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.

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Beginning 9AM Friday, March 10 through 11 AM Monday, March 13, you will not to be able to submit or upload any ISSO applications (including this one) as we conduct our Compass database migration. Do not worry, you will be able to submit applications again starting 12:00 PM Monday, March 13. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

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Need to Know

  • 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 two - three 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.
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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:

Detailed Steps of the Process
Step 1.

Pay for your courier delivery 

Pay for Your Courier Delivery of your I-20/DS-2019 from University Express Mail Services. Keep your order number as you will need it to submit your documents below.

To create your account and pay for your shipment, review these instructions.

Step 2.

Gather your documents and information

Step 3.

Use our Upload Form to upload the supporting documents as one pdf file

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.

Enter the U.S. and submit the Online SEVIS Report form within 7 days after your arrival

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.

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.