Leave of Absence
IMPORTANT: Students taking Leave of Absence should meet with their international student advisor to discuss the impact of the leave on their F-1/J-1 immigration status.
A student granted a Leave of Absence is formally withdrawn from the graduate program and is NOT considered an enrolled student. A Leave of Absence is granted by the Graduate School on the recommendation of the departmental director of graduate studies. The status may be granted up to a year at any time to students in good standing. For further information about a Leave of Absence, please refer to the Graduate School website and the Graduate School Announcement.
Impact of Leave of Absence on F-1/J-1 immigration status
If you take a Leave of Absence, because you are no longer an enrolled student, your F-1/J-1 status ends and your SEVIS record will be terminated for the reason noted as “authorized early withdrawal”. Unless you change to another immigration category, you can NOT remain in the United States. Once your SEVIS record is terminated for “authorized early withdrawal”, you must leave the U.S. within 15 days.
Returning from Leave of Absence
Once you are ready to come back to resume your program, please first contact your department. They will initiate the procedure with the Graduate School. The Graduate School will notify the Davis International Center (Davis IC) of your return.
Please be advised that it is your responsibility to initiate your return from Leave of Absence. The procedure starts at your department, which you should contact first. The Davis IC can not start processing your new I-20/DS-2019 unless we have confirmation from the Graduate School of your re-enrollment and financial documentation.
IN order for the Davis IC to issue you a new I-20/DS-2019, you will need to show sufficient proof of financial support. If you will not receive funding from Princeton, or if your funding from Princeton does not meet minimum requirements, you will need to provide financial additional documentation.
• You will be issued a new “initial attendance” I-20/DS-2019. The program start date on the document will not be the date when you started your program at Princeton, but rather the start date of the semester in which you are coming back.
• The Davis IC will mail the I-20 to the address that you provide. Be advised that we use regular mail only and, if you prefer some other form of mailing, you will need to either pay it yourself or make arrangements with your department.
• You will need to apply for a new F-1/J-1 visa, even if your current visa stamp in your passport has not expired. Since your previous F1/J-1 status ended, your current visa has been cancelled.
• You will need to pay the $200 SEVIS Fee. Since you will be issued an initial attendance I-20/DS-2019, a new SEVIS record will be created for you and you will be assigned a new SEVIS number. The fee that you might have paid in the past was associated with your terminated record.
• You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to your program start date.
• After you arrive in the U.S., you will MUST report to the Davis IC within 15 days of your I-20/DS-2019 start date. Entering the U.S., by itself, does not activate your SEVIS record. Your new SEVIS record will be in INITIAL status and it must be changed to ACTIVE. The record can only be activated after you register in SCORE and report to the Davis IC.
• The Optional Practical Training (OPT) clock starts again. After returning from a Leave of Absence, in order to be eligible for OPT, you must be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year. If you are near the end of your program (i.e., if you have one semester left to complete your studies) when you return from a Leave of Absence, you will NOT be eligible for OPT.