Updated 10/23/2022

General information about the process

OGS understands that a medical issue or illness can be a source of anxiety for our students. We are here to support you during this difficult time. Please review the information below and be sure to follow all the steps so that you continue to be compliant with the requirements of your student visa.

Students are required to apply for a medical leave of absence (MLOA) through the University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS). Information on applying for a MLOA can be found at the website of the University Health and Counseling Services. Once your MLOA has been approved by UHCS, you must complete the OGS MLOA Request form. This form notifies the OGS staff that you intend on taking a MLOA and we will assist you to comply with your next steps. UHCS will send an email notification to OGS as well to confirm the approval of your MLOA.

Note: The information regarding a student’s medical condition is not shared by UHCS with any other office. This information is confidential. The email notification simply states that a MLOA has been approved and includes the start and end dates of approval.

OGS will authorize a medical leave in the student’s SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record and will email the student to notify them that their medical leave has been approved in SEVIS. Students will receive a new I-20 that reflects the authorized medical leave.


  • You should not stop attending or withdraw from classes before OGS authorizes the MLOA in SEVIS.
  • UHCS may approve the MLOA for a full year. OGS is required to approve the MLOA in SEVIS each semester/term and updated medical documentation is required. It is the student’s responsibility to meet these requirements.
  • The SEVIS system does not permit retroactive MLOA.
  • Please click here to view a visual representation of your steps.

Considerations for F-1 Student Status

  • Students in F-1 status may remain in the U.S. or may leave the U.S. during a MLOA.
    • A student who needs to remain in the U.S. must provide appropriate medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to substantiate the illness or medical condition
      • Please note that students who live on campus are not permitted to remain in the residence halls while on a leave.
    • A student who chooses to leave the U.S. for the duration of their approved MLOA must inform OGS so that appropriate action can be taken on the SEVIS record. Students must also consult with their DSO about the intended return dates so that they can successfully plan their re-entry to Northeastern University, as well as to the U.S.
    • A student who leaves the U.S. during an approved MLOA should request an updated I-20 and travel signature in order to return to the U.S. The request should be made at least 60 days prior to the start date of the semester in which you plan to return to Northeastern University.
  • If your I-20 will expire while on an MLOA (see Program End Date), you must also request a program extension  at least 30-days prior to the Program End Date.
  • A student who is outside of the U.S. for more than five months during an MLOA will need a new Initial I-20 for their return. Please be advised that this will reset your eligibility requirements for CPT/OPT. Please familiarize yourself with the five-month rule by visiting https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2015/01/what-five-month-rule
  • A student who is outside of the U.S. for less than five months during their medical leave may return to the U.S. on their current I-20. You will still need a valid travel signature on your I-20 to return to the U.S.
  • A student can only be authorized for 365 days of a medical leave per degree level. If you require more than 365 days of medical leave, you will need to notify OGS and make plans to depart the U.S. A new initial I-20 will be required to return to the U.S. (Please see instructions for obtaining a new initial I-20).
  • A student’s CPT and OPT eligibility are unaffected by taking a medical leave, unless it exceeds 365 days, or you depart the U.S. for more than five months and return on an “Initial” I-20.

We recognize that this may be a stressful time for you. Please do not hesitate to contact an OGS advisor if you have additional questions.

Submit a MLOA Request

Once UHS has approved your MLOA, please click here to submit your Medical Leave of Absence request e-form in myOGS.

Key Resources

Submit a Medical Leave of Absence Request E-Form »

This request is for an international student that requires a medical leave of absence.

Program Extension Request »

This request is for an international student that requires additional time for the completion of his/her program of study.