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The Bechtel International Center will be closed on Fridays from June 14th to September 3rd.

Requesting a Leave of Absence and Returning from a Leave of Absence (F-1 and J-1 Students)

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Students on J-1: Leave of Absence

If you are on a J-1 visa, with a DS-2019 issued by Stanford, you must contact a student advisor at the Bechtel International Center to get approval for your leave of absence. If you are on a J-1 visa, with a DS-2019 issued by another visa sponsor (e.g., Fulbright, LASPAU, etc.), you must contact them to get approval for your leave and return from absence 

Students on F-1: Leave of Absence

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require that students on an F-1 visa  depart the U.S. during the academic year while taking a leave of absence from the school that issued the I-20. 

Exceptions that allow F-1 students to remain in the U.S. during a leave of absence include:

  • You have a documented medical reason.
    • You must request approval of the medical leave from the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) before submitting the leave of absence e-form. You have to  apply each quarter you will be on leave. Approval cannot be given for more than a total of 12 months during your academic program.  Information on reduced course load or leave of absence due to mental health reasons is available at Medical Reduced Course Load (video).
  • You have been enrolled full time for three consecutive quarters (including summer quarter) prior to the leave.
  • You plan to temporarily transfer to another U.S. school with the intention to return to complete your program at Stanford.
  • You are on post-OPT for one conferred degree, while on a leave of absence from another degree program.. Please ensure that the effective quarter of the leave of absence post-dates your degree conferral date. When returning to complete your program, you must request a new I­-20 to reflect your new program at least two weeks prior to the start date of the quarter.

If you do not meet any of the exceptions above for a leave of absence, you must depart the US or you will violate your F-1 visa status by remaining in the U.S. without enrolling.

Requesting a Leave of Absence

  1. You must meet with a student advisor at Bechtel first before requesting a leave of absence to discuss your plans for returning from your leave.
  2. Submit a leave of absence e-form petition. Once your leave is approved by the student advisor at Bechtel, your e-form will be  forwarded to the Registrar’s Office for processing.
  3. Once the leave of absence petition is submitted and approved by the Registrar’s Office, you must depart the U.S. within 15 days to comply with federal regulations.

Returning from a Leave of Absence 

Less than Five Months

If you have been on a leave of absence for less than five months:

  • You must submit a Reactivation Request in Bechtel Connect so we can reactivate your SEVIS record. Once we receive your request, we will request SEVIS to reactivate your record up to 60 days prior to the start date of the quarter you will return.
  • Keep in mind that it can take up to two weeks for SEVIS to reactivate your record.  Please apply well in time.
  • If you take a leave of absence in autumn quarter, you are only eligible for reactivation of your SEVIS record after a leave of absence if: 
    • You were enrolled in summer quarter previous to their fall quarter leave of absence.
    • You were present in the U.S. for summer quarter and; 3) you requested the autumn quarter leave BEFORE departing the U.S.
  • You will be required to enroll full time in the first quarter back from the leave of absence. This includes the summer quarter if it happens to be the quarter you return.
  • Please check to make sure that your student visa is still valid for re-entry to the U.S. (This does not apply to Canadians.)
  • And finally, do not try to return to the U.S. until you are notified that your SEVIS record is active, or you may be denied entry.

More than Five Months

If you have been on a leave of absence for more than five months:

  • You will need to apply for a new I-20 in Bechtel Connect. You may not use your last I-20 for re-entry; it is no longer valid.
  • You will need to pay the SEVIS fee again. (Use the SEVIS number on the newly issued I-20 when paying the SEVIS fee.)
  • You will be able to enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date of the quarter for which you will re-enroll. The start date on the new I-20 reflects the start of the quarter.
  • You will be required to enroll full time in the first quarter back from the leave of absence. This includes the summer quarter if it happens to be the quarter you return.
  • If you are an F-1 student,  you will have to be in F-1 status for three consecutive quarters before you will be eligible for CPT and OPT.

How to apply for a new I-20/DS-2019

  1. Begin the online application form in Bechtel Connect. You should submit the online application form for the I-20/ DS-2019 at least two to three months before the start of the quarter for which you are enrolling.  The request requires you to also resubmit evidence of sufficient funding. See Financial Documents at Visa Document Process for more details. 
  2. The online application requires the approval of the academic advisor or department.  
  3. Once the request has been approved by your department it will be forwarded to Bechtel.
    Processing time for the application with Bechtel is five to ten business days.

Removing Your Enrollment Hold

If you have been on a leave of absence,  a registration hold has been placed on your record until your physical presence at Stanford can be verified.

Once your enrollment hold is removed, you must enroll full-time. Any reduced course load approval must be approved by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) as well as Bechtel International Center.

Extending a Leave of Absence

If you need to extend your leave of absence, you must file another leave of absence petition before the current leave of absence expires. To request a new leave of absence, submit a leave of absence e-form petition.