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Maintaining your visa status.

Leave of Absence (LOA)

SDSU allows degree-seeking students to take a Leave of Absence (LOA) for up to 4 semesters. However, as a student on an F or J visa, you cannot maintain your immigration status while taking a LOA. As the options and procedures below apply to different situations, if you have a question after reading this webpage, please contact the ISC.


How to take a leave of absence

If you would like to take a leave of absence, you must:

  1. Schedule an appointment to meet with one of the ISC Advisors before you depart the U.S. to discuss the Leave of Absence.
  2. Complete the ISC's online Leave of Absence Request Form before the new semester begins.
    • For students who fail to notify the ISC that they are taking a leave of absence, their SEVIS immigration record will be terminated and the I-20 will become invalid.
  3. Notify the SDSU Registrar's Office of the Academic Leave of Absence by "applying" for the Leave of Absence in your SDSU Webportal for the semester that you will not take any SDSU classes.
    • If you will take 1 or more classes in your home country, then this step is not necessary.
    • If you are not able to "apply" for a Leave of Absence in your Webportal, refer to the SDSU General Catalog (Part 6, University Policies) or contact the Office of the Registrar for eligibility requirements. 

Options for leave of absence: I-20 procedures

You have several options for taking a leave of absence, and they involve different I-20 procedures.

  • If you are leaving the U.S. and your absence will be less than 5 months (calculated from the date you depart the U.S. and the date you return to the U.S.), you may use the same I-20 when returning to SDSU if:
    • You have an approved leave of absence from the ISC, and
    • The I-20 has a travel signature less than 1 year old when you re-enter the U.S.
Re-entry: Before you can re-enter the U.S., the ISC will need to request that your SEVIS record be reactivated. This reactivation can only be requested within 60 days of the next semester's start date. Please keep this in mind, and inform the ISC ahead of time of your plans to return to SDSU. The final decision for reactivation is determined by SEVP.
  • If you are leaving the U.S. and your absence will be more than 5 months (calculated from the date you depart the U.S. and the date you return to the U.S.), the ISC will end your SEVIS immigration record and you must be issued a new initial I-20 to re-enter the U.S. You must submit a new financial statement to the ISC before you can get a new I-20 form, and then pay the SEVIS fee for the new I-20.
    • CPT/OPT: Students returning from a leave of absence of more than 5 months will not be eligible for CPT and OPT until they have been enrolled for an additional academic year after re-entering the U.S.
  • If you are on an SDSU-approved study abroad program, you are considered to be enrolled at SDSU and may use your same I-20 when re-entering the U.S., as long as the travel signature is less than 1 year old upon re-entry to the U.S. 
    • CPT/OPT: If you are planning to graduate after your study abroad program, it is important that you discuss your OPT and CPT options with an ISC advisor before leaving the U.S.

Medical LOA

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from being able to take courses, you may apply for a Medical Leave of Absence, which would allow you to maintain your visa status and remain in the U.S. during the leave. Please consult with an ISC advisor if you believe this applies to you.