A leave of absence is when you take a break from your studies for one semester or more. This normally means you must depart the United States. An exception exists when course withdrawal is recommended by a U.S. physician due to a medical condition.
Withdrawing from Classes
Before withdrawing from classes it is extremely important to obtain advance approval from ISO. This is done by completing the Leave of Absence/Withdrawal Notification e-form in iStart.
You should use this form:
- If you are withdrawing mid-semester during Spring or Fall
- If you will not enroll for a future Fall or Spring semester
Please note that approval to withdrawal will result in the termination of your SEVIS record for the reason "Authorized Early Withdrawal". You must depart the U.S. within 15 days of your SEVIS termination.
Leave of Absence Due to a Medical Condition
If you need to withdraw from courses due to a medical condition, you must receive approval from the ISO before you drop your courses.. This requires a recommendation from a U.S. licensed physician. Learn more about enrollment exceptions.
If approved for a medical leave of absence, you may stay in the United States if you wish. Your SEVIS record will remain active, so you may depart and re-enter the U.S. as needed. Please make sure to inform an ISO advisor of your plans.
Returning to the U.S. After a Leave of Absence
If your SEVIS record was terminated due to a leave of absence, then you cannot return to the U.S. until you have an active SEVIS record. This requires that you work with the ISO well in advance of your return.
Absence of Less Than 5 Months
If you were absent from the U.S. for less than 5 months, then an advisor may be able to request that your SEVIS record be reactivated before you return to the U.S. This would enable you to use your current I-20 and visa (if valid) for entry into the U.S. Reactivation can be requested 60 days prior to the beginning of classes for the next term (fall or spring semester). You must submit the e-form Request for Reactivation on iStart to request reactivation of your SEVIS record before returning. If your SEVIS record is still terminated when you arrive at the port of entry, you may not be permitted to enter the U.S.
Absence of More Than 5 Months
If you were absent from the U.S. for more than 5 months, you will not be able to use your current I-20 for re-entry into the U.S. ISO will create a new SEVIS record for you, and send you a new I-20. This means:
- You will need to submit updated financial documentation to ISO.
- You will need to pay the $200 SEVIS fee again.
- You will need to apply for a new visa stamp, even if you still have a non-expired stamp in your passport.
- You will be limited to entering the U.S. within the 30 days before your I-20 start date.
- You will need to wait a full academic year (one fall and one spring semester) before gaining eligibility for Practical Training (CPT or OPT).
To request a new I-20 after a leave of absence, submit a Request for Reactivation on iStart.
Applying for Re-admission After a Leave of Absence
If you have been absent from WKU for 2 semesters or more, then you are required to apply for re-admission as a returning student.
If you were forced to take a leave of absence due to academic dismissal, then you will need to apply to your academic school for a reinstatement of your academic status.
If you have questions about how your absence will affect your status at WKU, or if you wish to discuss your plans further, you may call the ISO at 270-745-4857 to make an appointment with an advisor, or email us at email@example.com.
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