-20 you must re-enter the U.S. less than 5 months after your I-20 was placed on Authorized Early Withdrawal. This also means you need to be enrolled in classes within 5 months of the start of your LOA.
Applying for a Leave of Absence
- Step 1: Contact your Student Success Coach or Program DirectorBefore you plan to take an LOA you need to contact your Student Success Coach or Program Director to make sure that missing a semester will not affect your degree completion timeline, or cause you to miss classes that are only offered in certain semesters.
- Step 2: Contact your DSOOnce you have approval from your program you need to contact your DSO to confirm that you are eligible for an LOA.
- Step 3: Complete the Petition for Leave of Absence
- Step 4: Wait for approvalYou will be notified when your LOA has been approved, and your I-20 has been temporarily terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal.
- Step 5: Notify appropriate offices on campusBefore you head home you need to make sure other offices on campus know you will be gone for a semester. Examples: Housing Services, University Card Services, any on-campus job, etc.
- Step 6: Depart the United StatesOnce your I-20 is temporarily terminated you will have 15 days to depart the country.
- Step 7: Set a reminder to return within five monthsYour approved LOA allows you to be outside of the United States for up to five months. We strongly recommend that you set a reminder at the three-month mark to begin the process of returning to CBU and the U.S.
Returning to the U.S. After a Leave of Absence
- Step 1: Re-enroll at CBU within five months of your initial LOA date
Again, approved LOAs for F-1 students are only five months long. In order to return to the U.S. on the same I-20 you need to be enrolled in classes and back in the United States within five months of your departure for your LOA.
Please note, undergraduate students: This five month rule applies over summer as well. So if you take an LOA in the Spring semester you still need to return to CBU, and be enrolled in classes, within five months of your departure, which would be during the summer.
- Step 2: Enroll in coursesContact your Academic Advisor to help you get enrolled in courses for the upcoming semester.
- Step 3: Contact your DSOOnce you are enrolled in courses please email your course schedule to your DSO as verification that you are returning to the U.S. and to being in classes here at CBU. Your DSO will then contact SEVIS and request that your SEVIS record be returned to Active status.
- Step 4: Wait for your SEVIS record to be returned to Active status.This process can take a few weeks, so please allow your DSO time to hear back from SEVIS after the request has been made. You will be contacted by your DSO once this is approved.
- Step 5: Finalize plans to return to the U.S.Once you have your SEVIS record in Active status again you may begin making plans to return to the United States. Please contact the appropriate offices on campus to make sure you are all set with things like Housing, health insurance, a meal plan, etc.
Have questions about LOAs that weren't answered here? Contact our office and we'd be happy to help!