F-1 Students: Medical Leave of Absence or Reduced Course Load


As an F-1 student, you may drop below full time registration or go on leave of absence and remain in the U.S. if you obtain a doctor’s letter recommending the reduced course load or leave of absence for medical / mental health reasons. You MUST receive PRIOR approval for this leave from ISS. If you do NOT obtain advance approval from ISS and you remain in the U.S., you will be violating your F-1 immigration status.

Requirements / Limitations:

  • Not more than 12 months total are allowed per degree level
  • Reduced course load and leave are both counted towards the 12 month total
  • Must have letter from licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist recommending leave for a specific semester
  • Must have PRIOR approval from ISS before dropping courses or de-registering
  • Reduced course load and leave must be re-authorized every semester, with a NEW medical letter specifying the new semester dates
  • May NOT work off campus without prior authorization through ISS
  • May discuss the possibility of on-campus work with ISS

Returning to full enrollment:

  • You MUST report to ISS within 21 days of the start of new semester to tell us that you have resumed full time enrollment

If you are taking a medical leave and you plan to leave the U.S., we strongly recommend that you notify ISS before departure, and that you discuss the specifics of your situation with an ISS advisor.

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