Your F-1 status is based on your full-time enrollment. If you are not going be enrolled in courses full-time, you will need to take some kind of immigration action and must notify our office as soon as possible. If you are taking a leave of absence, working with OGE is required and a separate requirement from anything you must do or file for your academic department/university.
If you fail to notify OGE about your leave, even after arranging a leave with your department, your record will be terminated for “Failure to Enroll” and this could leads to the loss of your F-1 status and have other serious consequences if you want to visit, study or work in the U.S. in the future.
Before Taking a Leave of Absence or Withdrawing
- If your leave is for a documentable medical reason, you can be authorized for a reduced course load based on medical conditions, and your SEVIS record will remain active. In order to do so log into My Global Portal to submit the Reduced Course Load request.
- You cannot be authorized for work authorization while you are on an official school leave.
How to Apply for a Leave of Absence:
- Review the university policies for your current education level and check with your department:
2. Complete the Leave of Absence request in MyGlobal Portal.
After submitting your request, your SEVIS record will be terminated for “Authorized Early Withdrawal“, which will not adversely affect your immigration record.
3.Depart the country within 15 days of the termination date (for “Authorized Early Withdrawal” only). You cannot be in the U.S. with a terminated record. You do not have a grace period to leave and you must depart immediately. You will receive an email confirmation from OGE saying that your record has been terminated.
Returning from a Leave of Absence
F-1 students returning from a leave of fewer than 5 months:
If the gap in your enrollment will be fewer than five months, OGE can usually request that your F-1 status is ‘reactivated’ by USCIS. Reactivation allows you to use the same I-20 and visa (if not expired).
Note that OGE can only request that your record is reactivated. USCIS approves the actual reactivation and often requires additional documentation from the school and the student to make the change. If your leave is for fewer than five months, you must:
- Confirm with your academic department that you are eligible to return to the University. To be eligible for reactivation, you must be full time enrolled during the next available semester.
- Email OGE up to 60 days before the semester begins and at least one month before you plan to return. This will give OGE time to request that your record is reactivated with USCIS.
- Confirm you have a valid travel signature. If not, you can request an updated signature.
- Check your email regularly. USCIS often requires additional information to reactivate your status on very short notice (such as a transcript copy, proof of travel, or other documents). Once your request has been approved, OGE will notify you via email.
- Re-enter to the U.S. with all required travel documents, including a valid F-1 visa after your record is set back to ‘active’. Note that reactivation times vary. OGE cannot guarantee when your record will be turned back to ‘active’.
F-1 students returning after more than 5 months:
If there will be more than a five month gap between your enrollment, you will require a new, ‘Initial’ I-20. This will be a completely new F-1 record. If your leave is for more than five months, you must:
- Submit the Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request form and financial documentation ~3 months before you plan to return to the University.
- Coordinate with your department to submit any necessary information for your return.
- Receive your new Form I-20 or DS-2019 from OGE.
- Pay the SEVIS fee.
- Get a visa:
- F-1 students: Obtain a new F-1 visa, ONLY if your old visa is no longer valid.
- Travel to the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date listed on your new I-20.