F-1: Taking a Leave of Absence

If you (as an F-1 Student) need to take a leave of absence from your academic program, you should:

  1. Before your leave is officially recorded by your department or school, contact your ISSS advisor to discuss your plans.
  2. Contact your academic department/program. Your department/program will provide you with instructions on how to request a leave from the university.
  3. Complete the Leave of Absence e-form found under the General Student Services tab in ISSS Link.
  • You must complete the Leave of Absence e-form prior to the first day of classes or prior to dropping your courses (if taking a leave mid-semester).
  • By completing the Leave of Absence e-form in a timely manner ISSS will provide you with an "Authorized Early Withdrawal” in SEVIS which doesn’t leave a negative mark on your immigration record. If you fail to complete the e-form in a timely manner, ISSS is required to close your SEVIS record for “Failure to Enroll” or "Unauthorized Withdrawal" which can cause problems in the future when you plan to return to continue your studies or if you need to apply for a new visa or other immigration benefits in the future.  
  • Note: If you are a J-1 Student, information contained on this page does not apply to you.  Please contact your ISSS advisor at least 30 days before taking a leave.

Length of time spent outside the US

Less than 5 months

  • If you take a leave of absence (except for reasons such as an exclusion, probation, conduct matters, etc.) and spend fewer than 5 months outside the United States (in between your full-time enrollment at Emory), your ISSS advisor may submit a request to DHS to reactivate your SEVIS record after you're readmitted to your academic program.
  • DHS will deny reactivation of your previous SEVIS record if the gap between the date you last attended classes and the start date of next semester when you will resume classes is more than 5 months. 
  • DHS processing times could be weeks or months, so plan ahead. You will not have to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again, and can use a valid F-1 visa for requesting re-entry to the US.
  • If you are taking a leave starting fall, carefully read the summer enrollment requirements as DHS will deny SEVIS record reactivation requests if the student was last enrolled in May and wants to return in following January even if the length of time spent outside the US was less than 5 months.  

More than 5 months

  • If you're outside the US for 5 months or more, your ISSS advisor has to create a new SEVIS record when you wish to return. 
  • You'll need to provide new financial documentation to your ISSS advisor before the new I-20 is issued.
  • You'll need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again and possibly apply for a new F-1 visa even if you current F-1 visa will be valid at the time of your return to Emory. ISSS recommends that you contact your preferred US consulate to determine if you will be required to apply for a new F-1 visa after ISSS has created a new SEVIS record for you and has issued you a new I-20. Whether or not you will need a new F-1 visa is up to the discretion of the consulate where you apply for the visa. 
  • Important: If you take a leave of absence, you will lose any time you had previously accrued toward the requirement for practical training.
    • Per practical training regulations, F-1 students must be enrolled for a full academic year (one fall term and one spring term) before they are eligible for practical training. The summer term does not count towards the one academic year requirement. 
    • For example, students who take a leave for a fall semester must be enrolled full-time in F-1 status for one spring term and the following fall before they are eligible to apply for CPT or OPT. 
    • Note: there are limited exceptions to this regulation for graduate students requesting CPT.

Returning from leave

First, you'll need to be readmitted to your program by the dean of your school. After that:

  1. ISSS will send you an email with a link to the Returning From Leave of Absence e-form in ISSS Link. Fill out the e-form and upload scanned copies of the following:
    1. The photo ID page from your passport
    2. An updated financial certificate (available from your school)
    3. A new letter from your financial sponsor's bank verifying that there are sufficient funds to cover all your expenses
  2. Once we receive all the required documents, an ISSS advisor will issue your new form I-20 or DS-2019 and send it to you via express mail.
  3. Enter the US in F-1 status no more than 30 days prior to your new I-20 start date.
  4. Log in to ISSS Link to complete the immigration check-in process and upload copies of all your immigration documents
  5. Once you arrive on campus, attend the ISSS immigration session during orientation.

School contacts

School Contact Other instructions
Emory College of Arts & Sciences Margaret Burks or Charrie Collins
Office of Undergraduate Education
Complete the College's request for readmission form (PDF).
Goizueta Business School BBA program Anna Gibbons Director of BBA International Programs Complete Goizueta's leave of absence departure request form (PDF).
Goizueta Business School graduate programs Taking a leave: Brian Mitchell
Associate Dean, Full-Time MBA Program
Returning: Amy Bentley
MBA Program Office
Goizueta leave of absence policy >>
Candler School of Theology Shelly Hart
Director of Academic Administration and Registrar
Candler academic policies and procedures >>
Laney Graduate School

Tamika Hairston
Associate Director, Enrollment Processes, Records and Notary

Contact your department’s director of graduate studiesMore info >>
School of Law registrar@law.emory.edu School of Law Request for Leave form>>
School of Medicine Mary Kaye Garcia
Associate Director, Registration and Student Affairs
Students should write a letter requesting leave and contact Mary Kaye Garcia. More info >>
Rollins School of Public Health Assistant Directors of Academic Programs Contact your department's assistant directors of academic programs.
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Sabrena Brown
Director of Registration
School of Nursing Request for Leave of Absence form (PDF)