Leave of Absence & Readmission

IMPORTANT: ALL Students taking Leave of Absence should meet with their international student advisor to discuss the impact of the leave on their  F-1 or J-1 immigration status.

1. What is Leave of Absence (LOA)?

Time away from Princeton can be defined as: taking a voluntary leave of absence, an authorized withdrawal, suspension or any other category, in which a student chooses not to enroll or is prohibited from enrolling in courses at the University. NOTE: This does not apply to undergraduate students participating in a study abroad program or to graduate students in absentia.

Undergraduate Students - For more information about LOA, refer to the Undergraduate Student Announcement or your Residential College Dean.
Graduate Students - For more information about LOA,  refer to the Graduate School website.

2. Impact of Leave of Absence on Immigration Status

Any international student with an F-1/J-1 student visa who leaves Princeton and, therefore, is no longer enrolled at the University is advised of the following:

  • You must notify your international student advisor when you plan to take time away from Princeton. Please make an appointment with your assigned international advisor to discuss your situation.
  • Your current form I-20 or DS-2019, Certificate of Visa Eligibility, will no longer be valid as of your withdrawal date and cannot be used for future travel to the U.S.
  • Your F-1/J-1 visa stamp in your passport will no longer be valid regardless of the expiration date and cannot be used for future travel to the U.S.
  • If you plan to travel to the U.S. after leaving Princeton and prior to readmission to Princeton, you may not use your current I-20/DS-2019 nor current F-1/J-1 visa stamp; rather, you must enter the U.S. with a tourist visa or a travel entry equivalent such as a waiver of the tourist visa (depending on your country of citizenship).
  • If your leave of absence is voluntary, you may remain in the U.S. up to 15 days following the official withdrawal date, to prepare to depart the U.S.
  • Optional Practical Training!  Taking leave of absence may have an impact on your eligibility to obtain OPT. Please make sure to discuss this with your international student advisor PRIOR TO deciding to take LOA. 

3. Returning from Leave of Absence

Undergraduate Students

  • Contact your Residential College Dean to begin the Academic readmission process.
  • Begin the process of obtaining a new I-20/DS-2019 for readmission at least 3 months in advance of your planned return to Princeton.
  • Notify your international student advisor in the Davis IC of your intention to return.
  • Complete and submit the Application for Visa Certificate using DocuPort as soon as possible. NOTE: you must submit all required documents as per the instructions on the form. 

Graduate Students

  • Contact your Department to begin the Academic readmission process. The department will initiate the procedure with the Graduate School.
  • After the Graduate School readmits you and issues a new Re-enrollment Reply, notify your international student advisor in the Davis IC of your intention to return and send your Re-enrollment Reply along with additional proof of funding, if necessary, using DocuPort
  • For funding requirements for the Academic Year 2017/2018, please consult the Application for Visa Certificate (AVC) for new students.  Please Note: students returning from LOA are not required to complete the AVC form. 
  • To receive your new I-20/DS-2019, you must make arrangements for express mail through eShipGlobal. Go to this link to create your profile and request service. You will receive two e-mails from eShip Global, one when you created the shipment and a second when your I-20/DS-2019 has been sent.

4. About your New I-20/DS-2019 form for your Return to Princeton

  • The program start date on your I-20/DS-2019 will not be the date when you initially started your studies at Princeton, but rather the start date of the semester in which you are returning to resume your studies.
  • You must pay the SEVIS Fee again. The fee that you paid in the past was associated with your terminated SEVIS record.
  • J-1 Visa: You must use the new DS-2019 to reapply for a J-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate nearest you regardless of the expiration date of your previous J-1 visa. 
  • F-1 Visa: If your current F-1 visa is still valid, you will need to contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to determine if you need to apply for a new F-1 visa. The Study in the States website provides the following guidance found herePlease note: This is a statement from the U.S. Department of State. However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the U.S. ports of entry ultimately make the decision to admit students in the U.S., not the Department of State. We recommend that you double check this information with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country and CBP. If your current F-1 visa is expired, you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa. 
  • You may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to your new program start date.
  • Within 15 days of your arrival on campus to resume studies, you must report to Davis IC with your passport and I-20/DS-2019 form for an immigration check-in. Entering the U.S., by itself, does not activate your SEVIS record. The record can only be activated after you register for classes in TigerHub and report to Davis IC.
  • IMPORTANT:  Please note that taking LOA may have an impact on your eligibility to apply for OPT upon you return. Please make sure that you discuss your situation with your international student advisor PRIOR TO deciding to take LOA. 
  • Questions? E-mail puvisa@princeton.edu

5. What if my LOA is 5 months or less? (This applies to F-1 students only)

If you will be taking a LOA, leaving the U.S. and resuming your studies within 5 months, the Davis IC may request SEVIS to reactivate your student record up to 60 days prior to the start of the semester. Please be advised that there is a risk that it may take a long time for the SEVIS record to be reactivated.

  • You must be readmitted into your academic program and follow all the steps stated in #1-4;
  • You must send your travel itinerary to your international student advisor;
  • Your international advisor will notify you when your SEVIS record is reactivated;
  • You must wait until your international advisor informs you that your SEVIS record is reactivated before returning to the U.S. or you may be denied reentry;
  • You may use your current I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature to reenter the U.S. The travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 must be dated within the past year at the time you reenter the U.S.;
  • You are NOT required to pay the SEVIS fee or apply for a new visa provided that your current visa stamp is still valid.
  • IMPORTANT: Please note that taking LOA may have an impact on your eligibility to apply for OPT upon your return. Please make sure that you discuss your situation with your international student advisor PRIOR to deciding to take LOA.