Leave of Absence

You may take time off from your academic program. However, you must follow the instruction below and obtain approval from OIP before stop attending classes. Since you are required to maintain full-time study while in the U.S., you must leave the U.S. while on a leave of absence.

Submit a signed Leave of Absence Form to an International Student Advisor at OIP during drop in advising hours.  You must leave the U.S. within 15 days after submitting this form.  Your SEVIS record will be terminated and your current I-20 is no longer valid.  Students who are taking off two consecutive semesters must re-apply for admissions.

F-1 students who plan to take one semester off AND will be physically out of the U.S. for more than 5 months must request new I-20s from OIP in order to return to the U.S. 

  1. Submit a signed Leave of Absence Form to an International Student Advisor at OIP during drop in advising hours.
    The semester you are coming back should be either Spring or Fall semester (No Summer).  Also, you can only return to the U.S. within 30 days of the “First Day of Instruction” indicated on the University Academic Calendar.

    To request a new I-20, email oip@sfsu.edu the following documents.  Include your full name and SF State student ID in your email to OIP.   An F-1 International Student Advisor will review your request and issue a new I-20 within 5 business days. 

    • A signed I-20 Request Form (PDF, 202KB)
    • A signed Financial Affidavit (PDF, 185 KB)
    • A bank letter verifying you or your sponsor(s) have sufficient funds to support your study in the U.S. for at least one academic year.  You can find the minimum amount of funds that you are required to show on the Financial Affidavit
       
  2. Leave the U.S. within 15 days after submitting the Leave of Absence Form. Your SEVIS record will be terminated and your current I-20 is no longer valid.
  3. Request a new I-20:  You can request a new I-20 after your enrollment appointment is assigned in the Student Center.  
  4. Clear all your registration holds and register classes during your enrollment appointment.
  5. After you receive the new I-20, pay $200 I-901 SEVIS fee using the new SEVIS ID number on your I-20.
  6. Apply for a new F-1 visa at an U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country, even if your current F-1 visa may be still valid.
  7. Speak to an International Student Advisor during drop in hours within 30 days of your return date.  Bring your passport, I-94, and I-20 with you.  If you fail to inform OIP your return in a timely manner, your I-20 will be canceled and you will be considered out of status.
  8. You won’t be eligible to apply for any off-campus employment such as OPT, CPT, and Economic Hardship for one academic year upon your return.

F-1 students who will be physically out of the U.S. for less than 5 months must inform OIP to reactivate their SEVIS record before return to the U.S.   Students who need to apply for new F-1 visas must speak to an International Student Advisor as the following procedures may not apply to them.

  1. Submit a signed Leave of Absence Form and your current I-20 to an International Student Advisor at OIP during drop in advising hours.
  2. Leave the U.S. within 15 days after submitting your leave of absence form.  Your SEVIS record will be terminated and your current I-20 is no longer valid.
  3. Check your enrollment appointment in Student Center.  Clear all your registration holds and register for classes during your enrollment appointment.
  4. Inform OIP of your return date at least 60 days before the “First Day of Instruction” indicated on the University Academic Calendar.  You must also provide proof of finance by emailing oip@sfsu.edu a signed Financial Affidavit (PDF, 185 KB) and a bank letter verifying you or your sponsor have sufficient funds to support your study in the U.S. for at least one academic year.  You can find the minimum amount of funds that you are required to show on the Financial Affidavit.  Include your full name and SF State student ID in your email to OIP.
  5. OIP sends a request to U.S. Immigration to reactivate your SEVIS record.  It might take approximately 3 weeks for the request to be approved.
  6. You will be notified by OIP as soon as your SEVIS record is in Active status.  You will be able to return to the U.S.

*If you enter the U.S. on a different visa (ex. Tourist visa) during Leave of Absence, your SEVIS record can’t be reactivated and you will have to follow the procedure for Leave of Absence for more than 5 months.

Remember to complete the following steps before leaving the U.S.:

  1. Withdraw from classes: You can withdraw from all the classes AFTER you meet with an International Student Advisor and obtian approval.  Complete the Withdrawal Petition (current classes or semester - used after drop deadline) or Withdrawal Card (used during first two weeks of current semester).  Submit this form to the Registrar’s counter at One Stop, Student Service Building.
  2. Tuition refund: Complete the Refund Request for Tuition and Fees form.  Submit this form to the Bursar’s counter at One Stop, Student Service Building or first floor of the Administration Building.
  3. Cancel health insurance: Please speak to an International Student Advisor.