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International Student Services

Leave of Absence

Sometimes you may need to take extended time away from your studies.

What is an F-1 Leave of Absence?

Students take a break from their studies for a variety of reasons including mandatory military service, family emergencies, financial challenges, etc. In some cases, you may be eligible for an enrollment exception or vacation quarter. However, if you are not eligible for either of these and need to take time away from your studies, you will need to apply for an immigration Leave of Absence.

Request an immigration Leave of Absence if:

  • You need to take time off from studies and you do not qualify for an enrollment exception or vacation quarter
  • You need to take more time off than would be allowed by the exceptions to the F-1 full-time rules.
  • You are permanently withdrawing from UW.

What does a Leave of Absence mean for my immigration status?

A leave of absence may have the following effects on your immigration status:

  • Your I-20 and F-1 immigration record will be terminated and no longer valid for entrance in the U.S.
  • Your termination reason will be listed as “Authorized Early Withdrawal.” However, if you drop classes without telling ISS, your record may be terminated for a different reason.
  • You will need to depart the United States
  • You may lose eligibility for benefits such as CPT and OPT

Applying for a Leave of Absence

Apply for LOA

The F-1 Leave of Absence process is a U.S. immigration-only process. You may need to separately complete academic department/university processes to withdraw and/or apply for graduate school on-leave. We strongly recommend that you also consult with your academic department to discuss the effect of your absence on course sequences and length of your program.

The length of your leave determines the process to return to the U.W. under the F-1 status and has other implications on benefits such as CPT, OPT, and vacation quarters. Read through our Returning to UW webpage to understand the two pathways.

If you have decided to take a break from your studies, submit the Leave of Absence request in your MyISSS portal. This will be routed to our advising team for review and processing.

After you have submitted the LOA request to ISS, work with your academic adviser or department to request to drop your classes. Depending on when in the quarter it is, ISS may need to approve the request before the withdrawal is complete.

Once your LOA is approved, you will receive a confirmation email from ISS stating that your I-20 and F-1 immigration record has been terminated. You then have 15 days to depart the U.S.

Other Considerations

LOA Considerations

Once your immigration record is terminated, you are no longer authorized to work on-campus, through CPT, or through any other F-1 authorization.

During your Leave of Absence, you are not able to use your I-20 and F-1 visa to enter the U.S. You will need to do so under another immigration status such as the B status.

Students physically present in the U.S. must depart the U.S. within 15 days of one of the following dates:

  1. If NOT ENROLLED for the quarter, within 15 days of the last day of enrollment
  2. If ENROLLED for the quarter, within 15 days of the withdrawal date or SEVIS termination date, whichever comes first.