Medical Leave of Absence
Preparing for Medical Leave
If you are taking a leave of absence due to a medical reason, you are permitted to keep your F-1 record active during your leave for up to 12 months (cumulative). During this medical leave of absence, you may remain in the U.S. and/or travel internationally. The immigration authorization for a medical leave of absence can only be issued for one semester at a time, so a student taking a medical leave of absence must follow the below steps to apply for authorization separately for each semester of the leave:
- Discuss your leave of absence with the Director of Student Support . Your leave must be approved by the college before it can be reflected in your F-1 record.
- Discuss your leave of absence with the Designated School Official (DSO), Shelley Palmer in the office of International Student Programs & Services. You will be given a form which must be completed by a licensed doctor, clinical psychologist, or osteopath, and sent to the DSO via email before your leave of absence from the College begins. Please note that electronic signatures will only be accepted if they are digital reproductions of an original signature. This form does not require your provider to state an explicit diagnosis, but must confirm that the student is recommended to take a medical leave for a given semester due to temporary illness or medical condition. Forms received after your leave of absence begins can, unfortunately, not be accepted.
- Receive your updated I-20. The DSO will issue this new immigration document and give it to you if you are still on campus, or email it to you if you have left the U.S.
- If you need to apply to extend your medical leave of absence beyond a single semester, you must provide a newly signed Medical Recommendation for Reduced Courseload form for each semester being requested. The form must be received by the DSO before the first day of classes of the semester for which the medical leave is being extended. Keeping an F-1 record active with a medical reduced courseload authorization is permissible for no more than twelve months or three cumulative semesters (although a medical leave from the College can be longer).
Returning from a Medical Leave of Absence with an Active F-1 Record
When you decide to return to Bates College, you must take the following steps in advance of your return. It is best to complete these steps at least 8 weeks before the semester begins, particularly if you need to obtain a new F-1 visa.
If you left the U.S. during your medical leave of absence, be sure to check that your I-20 travel signature is valid and dated within 12 months of your return to the U.S., and that your F-1visa has not expired in the meantime. If your F-1 visa has expired, or if you were outside of the U.S. for more than five months, you will need to obtain a new visa before returning to the U.S.