Leave of Absence from Academic Program

Students must inform the ISA at least 3 weeks in advance of requesting a leave of absence. Discuss with the academic advisor the issues prompting the need for a leave of absence. While on leave of absence F-1 students may not remain in the U.S. as it is a violation of status, and the only exception to this rule is due to medical conditions, which must be documented by a U.S. medical doctor.

Students requesting a leave of absence from academic studies must obtain and complete the Departure From University Form.
  1. Fill in the appropriate start and return dates on the leave of absence form. This will determine whether you will need a new SEVIS record or not. Review the below 5-month rule. 
  2. Provide copy of official withdrawal form and submit to ISA at least three weeks before your leave begins. Students must leave the U.S. within 15 days after filing for leave of absence. 
  3. If conducting thesis or dissertation research submit academic advisor written authorization to ISSS.
  4. Meet with the ISA to discuss legal status, return date, travel signature and visa. 

THE FIVE-MONTH RULE: 
Leave of absence from academic program for less than five months:
Students that have been on a leave of absences for less than 5 months may re-enter the U.S. with the same I-20 and are not required to pay the SEVIS fee. Re-enter with the following documents:
  1. I-20 with a current travel signature on page 3 
  2. Valid F-1visa in your passport 
  3. Valid passport 

Leave of absence from academic program for more than five months: 
  • Student will be required to obtain a new SEVIS I-20 with a new SEVIS number when the leave of absence exceeds five months. 
  • Leave of absences beginning in the spring with an anticipated return to St. Thomas the following fall semester, will be out of the country for a period of more than five months. In this case the current SEVIS record will be terminated and a new SEVIS I-20 must be issued. Always retain your SEVIS I-20 for record keeping. 

RETURNING TO THE US: 
Contact the ISA when you plan to return to the U.S. and request a new SEVIS I-20. The new form will identify you as being in initial attendance at St. Thomas with a new program start date. You will have a new SEVIS I-20 number, and record. This means that your F-1 status starts again.
  • You will not be eligible to apply for off-campus employment until you have completed/maintained 9 months of full time study. 
  • Your previous F-1 status may not be considered. 

OBTAINING A NEW SEVIS I-20: 
If your leave is more than 5 months you will need to re-apply for admission and will be required to:
  • Students must complete the required financial documentation forms and guarantee the amount of money shown on the SEVIS I-20. 
  • Financial documentation forms may be obtained from the Office of Admission. 
  • Mail or fax the form to the Office of Admissions and they will process your re-admission and request the new SEVIS I-20. 
  • The SEVIS I-20 will be mailed by express airmail to your foreign address. 
  • If you need to apply for a visa, you must do so prior entering the U.S. 
  • If you already have a valid F-1 visa, you do not need to apply for another one. 

SEVIS FEE INFORMATION:
    1. I-94 departure card (small white card in your passport) 
    2. Passport 
    3. Proof of registration for classes. 

SEVIS REGISTRATION: 
  • All F-1 students must be registered in SEVIS within the first fifteen days of the start of the semester. 
  • If your record is not registered in SEVIS before the deadline, the record will automatically terminate and you will be required to leave the U.S. or apply for reinstatement. 

The ISA will register your SEVIS record only if you have met each of the following requirements: 
  1. Checked in with the ISA and provided the appropriate documentation. 
  2. Provided proof that you have registered for a full course of study: Undergraduates 12 credits, Graduates 6 credits, Law 12 credits and LLM 6 credits. 
  3. Updated your local address through MyBobcat if you recently moved. 

LOCAL ADDRESS: 
  • Local address must be a residential street address not a Post Office Box.