LEAVE OF ABSENCE
F-1 status is based on full-time student enrollment. If you are not attending full-time courses, you must notify MTEC immediately.
If you fail to notify MTEC, your I-20 F-1 will be terminated for "Failure to Enroll."
Summer is a vacation: you are not expected to enroll unless your course requires summer classes for missed coursework.
- F-1 Students: If you take a leave of absence you will not be eligible for CPT until all core coursework is completed. All missed coursework will need to be taken in the summer program.
- If your I-20 is terminated, you cannot remain in the U.S. during your leave. See below for more information.
- If you have a medical reason that prevents you from attending class, you can obtain reduced course load authorization (no more than one semester). To Apply for Medical Leave: Submit a letter of request, along with documentation from a licensed medical doctor, stating that you are not able to attend classes or not able to attend classes full-time. The documentation does not have to contain a diagnosis or details of your condition or illness. Reduced course load authorization does not affect your eligibility for CPT.
Leave of Absence: (No More than Three Months)
There is no true "leave of absence" for immigration purposes. Your F-1 visa is based on full-time attendance. However, USCIS allows students to take up to three months away from schooling without termination of I-20.
- Submit a signed letter of request for a leave of absence.
- Submit supporting documentation.
Extended Leave of Absence: (Longer than Three Months but Fewer than Five Months)
- Submit a signed letter of request for an extended leave of absence. After submitting this form, your SEVIS record will be terminated for "Authorized Early Withdrawal," which will not adversely affect your immigration record. The exact date of the termination will be based on the date you indicate on this form.
- Depart the country within 15 days of the termination date (for "Authorized Early Withdrawal" only). You cannot be in the U.S. with a terminated record. If you are terminated for another reason, such as a suspension or unauthorized employment, you do not have a grace period to leave, and you must depart immediately.
Returning from an Extended Leave of Absence Less than Five Months:
If the gap in your enrollment has been fewer than five months, MTEC can request that your F-1 status is reactivated, which allows you to maintain your CPT eligibility and use the same I-20 and visa (if not expired). Note that MTEC can only request that your record is reactivated. USCIS approves the actual reactivation and often requires additional documentation from the school and the student to make the change. If your leave is for fewer than five months, make sure to:
- Contact MTEC by email at least one month before you plan to return to school. After the request is made, MTEC will confirm once your I-20 has been activated. Processing times vary and can take from 1-4 weeks.
- Be sure you have a valid travel signature on page 2 of your I-20.
- Re-enter the U.S. with all required travel documents, including a valid F-1 visa after your record is set back to active. Note: MTEC cannot guarantee when your record will be active. You will not be able to enter the U.S. unless your record is active.
F-1 Students Returning from an Extended Leave of More than Five Months:
- Contact MTEC three months before you plan to return to the school.
- Submit new financial statement.
- Pay the new SEVIS Fee
- Obtain new F-1 visa
- Make sure you arrive in the US no more than 30 days before the first day of classes.