Leave of Absence
Sometimes students need to take a break from their studies, for any number of personal, family, or academic reasons. The ISO will help you to determine the most appropriate reporting for your F-1 or J-1 record, based on the arrangements you make with the school. It is important to understand your options by discussing plans in detail with an ISO Advisor as early as possible.
In most cases, the Leave of Absence (LOA) requires a termination of your current F-1 or J-1 record. This will trigger a limited grace period to leave the U.S. or request permission to stay here in another status. You may only remain in the US under a student category during a LOA when you have a documented medical condition and are approved for the Reduced Course Load. Otherwise, please use the Temporary Leave of Absence form to report the effective date of your leave. When you are prepared to return to your studies, please follow instructions below depending on how long your leave is in total.
Short-term LOA (fewer than 5 months)
If you will be taking a Leave of Absence, leaving the US, and returning to your studies within 5 months, it may be possible to reactivate your current F-1 or J-1 record before you return. This 5-month limit does NOT include eligible vacation terms. Therefore, if you were not enrolled during summer vacation and take a LOA for fall, this would still be considered a short-term leave for immigration purposes.
When you are prepared to return, please use the Temporary Leave of Absence form to confirm that arrangements are made with the school and the date you are expected to enroll. The ISO will submit a correction request that your SEVIS record be changed back to Active status up to 30 days before you resume your studies. As a result, you will be able to use your current I-20 or DS-2019, your unexpired visa will remain valid, and you will not have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again. Please notify the ISO of your travel plans, in case a travel letter is needed to explain your situation while the correction is pending.
Extended LOA (longer than 5 months)
Immigration rules will not allow you to return using the same SEVIS record after an extended absence. If your leave is longer than one academic term (excluding any eligible vacation term), you will need to request a new SEVIS record and will treated as a new student for immigration purposes. When you are prepared to return to University of Rochester, you will use the New Student Request Form to begin the processing for a new I-20 or DS-2019. Please submit this form and supporting documents to your academic department at least 3 months in advance to allow for processing. You will be required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again and may need to renew your visa stamp before traveling. As a returning student under a new SEVIS record, you will not be eligible for certain immigration benefits right away. More information on Continuing Studies at UR can be found in our information for Incoming Students.