Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) Overview

Updated 12/14/2023

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. 

If you are considering pursuing a Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) please follow each of the steps below (steps 1 and 2 should be completed concurrently): 

  1. Apply for a 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. 
    • F-1 Students
      • Most F-1 students will be required to depart the U.S. for the duration of their MLOA. OGS will terminate your I-20 for “Authorized Early Withdrawal” and you will be advised to either request a new Initial I-20 or request reactivation when you have been approved by UHCS for re-entry.
      • In limited circumstances, F-1 students may qualify to take their MLOA from inside the U.S.
        • To qualify to take a MLOA from inside the U.S., federal regulations require that you provide supporting documentation to OGS that is signed by one of the following U.S.-based medical professionals (no exceptions): 
          • Medical Doctor, Psychiatrist, Doctor of Osteopathy, Licensed Psychologist, or Clinical Psychologist 
        •  A template letter is available here
    • J-1 Students
      • Please schedule an appointment with an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) in OGS to discuss your options
  2. Schedule an appointment with a Designated School Official (DSO) in OGS.  A MLOA may carry serious consequences to your immigration status, and seeking guidance from an OGS advisor is an important part of the decision-making process. 
    • To schedule an appointment with a DSO, please call 617-373-2310 or visit our front desk in Boston at 354 Richards Hall. 
  3. Complete the OGS MLOA Request e-form as early as possible. You do not need to have been approved for your MLOA to complete this form. 

Additional Information

  • You must not withdraw from classes before OGS authorizes the MLOA in SEVIS. Failure to maintain full-time enrollment and on-ground presence while a request for MLOA is pending is a serious violation of F-1 status that will result in the termination of your SEVIS record. Students must maintain enrollment and class attendance until the MLOA is authorized 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 and submit a new MLOA e-form for each academic term in which they will be out on a MLOA.
  • A student may only be authorized for 365 days of a medical leave per degree level 
  • Please click here to view a visual representation of your steps 

You may view the FAQs in the sidebar for more information.

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

Submit a MLOA Request

Please submit the Medical Leave of Absence Request e-form to inform OGS of your intention to take a MLOA. This e-form should be submitted as early as possible.

Returning from a MLOA

All students who have been approved for a MLOA must be approved for re-entry by University Health and Counseling Services. 

Once you’ve received approval for re-entry from UHCS, you must work with OGS to request an updated Form I-20. 

  • If you spent the duration of your MLOA inside of the United States and have been approved to return by UHCS, please contact OGS to confirm that your immigration record does not need any adjustments. 
    • To schedule an appointment with a DSO (F-1 students) or ARO (J-1 students), please call 617-373-2310 or visit our front desk. 
  • If you spent the duration of your MLOA outside of the United States, please review the information found on Returning from a Leave of Absence Taken Outside of the U.S.  

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.