Vacation and Leave of Absence

Taking one or more terms off from school is both an academic matter and a visa matter.

Both your academic department as well as ISSS need to be informed of your plans if you will take a leave from your program.

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.

Students may be able to maintain active F-1/J-1 visa status during a break term if they are eligible for and receive ISSS approval for an international break term. Please review the information on eligibility requirements for this benefit on the LTFT webpage.

Students who need to take a leave of absence for medical reasons may be eligible to request less than full-time authorization for medical reasons to keep their F-1 or J-1 record active and legally remain in the U.S. Additional information is available on our LTFT webpage.

Otherwise, students who do not qualify for less than full-time authorization, are taking an extended leave of absence, or are otherwise academically dismissed/withdrawn from their program should notify ISSS as soon as possible to discuss your immediate plans and whether you plan to return. Students in these situations must leave the U.S. and their SEVIS records will be terminated to notify the U.S. government of their leave of absence/withdrawal. Eligibility for CPT and OPT may be impacted depending on the length and nature of the student's leave.

Returning from a Leave of Absence

To return from a leave of absence, you must first receive approval from your academic program. Please contact your academic advisor for instructions on reporting your return to Drexel. For instructions on how to receive a valid I-20 for re-entry to the U.S., please read the information below.

Authorized Absences of Less Than Five (5) Months

If your absence from the U.S. was authorized by ISSS and you will be outside of the U.S. for less than five (5) months, you can request to reactivate your SEVIS record. To request a SEVIS reactivation, please submit the following documents at least 45-60 days prior to your return to the U.S.:

  • I-94 Travel History, as proof of your departure from the U.S.
  • Copy of flight itinerary confirming your planned re-entry date to the U.S.
  • Proof of full-time enrollment for upcoming term (ie., registration records or letter from academic advisor)

Please note that this process is subject to SEVP discretion. If SEVP does not approve the SEVIS correction request, you will need to request a new I-20 instead for your return (see following section).

Absences That Require a New I-20/DS-2019

You must apply for and receive a new I-20/DS-2019 and repay the SEVIS I-901 fee if you have been outside the U.S. for more than five (5) months or if your SEVIS record was terminated for reasons other than "Authorized Early Withdrawal."

Please email ISSS at least three (3) months prior to your planned return to receive instructions on how to apply for your I-20/DS-2019. Because these types of absences will result in a break in your F-1 status, you must complete at least one academic year of full-time study upon your return to the U.S. before becoming eligible for certain F-1 benefits, such as CPT or OPT.

Contact Us


Monday–Friday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Visit during office hours to drop off/pick up documents or to request a travel signature.

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