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Vacation and Leave of Absence

Taking one or more terms off from school is both an academic matter as well as a visa matter. Both your academic department as well as ISSS need to know your plans so that we can help take care of both your academic progress as well as your legal visa compliance.

Drexel University policy requires all students who will not be taking classes for a specific quarter or semester to either request a Leave of Absence or to formally change their schedule to include a vacation. As an international student, you must also consider immigration policies. To have a leave of absence and maintain your F1 status you must be approved by the ISSS Office for one of the below.

  • International Vacation
  • Temporary Leave of Absence (TLOA)

You must consult with the ISSS Office before taking an academic leave of absence or making any change to your student status.

International Vacation

F-1 and J-1 regulations permit one vacation quarter each year.

You are eligible for vacation if you have completed three full-time consecutive quarters (or two consecutive semesters). For example, if you attend classes full time starting in September and are registered full time all the way through the spring, you may take a three-month vacation term in the summer.

If you begin your Drexel program in winter or spring quarter, you will be eligible for your first summer vacation in summer quarter or summer semester.

All international undergraduate first-year students will automatically be enrolled in an International Vacation term in the Summer.

International students who are not undergraduate first-year students should contact ISSS to determine their eligibility for an International Vacation term.

Notes about Vacation terms:

  • F-1/J-1 international students can register for a less than full-time course load while on an International Vacation term. For a graduate student, this means less than 9 credits, and for an undergraduate, it would be less than 12.
  • Visa law does not require you to take a vacation term in the summer.
  • If your academic schedule allows it, you might be eligible for a vacation term during the fall, winter, or spring quarter. Talk to an ISSS advisor if this is something you need to do.
  • Unused vacation quarters do not roll over. For example, if you enroll full-time for six consecutive quarters or more, you cannot take two vacation quarters in one academic year.
  • During a vacation term, students are welcome to remain inside the US or travel outside the US. 

Temporary Leave of Absence (TLOA)

Current International students who are ineligible for an International Vacation term and elect to take a leave of absence for less than five months outside the U.S. may be eligible for a temporary absence.

There are many factors that affect your eligibility. To find out if you might qualify, talk to an ISSS advisor.

In cases where a TLOA is approved, the student must exit the U.S. and remain outside the U.S. until their F1 status is reactivated. In addition, the student will have to have their I-20 temporarily terminated. Within sixty days of the student's return to the U.S. or visa interview, whichever is earlier, the student must to request ISSS to have their F-1 record returned to Active status.

Leaves Not Approved and ALL leaves Longer than 5 Months

Students who take leave and are not eligible for/approved for International Vacation Term or TLOA will have their I-20/DS-2019 terminated. The student must email ISSS for instructions on how to apply for a new I-20/DS-2019 three months before returning to the U.S. to resume their studies.