Requesting a Leave of Absence

If you intend to take a break in studies applying for a Leave of Absence will make it easier for you to return to UB.  Learn how to file a request and how it impacts your immigration record.

Why Request a Leave of Absence

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.

Applying for a Leave of Absence

Be sure that you request an appointment with your academic advisor before the application deadline. 

Application Deadline

Although students are permitted to submit a Leave of Absence request up through the last day of classes of the term in which the leave is to begin, if you are currently in F-1 status you must also follow F-1 student reporting and enrollment regulations to receive an Authorized Early Withdrawal SEVIS termination reason.

  • If you submit the Leave of Absence e-form in UB Global before the Add/Drop deadline, you do not need to be enrolled in classes for that term.
  • If you apply for a Leave of Absence after the Add/Drop deadline, you may not resign below full-time until after you have submitted the Leave of Absence e-form in UB Global.

Failure to meet these deadlines will result in a SEVIS termination for 'Failure to Enroll' or "Unauthorized Early Withdrawal'. However, you may still proceed with the Leave of Absence request to preserve your place in your current degree program.

LOAs cannot be approved retroactively

If you miss the deadline to apply, then you will not be eligible for a Leave of Absence.

Processing Your Request

ISS reviews the application, advises you of the immigration implications and submits the application to the Registrar. The Office of the Registrar will decide if your Leave of Absence can be approved. 

If you have registered for classes for the semester during which you will be on a leave, you must drop your classes.  

Remember: Approval for a Leave of Absence does not mean that your classes are automatically dropped.  If you do not drop your classes before the “last day to drop without financial penalty”, you will be required to pay any tuition or fees that you owe.  For more information, visit the Student Accounts' website.

Leave of Absence Approvals

You will 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.

Impact on Immigration Status

It is extremely important that you understand how a Leave of Absence impacts your immigration status.

In most cases, your SEVIS record will be terminated and your F-1 status will end.  SEVIS termination means that you are no longer in F-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.

However, if you are transferring to another U.S. school and have submitted a SEVIS transfer request, or have a Medical Reduced Course Load approval, you are eligible to maintain F-1 status. See additional information below.

Leaving the U.S. Requirement

Yes.  You cannot be inside the U.S. as a student if you are not enrolled in classes.  However, there are three exceptions to this rule:

  1. Students who are approved for a Medical Reduced Course Load and are receiving treatment for their medical condition inside the U.S. are allowed to remain in the U.S. while on a Leave of Absence.  
  2. Students who are approved for a leave of absence from UB, but who transfer to another U.S. school (and are registered full-time at that school) may also remain in the U.S. 
  3. Students who changed their immigration status to a status other than F-1.

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 so anyway, you will be in violation of your F-1 status

How to Return Without a Leave of Absence

If you exceed the maximum time allowed on your leave or are not eligible for a leave of absence you must re-apply for admission before you can return to UB. The process will vary depending on your degree level.

If you are an Undergraduate student:

You must complete the Re-Entry application and receive admission to UB.  Please contact the Office of International Admissions (intadmit@buffalo.edu) 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.

If you are a Graduate Student:

You must contact your academic department.  They will inform you of the procedures necessary to return to UB. 

Returning to UB Early

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. Students wishing to return early from a LOA can email TERM-LIST@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU to have their record updated and enrollment appointment assigned.

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.