Leave of Absence

Your F-1 status is contingent on continued full-time enrollment. If you are unable to enroll full-time, you will need to take some kind of action to avoid violating your immigration status. If you are unable to enroll full-time, you must take one of the following courses of action:

  1. Change status (e.g. F-1 to F-2)
  2. Apply for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)
  3. Take a leave of absence

This section discusses the third option, taking a leave of absence. In immigration-speak, a leave of absence is known as Authorized Early Withdrawal (AEW). AEW is a process by which a SEVIS record is temporarily suspended to allow for the student to depart the US and to resume F-1 status in the future. This termination (often temporary) will not adversely affect your immigration record. This is highly recommended for anyone who cannot study full-time and wishes to return in the future to US to resume their studies.

Contact our office as soon as a situation like this emerges and do not drop your classes until after meeting one of our staff.  If you fail to notify ISSS about your intention to leave, it could have serious consequences if you want to visit, study or work in the U.S. in the future.

Process

  1. Meet with a member of our staff to discuss your plans
  2. Submit the Authorized Early Withdrawal Form and flight itinerary. Refer to Authorized Early Withdrawal Form for specific instructions.
  3. You will be notified by e-mail when this process is complete.

Returning from Authorized Early Withdrawal

Students remaining outside of the U.S. and out of classes for more than five months: You must have a new I-20 and visa to return. Additionally, you must pay the SEVIS fee again.

For all others: The U.S. government will not allow you to re-enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start of the term. For example, if the start of the term is January 17. The earliest you can enter the U.S. is December 18. Before returning, you must request ISSS to re-activate your SEVIS record. You can notify us of your intention to return up to 60 days prior to your scheduled start of term. Continuing with the example above, if the start of the semester is January 17, the government will allow you to return as early as December 18. In this scenario, you can notify us of your intent to return as early as November 17. After we receive your notification, we will request the U.S. government to re-activate your SEVIS record. The earlier you notify our office of your intent to return, the more time the government will have to re-activate your SEVIS record.

Our office will notify you once your SEVIS record is re-activated, at which time you will be permitted to enter the country. Pleased take into consideration your local living arrangements and academic situation when booking your return flight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have trouble returning to the U.S. to resume study?
Students who abide by F-1 regulations and follow ISSS procedures have little trouble returning.
If you stay outside of the U.S.causes you to be out of classfor more than five months, you will need a new I-20 and visa to return. To issue a new I-20, financial documentation issued within the past six months must be submitted to ISSS. You must also pay the SEVIS fee again. For some students, this creates certain challenges. If possible, try to time your leave of absence so you do not exceed the five month mark.
How is the the date I indicate on the form and the date of my departure related?
You can request an AEW date before your actual departure date; however, your departure date must be within 15 days of the requested AEW date. For example, if you request an AEW date of September 1, you must depart the U.S. no later than September 15. You must continue to maintain status until your AEW is approved. In the previous example, the student would be expected to maintain status through August 31.