If you intend to return to UB in the future, applying for a Leave of Absence will make it easier for you to return to UB. If you are approved for a Leave of Absence, you will not need to reapply to UB since your Leave of Absence will preserve your place in your current degree program. The Leave of Absence will also ensure that your UB email address is active during your leave.
Undergraduate students are allowed a maximum of four semesters of approved leave during their degree program.
Graduate student leaves are granted for a maximum of one year, but may be extended for up to one additional year if circumstances warrant it.
If you miss the deadline to apply, then you will not be eligible for a Leave of Absence.
It is extremely important that you understand how a Leave of Absence impacts your immigration status, and that your SEVIS record will be terminated while you are on your leave.
While on a leave of absence, you are no longer enrolled at UB and you must be outside the U.S. This means that you cannot maintain your F-1 status and your SEVIS record must be terminated. Your SEVIS record will be terminated after you depart the U.S.
SEVIS termination means that you are no longer in F-1/J-1 status and cannot use your UB I-20 to re-enter the U.S. until you complete the process to return from a leave of absence. This process to return to the U.S. in F-1/J-1 status is described in more detail below.
If you are outside the U.S. for more than 5 months, you will be issued an "initial I-20" to return to the U.S. after your leave. An "initial I-20" resets the F-1 eligibility "clock" which means that you must complete one full year (two full academic semesters) before you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training.
Yes. You cannot be inside the U.S. as a student if you are not enrolled in classes. However, there are four exceptions to this rule:
If you do not meet one of the above exceptions, you cannot remain in the U.S. while on a Leave of Absence. If you do, you will be in violation of your F-1 status and will accrue unlawful presence. For that reason, you must provide your date of departure and date of re-entry before ISS can issue you a new I-20 or re-activate your SEVIS record.
Contact ISS 4-5 months before you plan to return to the U.S. We will review your situation to determine if you are eligible for a SEVIS re-activation or if an initial I-20 is required. We will also provide you with a list of the documents required for us to process your return to UB.
A SEVIS re-activation is only possible if you were outside the U.S. for no more than five months. The five months is counted starting the day after the last date you attended classes and ending on the first day of classes of the semester in which you will return.
If you were outside the U.S. for more than 5 months, you will need an initial I-20 to return. You will also be required to pay the SEVIS Fee, and may need a new U.S. visa. Most students will need an "initial" I-20.
Do not attempt to re-enter the U.S. before completing the re-entry process with ISS. If you do, you will be denied entry to the U.S.
Before you can return to UB, you must re-apply for admission. The process will vary depending on your degree level.
You must complete the Re-Entry application and receive admission to UB. Please contact the Office of International Admissions (email@example.com) to request information on Re-entry. If you are re-admitted to UB, the Office of International Admissions will issue you a new I-20. ISS is not involved in the re-admission process and will not issue you a new I-20 in this case.
You must contact your academic department. They will inform you of the procedures necessary to return to UB.
You may not return to the U.S. during a semester in which you are not enrolled. However, if, for example, you are approved for a 3-semester Leave of Absence and decide to return to UB after only one semester outside the U.S., this will only be possible if there is sufficient time to reissue your I-20 and for you to book your flight, renew your U.S. visa (if needed), etc. Please discuss your plans with an International Student Advisor, who will review your plans and determine if there is enough time for you to return.
You will receive an email from ISS when your Leave of Absence e-form was reviewed. You will also receive an email from the Office of the Registrar if your request has been approved or if there is a problem with your application. If you do not receive an email from the Office of the Registrar, you may contact ISS to find out if your Leave of Absence has been approved.