F-1 students may find that they need to take a leave of absence (LOA) from school for a variety of reasons. If you are planning to take a leave, you must notify the International Center BEFORE withdrawing or stopping studies. In most cases, going on a LOA requires you to leave the US. Depending on the type and the length of the leave, different immigration procedures may be required.
Types of Leaves
There are several different types of leaves:
Academic Withdrawal Leave
Personal Leave (for personal or family reasons, home country military service, or other similar reasons)
Tufts Study Abroad/Non-Tufts Study Abroad Leave
If you need to take a LOA from Tufts, you must first meet with your Academic Dean in Dowling Hall. Upon approval from your Dean, schedule to meet with an advisor at the International Center so that we are informed of your plans and can advise you of the impact your LOA could have on your immigration status as an F-1 student.
If you are a graduate student, you must first discuss your LOA with your department and school. Your leave must be approved by your school. At the same time you should contact your International Center advisor so that they are aware you are pursuing a LOA. After your school has approved your leave, arrange your International Center advisor so that we are informed of your plans and can advise you on any possible impacts your LOA could have on your immigration status as an F-1 student.
Tufts Study Abroad or Non-Tufts Study Abroad Programs
If you are an undergraduate student taking a Tufts or Non-Tufts study abroad LOA, you can most likely continue to maintain your current F-1 status, provided that:
You are taking part in a Tufts program abroad or that your LOA has been approved by the Director of Tufts Programs Abroad, and
You have obtained clearance from the I-Center prior to departure from Tufts.
If you will be outside of the United States for a period longer than five months, there is a possibility that the International Center could terminate your F-1 status. This is especially important for those of you going into your senior year, as it can affect your Optional Practical Training (OPT) eligibility. Please continue to stay in contact with your International Student Advisor to ensure the proper maintenance of your immigration status. Please also be mindful of your I-20 visa document. You will need this document to re-enter the U.S. If your visa document needs an updated travel signature, contact the International Center to make arrangements so we can assist you with this. Additionally, a new student visa may be needed to re-enter the United States.
LOA Effects on OPT/Academic Training
SEVP mandates that the International Center terminate a student's F-1 or J-1 status if they are on a non-study abroad LOA. If your F-1 or J-1 status is terminated, you must return to Tufts for two consecutive semesters in full-time status in order to be eligible for Post Completion Optional Practical Training or Academic Training. If you are returning from a LOA during your last semester at Tufts, you need to be aware of the fact that you will lose your eligibility for post-completion Optional Practical Training or Academic Training.
Returning to Tufts after a LOA
When you are ready to return to Tufts after a LOA, please notify the International Center approximately 3 months prior to your intended return to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 visa document. Your International Center advisor will assist you with this process. You cannot return to the US with your previous I-20 or DS-2019 unless you receive written confirmation from the International Center that you may do so.
If you are an undergraduate student, you will need to obtain clearance from your Academic Dean prior to returning, unless you are returning from a study abroad experience. You must clear any registration holds and finish any incomplete courses before you will be eligible to receive a new Form I-20 or DS-2019 to return to campus.
Graduate students will need to obtain clearance from your department and the Graduate School.
To qualify for a new I-20 or DS-2019, the International Center will need:
Confirmation of approval from your Academic Dean or department that you are eligible to resume studies at Tufts
Updated financial documents showing that you have sufficient funds for at least one year of full-time tuition, fees, and living expenses (consult our Estimate of Expenses for the estimated funding requirements for your program)