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California State University, Fullerton

Leave of Absence

An approved Leave of Absence permits a student to be absent from the university for one or two semesters (maximum of two semesters), while authorizing the student to return and continue to study under catalog requirements that applied prior to the absence. Students must be in good academic standing (not on probation or disqualified from the University) in order to qualify for a Leave of Absence.

Graduate and Credential students should be aware of additional restrictions, outlined in the publication, "Leave of Absence, Graduate and Credential Students Policy and Procedures" available from the Graduate Studies Office, McCarthy Hall 129.

The following are valid reasons for which you may request a leave of absence and at the same time, maintain your F-1 status:

Medical Leave A medical leave must be accompanied by a physician's letter which supports the request for a Leave of Absence from school.
Personal Reasons or Family Emergency A copy of your plane ticket must be submitted if you are leaving the country due to one of these reasons.

In order to maintain your F-1 status, you must maintain the validity of your reason for the Leave of Absence. In other words, if you request a leave of absence due to a family emergency in your home country, then you must be physically in your home country for the semester for which the leave has been granted. Staying in the U.S. without attending school will be violating your F-1 status.

Guidelines for Requesting a Leave of Absence

  1. Make an appointment with an International Student Advisor in the IEE to discuss your situation and obtain a Leave of Absence Request Form.
  2. Submit the completed Leave of Absence Request Form to the advisor, along with any supporting letters or documents.
  3. The IEE Advisor will review your request, write a recommendation on the Leave of Absence form, and send it to the Admissions & Records office.
  4. The Admissions and Records Office will give the final approval on the leave request by mail. 5. If you are currently enrolled for the semester in which you intend to take a Leave of Absence, you must withdraw from all classes before the Leave Request can be processed.
  5. Please check with Student Financial Services for refund information.

Processing of Leave of Absence requests may take as long as one month. Students can be approved for a maximum of 2 semesters of leave of absence.

Special Issues for International Students

  • Absence for 1 Semester: If you plan to return to your home country during a Leave of Absence of one semester, please be sure to obtain a travel signature on your I-20, before leaving the United States. In order to maintain the validity of your F-1 status, you must be outside the United States for the semester when you are absent from school.
  • Absence for 2 Semesters:Please make an appointment with an advisor before leaving the United States. Depending on when you plan to return to the U.S. to enroll back in school, you may need a new I-20.
  • Absence for 5 Months or More: Being absent from the U.S. for more than 5 consecutive months is not considered a "temporary absence" by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you are absent from the U.S. for more than 5 months, you will be issued a new SEVIS I-20 marked "Initial Attendance". Therefore, you will not be eligible for F-1 benefits like internships, optional practical training or economic hardship employment until you have completed one academic year at CSU Fullerton.

Effective September 1, 2004, if you have been absent from the U.S. for more than 5 months, you are required to pay a SEVIS fee at the U.S. Embassy before you re-enter the U.S. This fee is separate from and in addition to the visa application fee (if you need to apply for a visa renewal). If your F-1 visa is still valid, you will have to make your payment via the internet by completing Form I-901 using a credit card at: www.fmjfee.com or by mail, by submitting Form I-901 together with a check drawn on a U.S. bank and payable in U.S. Dollars.

Class Registration When Returning

You are strongly encouraged to participate in early TITAN registration for the semester in which you intend to return. Please contact the International Education Office to determine if a "hold" has been placed on your registration. The International Office places "Holds" until proof of health insurance coverage has been submitted. While the "hold" is in place, your registration will be blocked. Please consult with an advisor in the International Education office for more information on this issue.

Communicating with the Office of International Education & Exchange

We strongly encourage that you stay in touch with the International Education Office while on an approved leave of absence, so that problems are avoided upon your return. Letters from overseas will be answered in a timely fashion, or you may contact the office by phone , fax or email. Unfortunately, we are unable to return long distance or overseas telephone calls or fax inquiries.

Contact Information: +1 (657) 278-2787 +1 (657) 278-7292 ieoffice@fullerton.edu

Revised — August 2011

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