A student should request a leave of absence if he/she needs to travel outside of the USA for an important reason before he/she is eligible to take an official vacation and this travel involves missing classes.
Important: If your request for a leave of absence is approved, your SEVIS record will be terminated (i.e., your I-20 record will be canceled) and you will need a new visa.
Steps to request a leave of absence:
1. Complete the Leave Request form online.
You must complete the Leave Request form before the deadline that is listed on the form (usually, the deadline is 3-4 weeks before you plan to travel).
2. Wait for the ELI to process your form.
Normally, the ELI will begin processing all Leave Request forms during the week after the deadline that was listed on the Leave Request form. This means that it will take us 1-2 weeks to process your travel request.
3. Receive the ELI’s decision about your travel by email.
After we have finished processing your travel form, we will send an email to you.
- If your travel is approved, the email will give you instructions about what to do next (see below).
- If your travel is denied, then we will give you the reason for the denial and information about what you can do to have your travel plans approved.
Steps to return to the U.S.
4. Request a new I-20 form.
You must request a new I-20 form from the ELI. To do this, please download and complete the Leave of Absence I-20 Request Form.
After you leave the U.S., please return this form to the ELI at email@example.com, along with the following documents:
- Proof of financial resources (such as a bank statement or financial guarantee letter)
You must also pay the $35 express mail fee (so that we can send the new I-20 form to you via DHL). Pay this fee now with a credit card using our secure online payment system >
Special note: If you have a family member (wife, husband, or child) who will come with you to the U.S. using an F-2 visa, then you must also submit the Dependent I-20 Request Form. Students who are not traveling with a dependent do not have to complete this form.
Submit these documents to the ELI by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ELI will send a request to OISS to make a new I-20 form for you. It takes 1-2 weeks for the new I-20 form to be ready. When the documents are ready, the new I-20 form will be sent to you by DHL express mail.
5. Obtain a new F-1 visa.
OISS will mail a new initial I-20 form to you, as well as instructions to pay the SEVIS fee (pdf) and instructions for getting a new F-1 student visa (pdf). You must pay the $200 SEVIS fee and get a new F-1 student visa in order to return to the U.S.
6. Contact the ELI Financial Office to request a bill for your next session.
Contact the ELI Financial Office at email@example.com and ask them for a “half-session bill.” Students who plan to miss one session are required to pay one-half of the tuition fees as a deposit for the session when they will return.
Important Note: Students are not permitted to return late from their travels. Any student who tries to return to the ELI later than the return date that was authorized will not be allowed to return to the ELI. Instead, the student will be required to skip a session. This often results in a Leave of Absence and termination of the student’s I-20 form and visa!
Do you have a question about the Leave of Absence policy or procedures? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.