Leave of Absence
I've decided to leave MVCC temporarily, but would like to return in the future. Why should I apply for a Leave of Absence?
If you intend to return to MVCC in the future, applying for a Leave of Absence will make it easier for you to return to MVCC. You will not need to reapply to MVCC since your Leave of Absence will preserve your place in your current degree program. The Leave of Absence will also ensure that your MVCC email address is active during your leave.
How long can I be on a Leave of Absence?
Students are allowed a maximum of four semesters of approved leave during their degree program. If you are away for more than four semesters, your leave will expire, and you must reapply to and be re-admitted to MVCC before you can return.
How do I apply for a Leave of Absence?
- Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your eligibility for a Leave of Absence. If you meet the eligibility requirements, your Academic Advisor will sign the Leave of Absence Request form.
- Bring the completed Leave of Absence Request form to International Student Services. Review your plans with an International Student Services staff member, who will explain how the leave will impact your immigration status.
- Read and sign the Leave of Absence form. It is extremely important that you understand how a Leave of Absence impacts your immigration status, that your SEVIS record will be terminated while you are on your leave and that you follow specific procedures in order to return to MVCC. If you have any questions about the information included on the form, please ask an International Student Services staff member. Note: This form must be submitted to International Student Services along with your Leave of Absence Request form, which an International Student Services staff member will sign and return to you.
- Submit the Leave of Absence Request form before the deadline to apply. (If you are completing this process from outside the U.S., International Student Services will submit the Leave of Absence form for you.) If you miss the deadline to apply, then you are not eligible for a Leave of Absence.
- If you have registered for classes for the semester you will be away on a leave, you must drop your classes. Approval for a Leave of Absence does not mean that your classes are automatically dropped. If you do not drop your classes before the "last day to drop without financial penalty," you will be required to pay any tuition or fees that you owe.
Am I required to leave the U.S. while I am on a Leave of Absence?
Yes. You cannot be inside the U.S. as a student if you are not enrolled in classes. However, there are two exceptions to this rule:
- Students who are approved for a Medical Reduced Course Load and are receiving treatment for their medical condition inside the U.S. are allowed to remain in the U.S. while on a Leave of Absence.
- Students who are approved for a leave of absence from MVCC, but who transfer to another U.S. school (and are registered full-time at that school) may also remain in the U.S. If you do not meet one of the above exceptions, you cannot remain in the U.S. while on a Leave of Absence. If you do, you will be in violation of your F-1 status. For that reason, you must provide your date of departure and date of re-entry before ISSS can issue you a new I-20 or re-activate your SEVIS record.
I will return to the U.S. within five months of my date of departure. What must I do before returning to MVCC?
- Confirm that you have been outside the U.S. for no more than five months. The five months are counted starting on your date of departure from the U.S. and ending on the first day of classes. There cannot be more than five months between your date of departure and the start of the semester in which you will return.
- Contact International Student Services two to three months before you plan to return to MVCC and inform us that you will return from your Leave of Absence. Include the following in your email:
- Your date of departure from the U.S. and the date you intend to return. The process to re-activate your SEVIS record can take several days to complete. Therefore, we recommend that you plan to arrive no earlier than three weeks before classes begin. Note: You may not re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status during a semester in which you are not enrolled.
- Your flight itinerary indicating your date of arrival.
- Proof of full-time course registration since you must register full-time during the semester in which you will return. (We can confirm your course registration for you; however, you must ensure that you are registered). If you will return to MVCC for summer classes, you MUST enroll in at least 6 credits during the first summer session in which you will return. If you will return to MVCC for Winter Session, you must enroll in five credits during Winter Session.
- Completed International Student Information Form.
- Expiration date of the signature on page 3 of your I-20. The signature is only valid for one year. If your signature will be more than one year old on the day you will return, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. Please inform the International Student Services staff member if your I-20 signature will expire before your return date. Once we have all of the information listed above, we will make a request to re-activate your SEVIS record. The earliest we can make the request is 30 days before classes begin. We will notify you via email when your SEVIS record is active again.
I will return to the U.S. more than five months after my date of departure. What must I do before returning to MVCC?
- Email International Student Services two to three months before you plan to return from your Leave of Absence. Tell us your date of departure from the U.S. and the date you intend to return. Note: You may not re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status during a semester in which you are not enrolled. The earliest you can re-enter the U.S. to resume studies is 30 days before the start of classes.
- Before you can return to the U.S., you must receive a new I-20. To request the I-20, please provide the following:
- New financial documents showing that you can cover the costs of your MVCC education and support yourself. When you contact International Student Services, we will provide an estimate of how much money you must show. For information on acceptable forms of financial documents. Note: You must mail us the original financial documents.
- Completed International Student Information Form.
- Copy of the biographic page of your passport.
- If you will return for summer classes, you MUST enroll in at least 6 credits during the first summer session in which you will return. (If you cannot enroll in six credits during the same summer session, then you may not return in the summer.) Instead, you will be issued an I-20 with a fall semester start date. If you will return for Winter Session, you must enroll in five credits during the Winter Session.
- Information on where we should mail your I-20 and how you would like it mailed. You may choose between U.S. Airmail (free, but not recommended because it takes longer than express courier and there is no way to track your package) or express courier. You may also request that a friend collect your I-20. Notes: To have your I-20 sent via express courier, you must either purchase a pre-paid shipping label or provide us with your UPS or Fedex account number.
Note: Once we receive all of the documents listed above, it will take five to seven days to create your new I-20.
- After your receive your I-20 you must:
- Pay the SEVIS Fee.
- Apply for a new F-1 Visa Stamp.
- Contact your academic advisor or academic department to request that your record be “term activated” so you will have access to your student account. Note: Your record must be “term activated” before you can register for classes.
What happens if I exceed the maximum time allowed on a Leave of Absence or I am not eligible for a Leave of Absence?
Before you can return, you must re-apply for admission to MVCC. You must complete the Re-Entry application and receive admission to MVCC. You will work with the International Admissions office to complete this process. If you are re-admitted to MVCC, you will be given a new I-20.
Can I return to MVCC to resume studies earlier than I originally planned?
You may not return to the U.S. during a semester in which you are not enrolled. However, if, for example, you are approved for a three-semester Leave of Absence and decide to return to MVCC after only one semester outside the U.S., this will only be possible if there is sufficient time to reissue your I-20 and for you to book your flight, renew your U.S. visa (if needed), etc. Please discuss your plans with an International Student Services Coordinator, who will review your plans and determine if there is enough time for you to return.
How do I know if my Leave of Absence is approved?
You should receive an email when your Leave of Absence application has been processed. It will inform you if it has been approved or if there is a problem with your application. If you do not receive an email, you may contact International Student Services to find out if your Leave of Absence has been approved.
What should I do after I return to the U.S.?
- Check in with International Student Services within one week of your arrival. Bring a copy of your U.S. visa stamp and admission stamp. Note: If you were away from MVCC for one year or more, you will be required to attend an Immigration Session again and will have an IS Hold, which prevents you from registering for classes until you attend the Immigration Session. When you check in with International Student Services, you will be given Immigration Session dates.
- Update your U.S. address with us. This is very important! Without your U.S. address, we cannot activate your SEVIS record.