Leave of Absence from the USA: Graduate Students

View most recent Leave of Absence from the U.S. webinar recording here!

Students who will take a leave of absence from UC San Diego for one or more quarters are required to obtain permission from the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) prior to their proposed leave. This permission from ISPO is called a “Leave of Absence from the USA.” All students requesting a Leave of Absence from the USA will have their SEVIS Records Terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. You must be outside of the USA during the entirety of your approved Leave of Absence from the USA. Failure to report a leave or failure to be physically outside of the USA during your leave will have a negative impact on your immigration status.

What is a Leave of Absence from the USA?

International students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to be enrolled in at least 12 units every quarter at UC San Diego. If you do not plan to be enrolled at all for a quarter or more during your program at UC San Diego, you must apply with ISPO and:

  • Undergraduate students: Withdrawal with your college
  • Graduate students: Leave of Absence with Graduate Divison
PLEASE NOTE: International students on approved withdrawal/leaves of absence must be physically OUTSIDE of the USA for the duration of their withdrawal/leave. While on withdrawal/leave status, a student may not be employed by UCSD, UCSD Extension, or UCSD Medical Center or hold a fellowship, traineeship, or similar appointment administered by the University. Students may not use any University facilities or place demands on faculty.

Application Requirements

International graduate students must meet with an advisor during walk-in hours prior to their proposed leave and submit the following to ISPO in order to document their leave of absence and departure from the USA:

  • ISPO Leave of Absence from the USA Form
  • Copy of airline ticket or flight itinerary showing planned departure date. You must depart the USA within 15 days of submitting the LOA Form or before the start of the next quarter (whichever is sooner).

You should also meet with your college or department advisor to discuss the impact of your proposed leave on your program of study.

Leave of Absence from the USA for LESS than five months

To qualify for a Leave of Absence for Less than 5 Months, students must resume studies within five months of departure from the USA. Therefore, students who are taking a Leave of Absence for Spring quarter must return for Summer Session to be eligible for the record reactivation.

J-1 students only: Contact ISPO or your visa sponsor (e.g., Fulbright, LASPAU, etc.) regarding your leave of absence.

F-1 students only: When we process your Leave of Absence, if you are taking a leave for less than five months**, your SEVIS record will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. Before returning to the USA, you must submit an I-20 Request Form, requesting a SEVP Data Fix to change your SEVIS Record from Terminated to Active. This I-20 Request Form must be submitted 60 days before your planned return. If you do not submit a timely I-20 Request Form, you are at risk of delaying the SEVP Data Fix. Without an approved SEVP Data Fix to change your SEVIS Record from Terminated to Active, you will not be permitted back into the USA. Once your record is changed to Active, we will e-mail you a confirmation and you may return to the USA using the same I-20. Please make sure that you have a valid travel signature and required travel documents for your reentry to the USA.

Quarter of Departure for
  LESS than 5 Month LOA:

Quarter of Return
  from LESS than 5 Month LOA:

Must Submit I-20   Request (SEVP Data Fix Request) to ISPO by:

Winter 2017

Spring 2017
   (State Date: March 30, 2017)

January 19, 2 017 - February 2, 2017

Spring 2017

Summer 2017
  (Summer Session 1 Start Date: July 3, 2017 OR Summer Session 2 Start Date: August 7, 2017)

May 1, 2017 - June 1, 2017

**The 5 months are calculated from the date you depart the US to the program start date of the quarter you intend to return for.

Leave of Absence from the USA for MORE than five months

If you are taking a leave for more than five months, your SEVIS Record will be Terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal and you may not return to the USA using your current SEVIS I-20/DS-2019. You will need to apply for a new I-20 or DS-2019 before you return to the USA. This new I-20/DS-2019 will have a new SEVIS Number (you will need to pay another SEVIS Fee) and you will need to contact the American Embassy to see if you need to apply for a new US Visa. Each time you are on a new SEVIS record, you must complete a full academic year (3 quarters) before you are eligible to apply for work authorization (i.e. CPT or OPT.)

Steps for readmission to UC San Diego and to the USA:

  • Apply for readmission to UC San Diego if required or obtain a letter from your college or department indicating their approval to resume your program of study
  • 3 months prior to the start of your reentry quarter at UC San Diego, request a new I-20 or new DS-2019
  • Sign up for express shipping so we can ship your documents to you via express mail 

Once you have received your new documents:

  • Pay the SEVIS Fee upon receipt of your new I-20 or DS-2019.  SEVIS fee instructions will be included with your new document.  You can pay the SEVIS fee online.
  • Apply for a new US visa (if required)

You must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019, passport and F-1 or J-1 visa to reenter the USA.  Use the new UC San Diego I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for the F-1 or J-1 visa. For more information about visa application requirements, please visit the website for the nearest US embassy or consulate.  Upon reentry into the US, you must check-in at the International Students & Programs Office.

Once you are issued a new I-20 or DS-2019, you:

  • May not enter the US in F-1 status earlier than 30 days before start date on I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Must be enrolled for one full academic year to be eligible for F-1 Curricular Practical Training.
  • Must check-in to the International Center and fulfill orientation requirement upon return to the USA.