Voluntary Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

If you are taking a leave or are withdrawing from the college without a medical letter of support, your leave is considered a voluntary leave of absence. F-1 students taking a voluntary leave of absence must have their F-1 immigration records closed for the duration of the leave. Please follow the steps below for requesting and returning from a voluntary leave of absence:

  • Student should review the immigration implications (see below) of a leave of absence/withdrawal.
  • Student should review the Leave of Absence, Withdrawal & Dismissals page for procedural information.
  • Student should contact Shelley Palmer, the PDSO in International Student Programs & Services to discuss plans and how the leave/withdrawal will affect their F-1 status.
  • Student should contact the Director of Student Support to discuss their plans and how the leave/withdrawal will affect their Bates enrollment.
  • Student completes and submits the appropriate Withdrawal/ Leave of Absence/ or Medical Leave Form. 
Immigration Implications
  • The student’s SEVIS record is closed for Authorized Early Withdrawal. This action is not punitive and will not prevent the student from returning to Bates following their approved return from leave of absence request.
  • If the student is in the U.S., they have 15 days to depart the U.S. from the day the SEVIS record is closed.
  • If it has been more than 5 months since your SEVIS record was closed, a new SEVIS record will be created for you when you are re-enrolled at Bates. You will need to pay the SEVIS fee again.
  • Any time you had accrued towards the one academic year enrollment requirement to be eligible for OPT or CPT work authorizations will be lost. When you re-enter the U.S. with a new Initial Attendance SEVIS Record (I-20), you must be enrolled for one academic year (2 consecutive semesters) before becoming eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
Returning from a Voluntary Leave of Absence

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 your F-1 visa is still valid at the time of your return to Bates, you do not need to obtain a new one.

  • Student should contact the Director of Student Support with any questions about readmission to the college, and see the Returning from Leave page for more information. You must be formally readmitted to the college before International Student Programs & Services can issue you a new I-20.
  • Your new I-20 will be signed electronically and sent to you via email. Please note you will have a new SEVIS ID number.
  • Print the new I-20 and sign it on page one.
  • You will need to pay the SEVIS fee with your new SEVIS number.
  • If your F-1 visa has expired, you will need to obtain a new visa before returning to the U.S.
  • Return to the U.S. in F-1 status. You may enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start-date on your new I-20.
  • F-1 students will be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) after two semesters of studying in the U.S. with an active F-1 record.