Leave of Absence, Suspension, or Withdrawal

If you are considering a leave of absence (LOA) or withdrawing, please speak with us in advance to see how it will affect your immigration status and employment eligibility when you return.

If you have been suspended from your academic program, please speak with us about the effect on your immigration status.

Applying Online
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Before You Apply

  • Your current F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record will be terminated after the official notification, and you will have to leave the U.S. in 15 days.
  • Your current I-20 or DS-2019 form will no longer be valid and may not be used for future travel to the U.S. but should be kept for your records.

You’ll need to apply for a new I-20 or DS-2019 form 2-3 months in advance of returning to resume your full-time studies. This will be created in a new SEVIS record and you will need to pay a new SEVIS fee.

An F-1 student returning from a leave must be enrolled for two consecutive full-time semesters before being eligible for Practical Training authorization.

Medical leaves and non-medical withdrawals are treated differently for maintaining insurance coverage. Learn more from Columbia Health.

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If a leave of absence, suspension, or withdrawal is necessary, complete the following steps:

Steps to apply for a leave of absence, suspension, or withdrawal
Step 1.

Have the absence approved by your school, department, or academic advisor

A LOA, suspension or withdrawal must originate or be approved by your school.

Step 2.

Notify us for proper and timely advice

We need to know the terms and conditions. If you received your approval of the LOA from your school through an email, letter, or form, please forward it to us.

Step 3.

Leave the U.S.

Leave within 15 days of your leave being approved.

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Returning From a Leave

To request a new I-20/DS-2019 to return to Columbia after a leave, complete the following steps:

Step 1.

Gather your documents and information

Step 2.

Login to Compass with your UNI and password to submit your application

Please click on the appropriate link below:

Not sure of your campus? Check our campus school list.
Need help using Compass? Learn more on our Compass User Guide.


We will contact you 

Allow up to 2 weeks for us to review your application.

  • F-1: If your request is approved, we will email your new digital initial I-20 form for you to print with additional instructions. 
  • J-1: We will notify you by email when your new initial  DS-2019 is ready to be shipped.
Step 4.

Pay a new SEVIS fee

Only do this after you receive the new I-20/DS-2019 because you need the new SEVIS number.

Step 5.

Apply for a new F-1/J-1 entry visa if applicable

Apply for a new visa if your current visa has expired.

Step 6.

Submit the Online SEVIS Report form within 7 days after your arrival

Submit this form within 7 days after your arrival. Enter the U.S. no more than 30 days in advance of your start date.

Although this is not your first time at Columbia, reporting this arrival is necessary to activate your new SEVIS record.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes, you may make short, temporary visits but not in F or J status. You would have to come in B-2 visitor status or with a visa waiver (ESTA) if you qualify.

No. Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT) are directly linked to your student status. If you have not yet graduated, you need to be enrolled full-time to be eligible for part-time work on or off-campus.

If the purpose of your leave is to pursue employment in the United States you would need to be able to change to a different visa status that supports employment.

Speak with one of our advisers before you finalize your plans.

If you have an unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa, you may continue to use it with your newly-issued I-20/DS-2019. 

No. The OPT clock is reset. Once you resume your studies with a new SEVIS record and a new I-20, you will not be eligible for practical training until you have completed one academic year (2 semesters) in F-1 status.  Be aware that if you only have one semester left to complete your program, you will not be eligible for post-completion OPT.

Please contact us for additional guidance.

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