Leave of Absence

If you decide to request a temporary leave but intend to return to SJSU in the future, submitting a Leave Request form will ensure an easy return process. You will not need to re-apply to SJSU since your Leave Request form will preserve your place within your degree program. For more information please visit www.sjsu.edu/registrar/docs/leave_request.pdf

Any international student planning to leave for one or more semesters must secure approval from the International Student Advising (ISA) department. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations require F-1 visa students to leave the U.S. during the academic year while on a Leave of Absence from the school that issued the I-20.


Requesting a Leave of Absence

International Students (in F1 status), requesting a Leave of Absence must complete a Leave of Absence Petition. Once a Leave of Absence Petition has been approved, students must be prepared to depart the U.S. immediately. Your SEVIS will be terminated on your departure date. Please meet with an International Student Advising (ISA) advisor to learn more about requests for Leave of Absence.


Returning from a Leave of Absence of Less than 5 Months

  1. You will be asked to confirm that you have been outside the U.S. for no more than five months. The five month period is designated by your date of departure from the U.S. and ends on the start date of your first day of class. There cannot be more than 5 months between your date of departure and the start date of the semester in which you will return.

  2. Contact the International Student Advising (ISA) department via email 2-3 months before you plan to return to SJSU to inform us that you will return from your Leave of Absence. Include the following in your email:

    1. Date of departure from the U.S. and the date you intend to return. The process to re-activate your SEVIS record can take several days to complete. We recommend that you plan to arrive no earlier than 2 weeks before the start date of the new semester.

      Note: You may not re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status during a semester in which you are not enrolled.

    2. Your flight itinerary verifying the date of your stated arrival.

    3. Completed I-20 Request Form (pdf).

    4. Expiration date of the signature on page 3 of your I-20. The signature is only valid for one year. If the signature will be more than one year old on the day you plan to return, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. Please inform the International Student Advising (ISA) staff if your I-20 signature will expire before your return date.
    Upon receipt of all the information listed above, we will make a request to re-activate your SEVIS record. Reactivation requests can ONLY be made 60 days in advance of the semester start date. You will be notified via email once your SEVIS record has been reactivated.

    Please be aware that reactivation of the SEVIS record can sometimes be a lengthy process.

    You must check in with the International Student Advising (ISA) department within one week of your arrival. Bring your I-20 along with a copy of your U.S. visa stamp and admission stamp.

    Please do not attempt to return to the United States until you have been notified that your SEVIS record is active. You may be denied Re-entry.


Process When Returning from a Leave of Absence of 5 Months or More

  1. Confirm that you have been outside the U.S. for more than five months. Calculate the five month period from your date of departure from the U.S. and end on the first day of the start of classes. There must be more than 5 months between your date of departure and the start of the semester in which you will return.

  2. Email International Student Advising (ISA) 2-3 months before you plan to return from your Leave of Absence. Tell us your date of departure from the U.S. and the date you intend to return. Note: You may not re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status during a semester in which you are not enrolled. The earliest you can re-enter the U.S. to resume studies is 30 days before the start of classes.

  3. Before returning to the U.S., you must receive a new I-20. To request the new I-20, please provide the following:

    1. New financial documentation showing that you can cover the costs of your 1-year education at SJSU.

    2. CompleteI-20 Request Form (pdf).

    3. Copy of the biographic page of your passport.

    4. Information regarding where we should mail your I-20 and how you would like it mailed. You may choose an express courier to track your package or request that a friend collect your I-20. To have your I-20 sent via express courier, you must purchase a pre-paid shipping label.
    *After we have received all the documents listed above, it will take 2-3 weeks to create and provide your new I-20 via mail.

  4. Once you have received your new I-20 you must:

    1. Pay the SEVIS Fee. More information on how to pay the fee can be found here: https://fmjfee.com/i901fee/desktop/students/formSelection.htm

    2. Apply for a new F-1 visa stamp.

    3. Contact your academic advisor or the Registrar's Office to request your SJSU record be "term activated". This will allow you access to your student account.

      Note: Your record must be "term activated" before you can register for classes.
  5. Check in with the International Student Advising (ISA) department during the first week of your arrival. Bring your I-20, along with a copy of your U.S. visa stamp and admission stamp.