How it affects your F-1 status
Students who need a non-medical leave of absence, which includes any reason that is not medical, will need to apply to the Office of Global Services as well as to their college/graduate school for a leave of absence. The medical condition of a relative does not constitute a medical leave of absence; a medical leave can be granted only if the student has a medical condition.
Additionally, if a student applies for an Emergency Leave from the We Care Office at Northeastern University (www.northeastern.edu/wecare) they must also apply for a non-medical leave of absence from the Office of Global Services since federal government regulations recognize only medical and non-medical leaves.
Requesting a non-medical leave of absence
1 Make an appointment.
Make an appointment with an Office of Global Services advisor to request the leave prior to dropping classes or prior to the start of the academic term during which the leave of absence will occur. If you are already abroad for a period of vacation when you discover that you need a leave, please email the Office of Global Services prior to the start the term in which you plan to take the leave.
2 Complete the non-medical leave of absence request form.
Complete the Office of Global Services Non-Medical Leave of Absence Request Form. This form will need to be signed by the student’s academic advisor (undergraduate day students) or by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) contact (graduate students and College of Professional Studies students) and then submitted to the Office of Global Services. The form is available here.
3 SEVIS record will be terminated.
The Office of Global Services is required by federal government regulations to terminate the student’s SEVIS record for a leave of absence. The record will be terminated for authorized reasons if the procedures above are followed and if the student is maintaining their status at the time of requesting the leave.
4 Depart the USA.
Students who take a non-medical leave of absence are required by USA federal government regulations to depart the USA within 15 days after termination of the SEVIS record.
5 Complete all additional forms on myNortheastern.
In addition to these procedures, the student must complete any university leave of absence forms required. A leave of absence may be requested through a student’s myNortheastern thus students should fill out the form on their myNortheastern in addition to the Office of Global Services form.
Eligibility requirements for reactivation
To return to the USA after a non-medical leave of absence, the following circumstances must be true:
- The student will be out of the USA less than five months from the end of their last date of attendance until the start of the term when they will resume classes (or less than eight months if the student requests the leave during the summer vacation and if the time between the student’s date of departure from the USA and the start of classes for the next term is less than eight months*)
- If the student requested the leave from the Office of Global Services prior to ceasing to attend classes or prior to the start of the term in which the leave will occur
- If the student will not be missing more than one academic term
- If the student is returning to the same academic program
- If the student was in status prior to the leave of absence
If a student did not request a leave prior to stopping attendance of classes or prior to the start of the term in which the leave is to occur or if the student is out of status at the time of requesting the leave, they will need a new initial I-20 to return.
Returning to the USA after reactivation
Complete the Office of Global Services form to Request Return from a Leave of Absence of Less than 5 Months
Email this form to the Office of Global Services 70 days prior to the start date of the academic term in which the student will resume classes.
Approximately 60 days prior to the start date of the academic term in which the student will resume classes, the Office of Global Services will request that the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System reactivate the student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record. The Office of Global Services will email the student when the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System reactivates the record. Please note that reactivation is not guaranteed. Also, please note that the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is part of a government agency, so the Office of Global Services does not reactivate the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record. We can only request that the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System reactivate your record. Then it is the decision of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System to either reactivate or deny the reactivation. Also, it is important to note that the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System will need time to do this, which is the reason we ask that you submit your request for reactivation 70 days prior to the start of the term.
After successful reactivation, the student may return to the USA as early as 30 days prior to the term in which they will resume classes and will be able to use their current I-20 and current visa if still valid. If the current F-1 visa has expired, the student should apply for a new visa once the current Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record has been reactivated.
NOTE: If your leave of absence will start at the beginning of the Fall term and if you request the leave of absence during the summer vacation period and if the time that you will have been abroad upon the start date of the Spring Semester when you will return to class (or Winter Quarter for College of Professional Studies graduate students) will be less than 8 months, you may still qualify for this procedure. Please consult with the Office of Global Services.
You must enroll in a full-time course load in the term for which you return, even if you return for the summer term. Students must enroll for the full summer or for both Summer 1 and Summer 2 if they return at the beginning of summer.
Obtaining a new initial I-20
1 Completing the Office of Global Services application form to request a new initial I-20.
Fill out the electronic Request for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-20/DS-2019 available here. Instructions on supporting documents needed and options for having your new I-20 mailed to you are included within the form. NOTE: You must have your academic advisor (for undergraduate day students) or your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System contact (for graduate students and all College of Professional Studies students) sign the portion of the form that is included within the electronic form, for the purpose of confirming your academic eligibility to return to your program in the academic term that you have selected and your expected program completion date.
2 Paying the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee.
When you receive the new I-20, you will need to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee online. You may or may not need to apply for a new F-1 visa so that you can return to the USA to resume your program. Instructions will be included with your I-20. NOTE: You still need to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee even if you do not need to obtain a new F-1 visa stamp.
3 Obtaining a new visa if needed.
Once you have received your I-20 and paid the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee, you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa stamp in the following circumstances:
- If your current F-1 student visa has expired or if it will expire before you return to the USA
- If your current visa bears the name of another educational institution in the USA rather than Northeastern University
- If you have changed your name and if your visa stamp bears your former name
If your visa stamp will still be valid at the time that you plan to return to the USA and if “Northeastern University” is noted on the visa and if your name on the visa stamp is correct, recent information obtained from USA federal government officials indicates that if you are returning to the USA after a leave of absence you may not need to apply for a new visa stamp, but you may wish to check on this with the USA Embassy or Consulate nearest to you to confirm this. Contact or view the website of the USA Embassy or Consulate where you would apply for a visa for the most current information on procedures for obtaining an F-1 student visa.
4 Completing the Office of Global Services online check-in after arrival in the USA.
Since you will be entering the USA on an initial I-20, even though you are not a new student, please note that you will need to complete Online Check-In with the Office of Global Services. You will be able to do this by completing the online Office of Global Services Check-In Form. You will receive an email before classes begin directing you to the link you will need to complete this online form. This is necessary to confirm your arrival in the USA for government purposes and so our office can register your arrival in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
5 Entering the USA on a new initial I-20 and impact upon eligibility for Co-op (Curricular Practical Training) and (Optional Practical Training).
Additionally, it is important that you realize that returning to the USA with an initial I-20 may have an impact upon your eligibility to do Co-op (Curricular Practical Training) in the USA or Optional Practical Training. USA federal government regulations require students must have been enrolled for at least one academic year (two semesters or three quarters) in order to be eligible to do Co-op after entering the USA on an initial I-20. All students must have been enrolled for at least an academic year in order to be eligible to begin Optional Practical Training after entering the USA on an initial I-20.