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.

  1. Email a signed Leave of Absence Form (PDF, 298KB) to f1@sfsu.edu from your SF State email account.  We accept digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form.  See deadline to submit LOA.
  2. You will receive a confirmation email from OIP within 5 business days.
  3. 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  Your SEVIS record will be terminated and your current I-20 is no longer valid.  
  4. 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. 

Step 1: Request a leave of absence:

  1. Email a signed Leave of Absence Form (PDF, 298KB) to f1@sfsu.edu from your SF State email account.  We accept digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form.  See deadline to submit LOA.
  2. You will receive a confirmation email from OIP within 5 business days.
  3. 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  Your SEVIS record will be terminated and your current I-20 is no longer valid.  

Step 2: Request a new I-20

You can request a new I-20 after your enrollment appointment is assigned in the Student Center.  To request a new I-20, email the following documents to f1@sfsu.edu from your SF State email account.  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. 

  1. A signed I-20 Request Form   (PDF, 129 KB)
  2. A signed Financial Affidavit  (PDF, 185 KB)
  3. 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.  Your sponsor(s) can either sign the "4. Sponsor Agreement" section of the Financial Affidavit or provide a signed Sponsor's letter .  See template (Microsoft Word, 12.1KB)

Step 3: Register for classes

You can register for classes while waiting for the I-20.

  1. Clear all your registration holds and register classes during your enrollment appointment.
  2. After you receive the new I-20, pay $350 I-901 SEVIS fee using the new SEVIS ID number on your I-20.
  3. Apply for a new F-1 visa at an U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country if your current F-1 visa has expired.

Step 4: Report your return

Email f1@sfsu,edu when you return to the U.S.  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.

What You Need to Know

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
F-1 students who meet the following conditions may request their terminated I-20 to be reactivated:
  • You will be physically out of the U.S. for less than 5 months, and 
  • The gap between the last day of attendance and first day of next semester.  
If you meet the above conditions, you must inform OIP to reactivate their SEVIS record before return to the U.S.   Students who have expired F-1 visa must provide OIP this information because the following procedures may not apply to them.

Here are two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Take the entire semester off/no plan to enroll

John completes a full-time study in Spring 2019 and decides to take the Fall 2019 semester off.  He did not enroll in any classes in Fall 2019.  He left the U.S. on August 20, 2019, and would return to the U.S. on December 29, 2019.  
 
John is not eligible to request his SEVIS record to be reactivated.  His last day of attendance in Spring 2019 was May 22, 2019 (Last day of finals), and the first day of Spring 2020 was  January 27, 2020.  The gap between May 22, 2019, and January 27, 2020, is greater than 5 months.  
 
To return for Spring 2020, John must contact OIP and receive an initial I-20 with a brand new SEVIS ID number.  John will also need to pay the SEVIS fee again.  He will not need to apply for a new F-1 visa if his current F-1 visa stamp in the passport is valid.
 

Scenario 2: Enroll full time and withdraw from school in the middle of the semester

John enrolled full time in Fall 2019.  He had to leave the U.S. in the middle of Fall 2019.  He withdrew from all the classes on October 2, submitted a signed of leave of absence form on October 3, and left the U.S. on October 8.  He planned to return to the U.S. on December 29, 2019 to continue his study in Spring 2020.  
 
John is eligible to request his SEVIS record to be reactivated.  He met both conditions: he was not out of the U.S. for more than 5 months and the gap between his last day of attendance in Fall 2019 was October 2 (The day he withdrew from Fall 2019), and the first day of Spring 2020 was  January 27, 2020, is less than five months.  
 
To return for Spring 2020, John must contact OIP at least 60 days before December 29, 2019 (his planned return date) and following instructions from the F-1 international student advisors. 
 

Here are the steps to request a leave of absence

Step 1: Request a leave of absence:

  1. Email a signed Leave of Absence Form   (PDF, 298KB) to f1@sfsu.edu from your SF State email account.  We accept digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form.  See deadline to submit LOA.
  2. You will receive a confirmation email from OIP within 5 business days.
  3. 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.  

Step 2: Register for classes

  1. Check your enrollment appointment in Student Center. 
  2. Clear all your registration holds and register for classes during your enrollment appointment.

Step 3: Request your SEVIS record to be set back to "Active" status

  1. Inform OIP of your return date at least 60 days before the “First Day of Instruction” indicated on the University Academic Calendar.  
  2. Email 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 to f1@sfsu.edu.  You can find the minimum amount of funds that you are required to show on the Financial Affidavit.  We accept digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form.  Include your full name and SF State student ID in your email to OIP.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. with your I-20

*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.

Step 4: Report your return

Email f1@sfsu,edu when you return to the U.S.  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.

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

Withdraw from classes

You can withdraw from all the classes AFTER you meet with an F-1 international student advisor and obtain 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.

Tuition refund (if eligible)

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.  Only request refund AFTER you withdraw from all the classes.

Cancel health insurance

Contact Relation's customer service at at csseligibilityteam@relationinsurance.com and request a refund (only if you haven't made any claims).  Only request refund AFTER you withdraw from all the classes.

Last updated: August 2020

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